Thursday, October 18, 2007

Green Leaf in Drought Time

Well, no rain fell today, but the forecast still says its coming, just a little later. We keep praying.

My thoughts lately about drought and Cameroon reminded me of a book we read the year we were there. Written by Isobel Kuhn, Green Leaf in Drought Time, is the story of the "reluctant exodus" from China by Wilda and Arthur Matthews, the last China Inland Missionaries to remain in the country after it fell to Communism. In the introduction of the book, Kuhn says that "the purpose of this book is not to simply tell another story of the trials that Christians and missionaries faced under communism in China. Its true purpose is to describe God's provision for His children that allows them to 'put forth green leaves when all others around are dried up and dying from the drought.'" (CBD website).

I ask myself, do I wilt in dry seasons or do I put forth green leaves? Do I die back or bear fruit?

The botanist in me thinks about what happens to plants. When there is plenty of water, plants are capable of surviving with less than a full root system. With plenty of surface moisture, the roots don't have to go down so deep. But in the absence of rainfall, these plants that have grown under moist conditions are the first to start failing. They are marginal because they do not have fully developed root systems and, of course, the marginal plants are the first to go. In dry weather, plants without a full, healthy, deep root system, plants that were on the edge of survival under good conditions, do not have the ability to withstand the adverse conditions of drought.

Plants respond to drought in two ways. Short term response includes wilting, scorching, and browning of leaf tips and margins which spreads to the area between the veins. Long term response includes greater susceptibility to diseases and insects, and more cankers and borers. If no significant rain comes in time, plants will die.

I wonder if our easy American Christianity is like living in moist soil. We do not face persecution or death for our faith. We have abundant resources and far more comfort than anyone else in the world. So, our roots do not have to go down deep. We expect quick relief from our trials instead of long, slow, difficult, and at times dry perseverance. We quote James 1 but do we really count it all joy when we face trials? I ponder these things because I weep and complain like the rest. I get scorched and wilt. I fall prey to the disease of self-pity, the cankers of fear and anger, the borer of bitterness. Oh, how I want to have faith like Wilda and Arthur Matthews - deep rooted, vibrant, verdant faith. When the drought of extreme hardship and suffering came, they did not wilt, but shone out for the Chinese church like refreshing green leaves in drought time. That is how I want to be.

No comments: