The Judean Desert has never been known for its abundance of water. The same goes for Bethlehem which sits on the perimeter of the Judean Desert. And so it is that every summer in recent history Bethlehem experiences a water shortage. The people of Bethlehem expect it and especially those living in the refugee camps.
I think I was short on water for a day or two last summer, that’s it. Well, this year I had the privilege of learning a deeper lesson – the lesson that came from a week without water.
It began one normal day when a father and his son from Aza Camp in Bethlehem showed up in their worn out white four-door Datsun-ish car that certainly predates my 30 years. It was around noon and it was quite hot – around 90 degrees with the fiery desert wind pushing the flame into my eyes. The father explained they were without water and asked if they could take some of mine. I know the family, all 8 or so of them, and I was happy to bless them with water. Moreover, I’ve never known of a water shortage in my building.
So, they emptied their car of its many canisters and began to fill them up. The image reminded me of Elisha filling the jars with oil in 2 Kings 4. As they filled their “jars” I went inside to grab leftover eclairs that a friend brought the night before from the fridge. I put them on a paper plate and handed them off to the son. He smiled big. I was reminded of months ago when he and his friend (both 12 years old) spontaneously showed up at my apartment to ask for help studying for their English exam the next day. His face carries delight like a ripe apple carries the glow of the sun.
Well, they went on their way and I was so thankful to the Lord for the easy chance to serve this family. Easy took a turn the next day when I turned on my faucet and discovered I was out of water. Neighbors in my buiding assured me the tank would refill itself within two days so, since my landlord is out-of-country, I waited. Two days later my friend Natalie and I were on the roof of our four story building trying to siphon water from her tank to mine using a garden hose! Two hours later, gravity still stood in our way: the tanks were at the same height so, the water would begin to transfer and then halt.
So, I called the building handyman. And a few days later he showed up. Unable to determine the problem, he left saying he would return in an hour. Three hours later I called him. Despite saying he was on his way, it wasn’t until the next evening (Sunday) that he returned and the water returned with him. Granted, the hot water still has yet to makes its appearance, but I’m honored to have water again!
And it was amazing to me the thoughts that went through my head in my waterless week. It was amazing how the lack of water threw me off-balance. Sure, I could still shower by going upstairs to my friend Natalie’s place, and sure, I could still water the flowers using the building’s outside faucet, and sure I was touched when a friend came over to use my computer and ended up filling up my plain ol’ store bought water bottles with water. I was happy to have different sorts of blessings that the usual, but I was also off-sync. There was a large pile of dishes next to my kitchen sink because I had a game night at my place the day before the water left. I was washing my hands with water-bottle water. And my showers had to be planned ahead.
I felt like I was on a long walk with one barefoot and one shoed foot. I talked with God a lot: “Father, I must be able to be unaffected by my surroundings. I must be able to live without water, or electricity, or internet, or even in a time of war. I must be able to keep my peace, YOUR peace, in all circumstances. Help me understand how to better keep my peace. How to have your anointing IN, ON, and AROUND me ALL THE TIME regardless of the detours in my life. Help! Holy Spirit, teach me!”
I kept thinking of Sudanese refugees who trekked from Sudan to Israel in search of home. I kept thinking of the sacrifices they made, the strength they exhibited to simply keep their families and their own psyches in one piece, and how they lived in tents, in the open, in the homes of strangers for years. I thought about what my peace would look like in that environment. As much as my peace has grown in steadfastness over the last three years through overcoming: language gaps, culture gaps, financial stretching, lack of close friends, experience gaps from friends and family in the USA, physical hardship, and living in a place known for it’s lack of peace – I have so much more I desire in His anointing and the Holy’s Spirit’s habitation.
A week without water made me insanely thirsty. For more of the Holy Spirit.
I want to always surrender to the Holy Spirit, to always make a place for Him, to live in the righteous, joyful, fullness of John 7:38,
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
I believe the Holy Spirit within me makes me a well, for myself and for others. I believe my joy as the bride of Christ in my wedding vows to Him, include “for water or for worse, for richer or for poorer.” I resolve to perpetually be filled and re-filled by the Holy Spirit – always flowing with water – even when my apartment, my city, my nation are not. Thank you, Holy Spirit that you make the impossible possible! Thank you for carrying out the Father’s faithfulness and Jesus’ atonement! I will spend the rest of my life getting to know you and surrendering to your wind. I love you, Holy Spirit!