Have you ever thought about where we begin life? Each of us begins our life in water. It is in the mysterious and dark cover of the wombs water that the miracle of life transforms from two cells into an entire person. Birth takes place when the waters break and we move out into the bright light of the waiting world. In a place like the Middle East and Australia, springs, pools, streams, and wetlands are the promise of God to a people desperate for signs of renewal and life. Isaiah tells us that God has not forgotten them and does not forget us. Lust when we get down and think all good has dried up and all right has gone, God sends water to refresh and revitalise.
Last Christmas Wendy and I took a trip from Sydney to South Australia. Part of that took us across the Hay Plain and the desert tip of Victoria. After hearing all the hype about how spectacular this trip can be I was a little let down. But then I thought about the country we had been across and how endless and spectacular it would have been to those first Europeans heading out there. Also, it would look more amazing from above in an Airplane. Being a little biased of course, I then began to think of the magnificence of the Southern Alps in Aotearoa (NZ) where I am originally from.
Then I began to think about Australia and what a trickle of water had done over millennia to this land. A place where streams and rivers had carved out the shape of this great southern land. Whereas Aotearoa is a young country only just beginning to feel the effects and power of water. So, these landscapes are what a trickle will do. In Christ, the trickle became the stream became the river became the flood. It was as if as Isaiah indicated, that heaven itself rained down in a torrent that was renewing and transforming. The desert bloomed and will bloom again.
Not only does this speak to me of transformation but also of patience. Be patient is an Advent theme. Patience is not something we seem to value these days. Everything seems to be for the instant and no sense of patience. We seem to value speed and efficiency. Have you needed to be patient lately? Did patience ever bring you something better than what you might have got if it had been instant.
In James 5 we hear of a farmer which is back to the land and water again. It talks of what happens when crops are harvested too soon. When I was young and little my brothers and I used to garden with my father. I remember in the very early days being impatient for the veges to be ready. So, it was tempting to pull and look. I’m not sure which one of us pulled onions and carrots to check on them, but it was done with a natural child’s impatience. However, it was a way too early in the season. When they were ready to be harvested, impatience had sometimes caused too much damage and the crop was light. We did though learn from Dad, patience, nurture and care before we could harvest. And harvest we did, often having Peas, Carrots and New Potatoes for the family Christmas lunch.
For many of those years we had the support and encouragement of our father. That reminds me that we are community not just individuals. We then are enabled to achieve things together that are impossible to achieve on our own. In community, we can encourage one another. We also can support others and do things with them that help to pass the time, taking our minds of the things that might test our patience. We can make a collective commitment to focus on the good that can be achieved and the positive that is possible thus giving less power to the irritating and annoying.
When others are patient with us, it can be a powerful reminder of what a gift patience is. Transforming the world takes time like the water running through our landscape. But to transform requires patience and working in community with God and creation.