Out here in West Texas, we are parched. The earth is dry and cracked. The grass is yellow and the trees wilt for want of moisture. Rain clouds come and go. We watch them disappear in the endless horizon, praying that the hot wind will carry in another batch that will let loose the torrential rain that we need. There’s no end in sight. Yet, we pray, and we trust, and we sing “Showers of Blessing” on Sunday while the sun beats down on the church roof.
West Texas lakes are evaporating into thin air. The once murky, fish-filled bottoms of everyone’s favorite fishing holes and boating playgrounds are now baking in the sun like everything else. But, this week, at the bottom of one of those lakes, a small forgotten pioneer town rose from the depths.
It was called Halsell. People began moving in there in the 1860s, and it was officially established as a town in 1900. People have been water skiing over the remains of the place since the mid-1960s when the 16,000 acre lake was built right over the site.
Since the drought has revealed the remnants of the little town once again, curious residents of the surrounding area have gone searching for artifacts among the ruins. Not only have they discovered the foundation of the once two-story school house, but they found small reminders that life once flourished in this place, hidden for so many years by the dark waters of Lake Arrowhead. All these years, a little slice of pioneer history lay buried under the water, and it took the worst drought in the past 60 years to bring these fascinating little artifacts back to the surface again.
Water is good. We need lots more of it. But, when drought does come, it can make us thankful for different things, can’t it? It can help us look out over a bleak and brown landscape and still see the beauty in a bluebird’s stark contrast to his surroundings. It can help us appreciate the little green weeds that pop up amid the yellow grass. It can help us savor every drop of a rain shower, no matter how quickly it passes. And, sometimes, if we’re really lucky, it can help us rediscover a little pioneer town that has long been forgotten.
Someday it will start raining around here again, and it won’t stop. It will rain and rain and things will turn green and flowers will bloom and our lakes will splash right back up to the docks and the grassy embankments that will be teeming with lush green foliage of all kinds. But, even when that happens we won’t be free of times of drought. Because sometimes drought comes into our lives in other ways. Maybe through the death of someone we love. A divorce. Mental illness. Doubt. A sick child. Loneliness. And, in those times of drought we cry out to God to rain His healing, love, and mercy into our lives. He will. But, there is value in the times of drought.
Sometimes when we are parched and weary and feel like we’re going to dry up and blow away, the drought reveals some things about us that have been long hidden. Compassion, maybe. Humility. Forgiveness. They rise out of the depths of our souls like a little forgotten pioneer town. And, we mine them to find the goodness of God, inside us all the while, but buried and forgotten.
Some things just can’t be found in the deep waters of everything’s-fine. But, in the dry places? You just never know what might surface. We can trust the One who does know. In luscious growth and in all the parched patches, He knows what He’s doing.