The Gift of Water in the Desert
As I was walking today, I noticed all the empty water bottles, beer bottles, and soda cans strewn along the shoulder of the road. Cast-offs of delinquent children (of all ages) too lazy to pick up their trash and throw it away properly in a garbage receptacle. As if they expected some cosmic mother to come along and clean up after them. Even those of us who would never toss an empty plastic bottle along the side of the road, usually expect the cosmic mother to clean up somewhere else. We consume more than we need, never replacing what we take and take. Expecting mother nature to make up the difference even if it will take centuries beyond our mortal lifetime.
Caring for the Earth
My husband decided to compost a couple years ago. Unless forced to, I’d probably never bother. I dislike the smell of rotting food, the issue of attracting cockroaches, the daily raking and turning to assist the decomposition. But my husband is giving back. Replenishing the earth that has gifted him with food. And by virtue of being married to him, I get the bonus of the blessing. His love of gardening teaches me a lot about caring for the earth.
The Totoaba Tragedy
The other night we had dinner at a restaurant where we ordered fish. When we asked what it was we were told it was Totoaba. It is now an endangered species but once flourished in the northern Sea of Cortez. The government of Mexico recently decided to commission fish farms to see if Totoaba could be successfully raised and then reintroduced into the wild. Our flaky, white fish—simply delicious—was one of the success stories. But the reason it’s practically disappeared? It originally spawned in the Colorado River delta. When the U.S. constructed Hoover Dam and altered the water flow to the shores of Mexico, it cut off the amount of fresh water needed for certain species to survive. The salinity of the water became too high for the Totoaba to spawn. This fish became a casualty of a territorial war over water. Unfortunately, it lived on the wrong side of the border.
Who Is My Neighbor?
The Colorado River Project caused devastation for many areas along the Mexican border. Whole fishing communities were decimated as rivers and lakes dried up like empty bottles tossed by the side of the road from their next-door neighbor. Jesus once told a parable that addressed the question, “Who is my neighbor?” As Christians we tend to keep the answer within pretty tight parameters. But with water becoming more and more the single most valuable resource in the world, how will those of us who have more . . . share? We claim to worship the God of Living Water, the one who causes streams to run in the desert, the one who we claim owns everything. Then why are we so hesitant to share? Instead of offering water, we begin to hoard it . . . cup by cup by cup.
The Defining Crisis
Water rights have been a bone of contention since the beginning of time. Even in the Bible there are discussions over wells and who controlled their access. Fred Pierce, in his book When the Rivers Run Dry: Water—The Defining Crisis of the 21st Century says, “The Rio Grande is drying up before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico; the Nile has been dammed to a trickle; reservoirs behind ill-conceived dams sacrifice millions of gallons of water to evaporation, while wetlands and floodplains down river dry up as water flow dwindles. In India, villagers lacking access to clean water for irrigation and drinking are sinking tube wells hundreds of feet down, plundering underground supplies far faster than rainfall can replace them—the same fate facing the Ogallala aquifer of the American Midwest.”
How Do We Fight for Water Justice?
Maude Barlow, in her book Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water shares these probing questions: “How will the water in the Colorado River be shared as the population in the US Southwest continues to grow? How will Israel, Jordan, and Palestine share the water of the Jordan River? How will Turkey and Syria resolve the conflict over the big dam project on the Euphrates? How do we encourage water conservation and fight for water justice?”
What Does Jesus Expect of Me?
I am not a politician, an ecologist, or even a decent environmentalist. I know that I still use too much water when I wash my dishes, wash my clothes, or take a shower. But I do claim to be a follower of Jesus. I do claim to believe in a personal God, not a distant cosmic mother who will show up, “tsk-tsk,” and sweep up my messes. I think Jesus expects a whole lot more from me. Where is Jesus asking me to conserve more? I live in La Paz, Mexico, one of the most beautiful, pristine areas still left on the Sea of Cortez. Am I doing my part in taking care of the eco-system where God has placed me? Am I being a good neighbor?
Maybe tomorrow, when I go for my morning walk, I’ll bring a trash bag to collect the garbage alongside the road. Just a small task. But one that means I care, that I’m not waiting for someone else to improve the world I live in. However, while picking up trash, taking shorter showers, and recycling are all good things, they are only small pieces of a larger puzzle. I invite you to browse one of the websites listed below that address water ecology. Educating ourselves is the first step of Global Stewardship Awareness. Evangelism is more than just offering Jesus’ living water to thirsty souls, it’s also being a care taker of the natural resources God has blessed us with.
Websites:Discovery Team & Water Sanitation Project
Living Water International
Water Missions International
Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)
Resource Development International - Cambodia
Water Wells for Africa