Water and Worship: Lessons from Texas (Rev. Lou Snead)
Our theme this month is "Water & Worship."
Water and Worship: Lessons from Texas
For those of us who live in Texas water represents the hand of God. We are acutely aware that God has made some parts of the earth so dry and barren under a hot sun that we must learn to live by grace and be thankful for any amount of rain. In fact, it's the scarcity of water in Texas that makes many of us so religious. While we have long been one of the largest states in the USA, Texas has only one natural lake, which is actually more of a swamp. All our nice lakes are man-made and exist by virtue of God telling early settlers in these regions to “subdue the earth”. They damned up every little river they could find and relied on God to fill the lakes with water. Consequently, people in Texas may be among the most religious people anywhere simply because we are constantly praying for rain.
Between the heat and lack of surface water we also learn to practice spiritual humility in Texas. Our reliance on the grace of God is apparent anytime we travel on our highways and notice a road sign indicating we are crossing a river or creek. Except for rare occasions, there is nothing there but a dry bed of rocks. For many proud Texans, the lack of rain in our state during severe droughts is a clear indication that God is chastening us for something. In the summertime especially, it is easy for us to appreciate all those Biblical words about the wrath of God and the calls to repent from our sinful ways. It's amazing how a string of 100+ degree days in Springtime stirs spiritual conversations among us in which we are all wondering if we have somehow fallen from the grace of God. You can't live in Texas in the summer without recognizing your dependency on the grace of God to provide us with water.
But, then, about the time we are convinced we are living under the judgment of God, a rainstorm occurs. Everyone's faith in God is quickly restored. Suddenly, the words of Isaiah 44 come rushing into our spiritual consciousness where God says, “I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground.” In these moments there is more gratitude and thanksgiving in Texas than cactus and cows. With the outpouring of water from the heavens, the worship of God can be heard everywhere. Everyone seems to know that God has redeemed us, even if we are uncertain about our merits for receiving such grace. These epiphanies sometimes come with the recognition that we may have more water than we can handle. Even in those grace-filled moments we are invited to practice a reverential awe for the power of the Almighty-”Turn Around, Don't Drown!”. Those who live near low-water crossings often have bumper stickers with a Scriptural assurance from God that reads, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and the rivers will not sweep over you.” No one in Texas who lives in a flood plain or near a river is ever afraid of baptism by immersion. When the gully-washing rains come we find ourselves clinging to the story of Noah and God's promise in the sign of a rainbow never to destroy the Earth again with water. So, when it comes to the availability of water, Texans have long found spiritual comfort in all the divine promises in Scripture.
There are, nonetheless, some heathens in Texas. Despite the periodic calls for water conservation measures by a few environmentalists, we have some irreverent among us who believe there is an abundance of water that can draw out of the ground here. In their rapacious desire for water our underground aquifers have been depleted. This lust for water can best be seen in the development of the Texas wine industry in recent decades. As is always the case with religious charlatans, we now have arrogant Texans who profess a spiritual mission around the idea that Jesus turned water into wine. That's exactly what they say they are doing. The abundance of micro-breweries popping up everywhere in Texas suggests this pseudo-evangelistic spirit has also taken hold among those who want to transform our precious underground water into beer. They have even erected their own cultic temple in Shiner, Texas.
However, God-fearing folks in Texas know very well that water comes directly from the hand of God. We know we must do our part to convert the heathens who have no appreciation for divine nature of water in our state. So, from the Gulf beaches to Balmorhea Springs, from Caddo Lake to the Rio Grande, we are calling them to join us in maintaining a spiritual reverence for the blessings of water as a gift from God not to be taken for granted. Fortunately, we have a long-standing state law that captures water in this same religious spirit. We also take heart right now because it is obvious that God is on our side in this spiritual battle over water. Summer isn't here yet and our daily temperatures are already exceeding 100 degrees. Before long, God will have all of us on our knees praying.