Have you ever been really thirsty? I had a night like that--it was terrible. I woke up every few hours feeling so parched, I thought I wouldn't be able to get my tongue unstuck from the roof of my mouth. I drank about a gallon (so maybe I exaggerate!) of water and it didn't dent the giant need I felt. But this morning it made me think of something I wrote about in my journal a couple months ago, so instead of composing on the spot, as I've always done so far (but who knows, I might be starting a new trend here), I'm going to post that. We'd gone to an all-day Renewal Sunday, where the spotlight was on mission, at the church our friend pastors, and these are from my journal that night.
Of all the thoughts, images, impressions of this day, what lingers is water. What it is to experience fresh, clear, clean, life-giving water after a history of not knowing what that is. Never knowing, as many Wolof people of Senegal don't, the essence of the thing when it's right beneath the ground, available with the proper equipment. Water--it makes me cry to see again, when I close my eyes:
the first pump of the handle, the first rush out the spout, the clear glass of it spilling into the bowl, and the beautiful little children dipping their hands into the bowl and scooping it up to sip, thrusting fingers through the pouring fountain of it. Life-changing. The metaphor is too obvious to be overlooked, even for those dull-witted (as we are), this is Kingdom work, this amazingly simple gospel work of giving water.
And I write of it with tears and hunger--the Wolof people of Senegal, the least and the poorest in this world, who have scrambled their whole lives in pursuit of water and sustenance. What could I learn from them? I want to sit in their doorway with them, Lord, I want to be taught of the world by them. I want to see what the world looks like through their eyes, hear who you might be to them. My heart is breaking and full all at once, and I think of water.
And how we are so consumed by our consumer mentality and desire for health and perfection that we purify the purist water on earth. And pollute in the process, by the sheer volume of plastic jugs, bottles and containers we use and throw away. Yet there they are pulling up dirty, brown water, drinking it, cooking in it--cooking in mud. Never even knowing what water looks like. We shower, water lawns, wash clean clothes... and there are children (3 in 5) dying from lack of or bad water. No wonder we're fat. Fat and dying. Me as much as anyone.
And I think of water. Jesus' tears for the poor in this world--the poor whose needs I glimpse, and those whose needs I do not. The poor who wait to hear the world has not forgotten them in their plight. He weeps because He called us to be His church in their world, and we worry about what the church can do for us--we think it's here for our sake. He weeps because they will never hear until they survive to hear, and that means those needs, those basic needs, so basic we don't even list them as needs--water, food, clothing, shelter--are cared for. He weeps.
So I think of water. And how thirsty I am for Africa, how that thirst is a Psalm 63 thirst, "my soul longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water." Africa--exactly! This thirst has grown and grown until I am nearly dehydrated with it and it aches through me. And I thirst for it for them. Water for the land and water for those in the land.
Africa. I think of water.