Rains and Rivers

My home state of California has been experiencing some very heavy rain these past few days. This rain has been a welcome respite from the terrible drought of the past year. However, in certain parts of the state, the rain has been dangerous. A very dry year and numerous wildfires have stripped the earth of its vegetation in some regions, such that mudslides and flooding are a real danger. Though this rain is important, in some ways the ground isn’t ready for it.

When I heard about the mudslides, I remembered something I learned years ago. There is a biblical image of one who does not follow wickedness but meditates on truth. Such a person is like a tree planted by streams of water. This image of the stream is important in how it contrasts with the rain. Any gardener or farmer will say that rather than have a heavy downpour all at once, it is far better to have a steady flow of water. Abundance is good, but consistency is better.

In my life, I see this principle take root. There is a temptation to put off important priorities because I believe I am too busy. Exercise, prayer, time for rest — I see a tendency to put things off to take care of all at once. “I’m too busy to do this today; I’ll wait until the weekend and get it done all at once.” I see this tendency in other people over longer stretches of time for relationships — “I don’t have time to eat dinner with my family these next two months, but I’ll make it up to them with a vacation.” Certainly, there are times when consistency is difficult to practice, but relying on some future downpour of activity as compensation isn’t wise.

The rain may come with terror and storm, but may find only a cracked and barren earth to welcome it. The water will wash out the soil into the sea. Yet even a quiet, constant river brings rejoicing, for where the river flows, everything will live.

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