Earlier this week, the Mississippi River was closed at Greenville, MS. Imagine: the iconic waterway closed to traffic! The reason: drought in the Midwest meant less water flowing into the Mississippi, so the water level had fallen to 7.5 feet, not enough for heavily-laden barges to navigate. One barge ran aground. Many others had to wait at Memphis.

The news got me thinking about how our lives are like rivers, and sometimes we experience the effects of spiritual and emotional drought. What can we do about it?

1.  Wait. Like the barges jammed up at Memphis, sometimes we simply have to give in to the reality of the moment and wait on God or somebody else before we can move forward. It’s frustrating to be in circumstances we can’t control and at the mercy of someone else. But one of the key pieces of advice the Bible often gives is “Wait on the Lord.” I often wish God would hurry up and get on with it, but if we wait creatively and well, we may grow through the experience.

2.  Dig deeper. The Mississippi at Greenville had to be dredged to 9.5 feet to let the barges through. In similar fashion, sometimes we have to reach deep into ourselves to find those emotional and spiritual reserves. We may discover we have none and may need to build some or it may be that we find we have resources of the spirit that we did not realize were within us.

3.  Plan for tomorrow. Global warming is, I suspect, responsible for the droughts from which the country is suffering. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if these conditions are the new normal. When we get into a spiritual drought, when the river stops flowing and giving us streams of living water, should we be developing strategies and learning ways of handling the loss, the sense of absence of God, the loss of enthusiasm (remember: to be “enthused” originally meant to be “filled with God.”)? Maybe the flowing, refreshing stream is gone for good or maybe not. But perhaps preparing for a tomorrow in which the trickle and the mud are the norm is a good idea.

One thing I know for sure: whatever comes, God provides.

© 2012 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.

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