If you've been watching the national news over the past few weeks, you know that the upper Midwest and Northeast are getting "clobbered" by one storm after another. If it's not frozen moisture, it's the liquid kind. Snow or rain, they have received lots of it, and they wish it would stop. Yet even if it stops, there's the threat of heavy run-off and rivers overflowing their banks and causing massive flooding.
This year, in our region of the world (Montezuma and Dolores counties) we seem to be experiencing the opposite. "Drought conditions are predicted to continue," and the decision to use water reserves last year knowingly put our farming communities at risk this year. And now, many people seem to think we can just sit back and reminisce on the history of this region, its ups and downs climatically, and ride out another moistureless farming season. The wise among us suggest we can only "hope" for a better year next year.
It seems to me we have become a people who rely too heavily on history and science, the facts and figures that add up to reasonable expectations based upon what we know happened in the past. We seek out and believe that hard facts can and do help us determine what will be happening in our future. And so we rely on experts like meteorologists to pinpoint the causes of our daily weather by studying climatic conditions and historical change, and then reasonably predict what will happen on any given day.
In the past, we used to have two kinds of people: those who only believed what they could see and feel, and those who believed in what can't be seen but they know it's there. The latter believe in the spiritual world, and their numbers over the last 800 years have greatly diminished due to the shift in human thought and the elevation of science. "We can figure it out," we say, and then we go about proving it. And it's true, humankind has made great strides in all areas of existence. We can thank God for giving us the intellect to do this. But as we've done this, we've turned away from our Creator God. We pay less attention to God, and neglect to consider what He has done in the world, and what He's willing to do for his people today.
Holy Scripture tells us to seek and knock, and keep knocking (on the doors of heaven, or the heart of God, however you choose to visualize it), and God will answer. So my questions in all of this are these: Why do we simply listen to the scientists, and accept their best well-educated guesses about the future, when God holds the future in His hands? Why don't we turn to Him with our needs, talk to Him in prayer, and ask Him specifically to pour out blessings of rain on the parched land around us?
Naysayers will suggest that droughts around here run in cycles, and this is just the way it is. But I suggest that it doesn't have to be this way, now or ever. I suggest that everyone in this community needs to pray boldly for rain. Pray to our Creator God to share the moisture that's abundantly falling in other parts of our country with us here in Montezuma and Dolores Counties. Pray that the crops of the field will receive the moisture they need to grow and flourish. Pray that moisture will grow the crops that are needed to feed the animals of the fields and forests so that they too flourish. Pray that all farm and ranch families will have a "bumper crop" year. And pray that God in his Almighty Power will confound the doubters, and provide for those in need.
Where can you do this? Of course you can do this in the morning or evening in your homes alone. But you can also join with others in community. You can come to Johnson Memorial UMC, 105 N. 8th St., and pray in our Peace Garden at the front of the church any time. Or join our prayer group every Friday morning at 10 a.m. in our sanctuary as we pray for rain, our community, our nation and the world. This time of quiet prayer usually lasts 30 minutes or so, and everyone is welcome to drop in any Friday.
Please pray boldly for rain throughout the summer months, so that our entire region may be blessed.
Rick Carpenter is pastor of the Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church in Dolores, and also of the Methodist church in Dove Creek.