We are in the midst of a serious and devastating draught. We hear newsmen say: "We can't live without water; and our supply will last only three months." A draught (also spelled drought) is defined in the "Glossary of Meteorology" as a "period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently prolonged for the lack of water to cause serious hydrologic imbalance in the affected area." Much of Georgia and other states have experienced draught conditions for months.
We know the serious consequences of lack of rainfall for extended periods. Among these we see widespread damage to agricultural crops, forests, any plant growth. When streams and lakes run low on water, even non-agricultural areas panic, for the modern-day water supplies everywhere hark back to enough rainfall to replenish the loss of water. And water is necessary to so many processes: production of electricity, operation of factories- the list could go on.
We come, therefore, in serious times and areas of draught to call upon the Creator of water and rain to favor us with water from the skies. Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia called a public prayer meeting on the steps of the state capital. The meeting, held Tuesday, November 13, was introduced by the governor with these words: "We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm."
Time was when government leaders could call the people to prayer without fear of recrimination. Not so today in our "politically correct" environment. We can be scorching from warmer temperatures and extremely fearful from low water levels and lack of rain. Yet the cry goes up: "We cannot mix church and state."
Near the prayer vigil on November 13, a group of protesters raised signs and voices against a religious service at the state capitol, crying "nay" to Governor Perdue's gathering to invoke God's mercy to send rain.
I remembered incidents from my own childhood when we were in serious draught conditions- not as critical as now, but raising great concern in our agricultural community of Choestoe, Union County, Georgia.
We met at church on several occasions for the specific purpose of praying for rain. Some with faith as strong as the words uttered in the pleas, brought their umbrellas with them to the prayer meeting, expecting with sincere faith that God would hear and answer their prayers for rain.
For a farm well to go dry was a major calamity. In one of the long dry spells, we had no water coming from our well for our household needs. Some of the streams in our pasture where livestock drank were but a tiny trickle. My father knew that only a miracle could relieve our dry situation. I can remember the incident well, although I was but a young child. He first prayed that we would have water--that the well would be restored or that he could find a spring. Then he took a forked peach tree limb which country people called a "divining rod." Holding it in front of him in both hands, he went to a certain area of our farm and walked back and forth. I was a little child, following him through this strange ceremony. Some might ask, "Was this using black magic to help God answer the prayer for water?" At that time, using a divining rod was just a practice some people with "the gift" (as it was called) used to discover water at a place where a well was to be dug. In my father's case, he was looking for a spring in an area where water might be found.
The peach tree limb began to tremble in his hands. I can remember his excitement and my awe. He dug in the spot which the limb had indicated water might be found. And there, in a short while, a stream of water was bubbling up, its sparkling liquid like a radiant rainbow amidst the dry grass. We called it our "bubbling spring"- and there it was, a place for us to get clear, cold, water- an answer to prayer. My father dug out the spring, lined it with rocks, and built a springhouse a little below the place where the water bubbled up. And from that location we carried water to the house in buckets. At the spring, we had a place cool as a refrigerator, to store our crocks of milk and other food items that needed refrigeration prior to the days of electricity and refrigerators in our community.
Let's "pray up a storm." Well, maybe not hurricanes and tornadoes that wreak havoc in our land and pour inordinate amounts of water that become forces of destruction. But let's pray for gentle rain, days of it, so that streams can flow full again, reservoirs be replenished, and man will again have the gift of water.
Is it too much to ask that we pray for rain?
c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 15, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.