Every August in Egypt, the national holiday of Wafaa an Nil rolls around. Literally meaning “fidelity of the Nile,” this two week, mostly secular holiday is filled with music, boat races on the Nile, and to no surprise, great food. There’s good reason for the date of the holiday. For thousands of years, August 15 or thereabouts marks the conclusion of the yearly African monsoon season, in which enormous rainfall upon the continent’s central highlands carry vast quantitates of mineral-rich silt downstream into the land of Egypt. Every August the nation could count on the regular floods that fed the crops, which cultivated a civilization and, in time, an empire that spanned millennia. As long as Egypt exists, she can depend upon her Nile’s regular floods to support her.
It was this dependence upon the Nile that once supported the immigrant shepherds on the borderlands in Goshen. Driven into Egypt in the first place by a famine, this people survived and for a time even thrived on the empire’s surplus granaries; granaries filled by the Nile’s regular annual floods. Fast-forwarding four hundred Augusts later, the shepherds-turned-slaves were then freed by their God (in part by His attack and shaming of the Nile River) and carried into a new land of opportunity. But this land for this new nation was entirely unique, as their leader Moses informed them:
For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)
Instead of the regular, rain-silt-crops “we can go to the store anytime we want” cycle, Israel was to be dependent upon daily sustenance from God Himself. The nation couldn’t set its calendar anymore for a regular abundance because it couldn’t depend upon an annual flood. Now Israel had to trust in the downpours from the Lord. In other words, the flood insurance was gone.
You Get the Rain
I wonder if you’ve ever thought about that in comparison to yourself. As you strive in your office, at your desk, in conversations with others, on the days of insecurity and confusion or those of confidence and faith, can you relate? In the quiet struggles alone in the mornings, or the busyness of Sundays – have you considered how much you are like those slaves turned settlers? Have you thought how uniquely dependent you are upon the Lord?
Still in the analogy, consider also that for the most part we serve people who depend upon regular floods. In fact, God’s efforts in and through us often help to provide those floods on many occasions. Every Sunday or maybe Wednesday evening they gather, roll up their pants and count on the high tide to flow to them through you. In fact, they have grown so accustomed to these regular high waters, that many take it for granted that the water will always be there. To be sure, there are those lean days when the flood isn’t as high as they wanted, but then there are days of abundance, as they reap the harvest of God’s grace to them, through you.
They get the floodwaters through your efforts, but who or what, floods your fields, dear pastor? Granted, it may be possible for you to follow a friend or a hero on a weekly basis; to dial into their teaching and roll up your pants. Occasionally, those gatherings or conferences can rise the water as well. It may be possible to do this, but I’m willing to bet it doesn’t happen a lot. We just don’t have that luxury of abundant time. So, what does nourish your soul? The answer you just said to yourself, was “The Word of God,” or a synonym of it. This is a great answer, but then again you are a pastor, so I’m not surprised you got it.
Yes, God’s voice through His Word is what waters the soul. And yes, this is a gift given to all of us in Christ. Direct revelation from God through His Word, given by God to each of His children, from the pastor, to the professor, to the pizza delivery guy. But you, pastor, live in the land of hills and valleys, a land that drinks its water from heaven. You don’t have the luxury of the flood insurance in this land you live in, and so you look up and beg for the rain to wash down from you to give your people the regular flood they need.
Pastor, the Lord has given you the greater source of water. It’s the one that keeps you needy, keeps you thirsty, keeps you looking up, keeps you abiding. Your source prompts you to recognize that apart from Him, you can do nothing. You live in the reality of daily, sometimes hourly, dependence upon the Lord. Every morning when you sit down, open your Bible and lift your heart, you call for that rain. For you, He has appointed not to send the floods from afar. No, for you, He drops it right on your head. It’s just one of His ways of keeping you near Him, and it’s His great grace and kindness to love you like this.