Rainy season is over now and water has become a precious commodity again. A few weeks ago I was filling a bucket from the holding tank that catches rain from our roof. While I was waiting for the container to fill, my language helper came to the fence. “I’ll be right back to turn off the hose,” I thought to myself. My helper had come to study, so we went inside and did some recordings. Then her kids watched a movie while I chatted with their mom. Then she left and I worked out. Then I showered. Then I went to my co-worker’s house for dinner. Then we had a prayer meeting. Then…I remembered the hose.
I ran to the house with my flashlight and saw that the holding tank was empty. I had spilled 1200 liters of precious rain water all over the dry ground. Although the rest of the team was very gracious about it, offering to help me go get more to fill it, I was angry. I was disproportionately angry. I stood in the dark next to the tank and cried. In my heart I said, “This is how I feel, Lord…empty.”
The next night I lay on my cot and a similar experience from my childhood came to mind. I had put the hose in the washing machine to help it fill more quickly and then had gone to talk to a friend outside. I got distracted with this and that and when I came back a few hours later, a river of water was running down the hill by our home. How did I react then? I simply went inside, was thankful the water ran out the door instead of flooding the room, and turned off the hose.
So what made the difference? The hose in my childhood story was hooked up to a pump that ran down to the river. You could run that thing all day long for weeks and never think twice about the source drying up. Our holding tank, on the other hand, had the last bit of rain for the year.
I realized that my attitude towards the water was being echoed in my interactions with the village people. I’ve only got so much patience, I would reason, and then that’s it. The next person who comes to the fence is going to get the real me…the irritable, tired, real me. I can only be generous one more time today, and then I’m done. I’m about running on empty.
As I was contemplating those things, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. “This attitude comes from you not understanding the nature of your source. You only have a limit when the strength is coming from yourself. If you really knew that your source was like an endless river, you would respond differently.”
God’s patience, his generosity, his love, his grace are limitless. When we remember we are connected to him, we draw on limitless resources. We are not stingy with others because we know what we have to give will never run out. We open up the hose and let it run, with joy, over the dry and weary land where there is no water. We don’t worry about it drying up, being wasted, or running out. And with the measure we give, it’s returned to us, overflowing, spilling out, and pouring over.
So, what actually happened after everything with the water in the tribe? It rained. In two days, the tank was full again. Even though the time for rain was over, God refilled and renewed and reminded me that every good thing has its source in Him.