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Water and Ditches

Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at 3:06 PM

Rain was pouring from the sky as if the very flood gates of heaven had opened over their town. Water was running through the streets searching for the lowest point--taking everything with it. The newly graveled streets were stripped bare as the water surged over them moving the rock with the power the stream of water from a fire hose connected to the new fire hydrants. It was a sight to behold.

Stepping out on the front porch, he and the dogs were about to step down to the ground on the dark morning when lightening split the sky and momentarily revealed the water running across the yard. The water ran at least six inches deep and moved so fast he wasn't certain he could stay upright with both dogs. Putting one back in the house, he and the female headed off the porch, down the two steps to the ground. However, water was rapidly rising to the top of the bottom step.

He tightened his grip on the leash, pulled his raingear more tightly around him and headed into the water. Slogging his way up the slight hill he was able to turn the corner around the house and out of the newly formed river in his front yard. The dog leaped and fought her way alongside him--fighting the current until she could get her footing under her. After she finished her morning needs they walked on around the house and down the hill behind it where the new river was flowing across the drive and out into the pasture with a back eddy coming almost to the walkout basement door. Rather than fight the river back to the front of the house they came in the basement, up the stairs and back to the living area. The other dog was waiting patiently at the front door, but he didn't have to fight the new river--he was taken through the basement and out the back to his great relief.

Watching the water rise and then slowly ebb as the rain slacked off he cautioned his wife that it was going to be a rough walk to get to her car. The water was down to a three or four inch run off when she was ready to head out the door and into work. He went out with her to help her get to the car. The speed of the water crossing their grass scared her. She had difficulty walking on the best of days, however she had faith that her husband would keep her safe.

She stepped off the porch, down the steps, and stood on the sidewalk. Water ran over her feet and made her wobble. She held his arm tightly as he put an arm around her to shield her and share his strength. She took a step forward and stopped to regain her balance. Slowly they walked together to her car parked in the driveway.

Step, pause . . . step, pause . . . step . . . . As she came to the door and he let go of her for a moment as she slid onto the seat, she thought her feet would go out from under her, but he held her and made her feel secure. Once in the car, she watched the water surge around her and was amazed at the amount of water and the fury with which it flowed--racing down the street and pouring over the crest of the small hill before it disappeared over their yard and out into the pasture. You could watch it stream almost to the pond before it dispersed into puddles and soaked into the earth.

The town had been installing a new water system--adding fire hydrants and a new water storage tower. In the process they had unfortunately destroyed the ditches and pipes that channeled the rain water safely to their small pond and on to the stream beyond it. Their home had always been the water shed for that section of town, but before the new water pipes were installed it the ditches had been engineered to disperse the water without flooding their driveway and yard.

She called the town and informed them of the problem. Someone came out after the rain stopped and unplugged the pipe that lead to their ditch--hoping that would fix the problem. It didn't. The next big rain they had the problem repeated itself and this time eroded their drive so that they had a two foot wide and foot deep trench to bump through that the water cut in its fury.

Oh, the pipe worked, but the ditches to move the water to the pipe no longer existed. Somehow in the process of burying new water pipes the ditches were all filled in. This time the road graved covered almost half of the yard and the entire drive was washed out. They called the town again.

More gravel was put down on the streets. A front end loader was used to scrape the gravel (and the grass) out of the yard. It was used to fill the new trench and tamp it down. Yet when it rained again, the same problem happened again. It seemed that every time the town tried to fix the problem they saw, they just made it worse. What was needed was a different way of looking at things. Until an engineer would plan new ditches which would funnel the water from the entire section of town to the proper drainage pipe so that it could be channeled to the pond, stream, and land the problem would simply continue to reoccur. Their intentions were good. However their vision was limited.

Many times we ask God for something "new, different, improved, or just changed" in our lives. Maybe it is more money . . . or a nicer home/car/etc. . . . or more recognition/pats on the back/popularity. Whatever we ask for we often find that when we get "it" that "it" isn't enough or the results don't last long, and soon we want/need more. We strive and struggle to fix the situation and then it becomes "unfixed" again . . . and again . . . and again.

Our problem is that we are trying to fix the problem with our understanding--which is narrow and faulted. What we need is the big picture. For that we must turn to God. Only God can see the entire situation--all the issues--all the strengths, weaknesses, consequences, and possibilities. Even though it is hard, if we trust God and leave the situation to God's wisdom--then things work out--and often not in the way we expected.

God might want to prune more in areas we prefer to have left alone. God might want to make deeper ditches in our understanding by giving us opportunity to grow or walk in someone else shoes rather than have that smooth, easy, no hassle life. God may want to "reengineer" us so that we reflect the love of God rather than ourselves.

God, we want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. Forgive us. Mold us to your image. Open our hearts and minds to be engineered in such a manner that we become all that you have hoped and dreamed for us since you first breathed life into us. When we feel ourselves losing our balance, give us the courage to reach out to you rather than depending upon our own strength to continue walking in your ways. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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