One day I was running my sprinklers to check to see if they were working properly. You know, looking for sprinkler heads that need replaced. Making sure that none of the sprinkler heads were buried or spraying in the wrong direction. For a homeowner in Florida, this is a common and regular practice. That is, if you want a lawn that survives the dry season.
On this one particular occasion I was standing by the road, in my front yard. The section that watered the grass, closest to the road, was turned on. As I walked back and forth on the sidewalk to check everything out, I noticed the water beginning to pool and flow down the angled shoulder of the road. This is, of course, as it should be. For the road was designed to funnel all of the water to the sides and lead it to the storm drain. This was to insure that the road wouldn’t flood.
As I stood there watching the water run down the street, I imagined that I was in a helicopter, high above a newly forming river in some isolated canyon out west. The rainy season had arrived and the once barren, dry canyon was now being flooded by a wall of water. I found myself slowly walking along, with the water, watching as it encountered obstacle after obstacle.
Some grass trimmings, a crack in the concrete, a stick, a crushed water bottle that a rude person threw out of their car window. At each obstacle, the water would slow down and pile up. Yet, it would always, eventually, find its way around or over any and all obstacles.
It was on a mission and nothing was going to stop it. I watched in amazement, like I had never witnessed water flowing down a street before, as the water morphed itself, contorted itself and found a way around each and every obstacle. The water did what it needed to do in order to continue on its path, toward the storm drain.
The water knew where it was going and nothing was going to stop it. Yes, there were things that would slow it down, but eventually the water found a way around everything and on it went, toward the storm drain. This got me thinking about life and the obstacles that we all encounter.
How many of us encounter obstacles like financial stress, health problems or relationship issues, that stop us in our tracks? We yell and scream and cry. We rage against the machine. We protest the fact that life isn’t being fair to us and that life is somehow suppressing us or discriminating against us. Worse yet, too many times, we wallow in self-pity and self-loathing in the face of our obstacles, and we blame God.
The whole time we are making no progress. We become stuck, bitter and resentful. The glass becomes half empty. And the longer we live and the more obstacles that we face, the worse this all gets.
In those times, may we all learn a lesson from the water. “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38) As I was standing there watching that water flow down the street, encountering obstacle after obstacle, I never once heard the water bitch and moan about its situation. Never once did the water stop moving, stop searching, stop seeking a way around any and all obstacles. And, low and behold, no obstacle was able to stop the water. It made it to the storm drain.
All-be-it, not by a course that was straight and smooth. But rather, as I looked back up the street, I saw the twists and turns, the deep pools that had formed behind obstacles like a plastic bottle or a crack in the concrete. The path wasn’t neat and tidy. It was messy. But it was beautiful. And, above all, it was steady and consistent in its pursuit.
And isn’t that just like life? We want our lives to be neat and tidy, everything in its place and everything happening according to plan. Yet, that isn’t real. We all encounter obstacles that will prevent us from being who we were created to be, if we allow them.
May we all learn a valuable lesson from the water. May we all just keep moving forward, slowly but surely in the living water that flows from within us. Sometimes we will have to change our course. Sometimes we will have to slow down. But may we never stop moving.