09 April 2011

Receeding River... Shriveling Soul

We've lived in Niamey, by the banks of the Niger River, for several years now. The river is often the topic of conversation, a place to relax, a place to fear... always intriguing... There's just something fascinating about a river, any river. It is doubly true when you live on the backside of the world's largest desert, in the world's hottest capital city and that river is your primary source of water.

One detail I tend to watch is the water levels and how they change... drastically... over the course of the year. Driving over the river every day, even just leaving our house and heading to one of the nearer paved roads, you crest the top of a dune and there spreads the river before you (along with the water treatment plant). Some days, I've spent more time than I'd planned just sitting on the bridge that spans the width of the river, waiting for traffic to begin moving again, watching whitecaps blow upstream, young men washing laundry, pumpkins and squash floating from huge boats to the bank by the bridge, boys frolicking around in the shallows and even the occasional hippo who's crossed the dam and is hanging out by the bridge... in fact, that is why traffic is moving so slowly. Everyone is double checking to make sure it is a hippo and not a rock they'd never noticed before.

This year, we saw the water higher than we'd ever seen it. It was so high, in fact, that the MK school had contingency plans in place in case the water overflowed the dike... or in case the dike was breeched. And the water remained high longer into the new year than I ever remember it before.

But then, one day, suddenly, it turned. Driving carpool to or from school, someone remarked that the water looked a little lower than the day before. Ditto the next day... and the next. The amount of water drops visibly, rapidly, literally from day to day. Soon, shepherds will be walking their cattle from one side to the other... where once there was a wide, mostly unbroken expanse of flowing water.

Isn't that a perfect word picture of what happens when we neglect the Source of living water in our lives? It doesn't take long before everyone around us can see that the Spirit's presence is not flowing as fully as before... those closest to us can probably remark even a daily change if... when... we do not place ourselves consistently and faithfully and humbly at His feet, searching His Word, leaning on His wisdom as He fills us with Living Water, fresh and alive, Himself? 

(1st photo: AFP Photo, taken17 Aug 2010)

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