We prayed for rain at my first prayer meeting in San Antonio. I soon learned that water is serious business in South Texas. Drought magnifies the knowledge of our reliance on God for all things. Even for water, a substance so abundant that it covers 71% of the earth's surface. However, like most things, water is not evenly distributed. In San Antonio rain generates as many tweets and texts as a Spurs win.
Conservationist, Andrew Sansom, Executive Director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, reminds us that, while most of us get clean water from a tap, it is not so easy for others. On a global scale, a woman will walk an average of nine miles daily to get water for her family. The water itself can be of questionable quality. Every 20 seconds someone in the world will die from a waterborne illness.
Sanson says that, in Texas, there is a tension between environmental protection and economic development related to urban growth. Part of the problem is that the majority of the population lives in urban areas and lacks a spiritual connection to water. They have rarely seen it in the “wild” nor have suffered from it's scarcity.
Water is essential to life. It composes 57% of the human body. We could not live more than five days without. We seek it in space as a sign of extra-terrestrial life. Yet, we fail to show it appropriate honor.
Professor David Jensen (Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary), provides a theological perspective on water. He points out that water is present at creation. God's activity made it useful.
In the Genesis flood we see the destructive power of water. We see it again in the parting of the Red Sea. In both cases one's relationship to God made the difference between life and death.
Through the act of baptism, Christians use water to symbolize the death of the old self and rebirth.
Water has some awesome qualities that point to God. These include the vastness of the oceans, the pristine stillness of a mountain lake and power of a white water river. At the micro level, water is found in every living cell.
Jesus identified himself with life giving water. He said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38)
Water is a source of blessing. Jesus said that giving water to the thirsty was ministry to Himself and that a cup of cold water given to a disciple shall be rewarded.
It is difficult to be thankful for something that seems as abundant as air but, if we are mindful of the scarcity of clean water for some people and the power of life and death that water caries, we can drink to our health with gratitude.