Our Most Precious Resource

In the court of public opinion, there are no winners.

Am I the only one who thinks like this?

I’ve crafted a life that very carefully kowtows to the various cults out there… the environmental cults of save the trees and save the animals from plastics, and the food cults that say processed is bad and fresh is best, and the cult of cleanliness is next to godliness, and the cult of send your kids to school with colorful, nutritious lunches packed in neat little boxes, send them neat and tidy and well-showered and (goodness knows I try) well-groomed (although my tween is really challenging my style and sense of well-groomed). I have bowed at their altars, taken photos of my triumphs and shared them on Facebook, proud of my stellar accomplishments, expecting another star for my motherhood crown.

And now, in a barrage of letters, newspaper articles, and yard signs, I’m suddenly told that my efforts are not good enough because we’re in a drought and everyone needs to reduce water usage by 25%. Suddenly, water, and not trees, or the atmosphere, or the polar ice caps, is our most precious resource. And I’m scathing that poor planning, lack of responsible management, and politics have led us to this point (I can’t honestly say that I know these things to be factual, but it is ALWAYS easier to point the finger at someone else!).

So, in my mind, I’m playing David Letterman and creating the top 10 list of how to conserve water, and I’m laughing like a maniac at how it all flies in the face of the other altars of humanity at which I’ve been bowing. Like this:
10. Do laundry less. Because stained and smelly with food hanging off the sleeve is the new black.
9. Buy more clothes so you can do laundry less. But some poor person in a third world country is sitting in a sweatshop under horrific conditions for you to buy those new clothes at a “reasonable price.”
8. Flush less. Ewwww. At what point does that become unsanitary?
7. Use less soap and water for cleaning and more harsh chemicals.
6. Eat more processed foods…. We save water in these ways: watering the garden, rinsing the fresh foods, preparing the foods, washing the prepping pans, cutting boards, knives, spoons, etc. After all, no water is used when you take your meal straight from the freezer to the microwave.
5. Paper plates, plastic silverware, Styrofoam cups! Can’t you just hear the tree-huggers screaming! But if I’m not running the dishwasher, then I’m saving water.
4. Plastic baggies for packing school lunches. Suddenly, my life is getting easier! And the plastic industry is happy!
3. Become bigger consumers… eat out more, travel more, be away from the house MORE… it’s someone else’s water bill.
2. Bathe less and when you do, do it Navy style, and line the shower with buckets to capture every last drop of this precious resource. People, I have a tween … I can attest here and now that this is a public safety issue.
1. Live like this is a third world country.

Okay, I might be a bit cynical about this whole thing.

And the conscious kicks it into high gear.

Because back in 2011, when I first started working with Compassion Tea Company, I became aware of a medical clinic in Zambia called Chalabesa Mission Hospital. This medical clinic was run by a nun who worked tirelessly to bring medical care to the people of the bush. Her clinic was the only one for miles around. People walked all day to reach it. They waited all day to be seen. The nun might treat over 200 people in one day. And the clinic operated on solar panels that worked sporadically and it’s water pipes had broken. At that time, the nun and her meager staff walked 169 yards to a dirty river where elephants bathe in order to bucket brigade water back to the clinic. (read more)

Waddington by the Mission Medic Air plane and team members.

Waddington by the Mission Medic Air plane and team members.

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Carrying water on their heads

Carrying water on their heads

A boy struggles with his water load.

A boy struggles with his water load.

Laundry and water are carried in jerrycans long distances.

Laundry and water are carried in jerrycans long distances.

Three years have passed.

And while the nun is a different person, the bucket brigade continues. The medical care is often provided by flashlight. And 100s of people still walk miles and wait hours for the care.

CompassioNow has worked with Mission Medic Air, Zambia to remedy this situation, but things move slowly in Zambia. We’re waiting breathlessly to hear that the pipes have been fixed, that a new well has been dug, that running water is back at the clinic. It could happen soon! We’re praying it happens soon.

Water is a precious resource, and Zambia is a third world country, and they’ve learned to be creative and resourceful to meet the needs of the people there.

And I’m writing cynical letters to the editors in my head, throwing snarky comments around in my head when I see the neighbor’s teenage son hosing off his beater car, and generally in a bad frame of mind over this new inconvenience.

And there’s Jesus at the well, talking to the woman who has come to fill her bucket for the day. He’s telling her that he can offer her living water.

John 4: 10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Jesus doesn’t tell her that she’ll never have to come to the well again. She’ll need to go to the well again. Life demands water. But the burden of it will be lifted. She hears his words thinking this is the fountain of youth he is offering, a spring of water that offers perpetual youth and strength, eternal life even. In the sense of life on earth forever, not in the heavenly sense. And she’s ready to sign her name on the dotted line, to enter contract on this amazing fountain of joy.

Give me this water! My heart echoes her’s. Give me this water that I will never be thirsty again. Thirst is a wild craving. It gums up the throat, it clouds the brain, it pastes the tongue in place. Thirst is a cynicism, body turning into desert.

Give me this water! This water that quenches the cynicism, the dried up thoughts and pasty mouth, that says, “You have eternal life through Jesus; so what’s the fuss?”

“A fresh bubbling spring within them.” A spring fed by the Holy Spirit, joy unspeakable, life eternal.

This is the most precious resource.

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  1. Our Most Precious Resource | compassiontea

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