Those of you who read this blog often will know, if you are not actually experiencing it for yourselves, that South Africa is in the grip of drought. This is sad enough for those of us who have gardens to keep going but devastating for those living in areas where there is no longer water available even to drink. One morning, earlier this month, I drew back my curtains in my bedroom before sunrise and was delighted to be greeted by a smattering of clouds!
As part of my devotions that morning I wrote the following:
This morning there was a pink sky. How long ago was it that I saw the clouds tinged pink, here in Africa?”
I checked the weather forecast on my tablet – clear skies, no rain – and as I watched the sun rise and the blush of pink fade, I prayed for rain. It is almost a year since we have had decent rains. We are living with water restrictions – no cleaning cars or washing driveways with hosepipes; penalty costs, increased prices, if homes use more than an allotted number of kilolitres; no irrigation systems, and only hand-held hose-pipes during the hours of 6pm and 6am.
So I stand in the dark, from time to time, trying to keep my precious plants alive. I am not a good gardener, but I do love my tiny garden and so this half an hour or so twice a week is a small price to pay for keeping at least some of the plants growing.
When I first moved in the garden was full of spring flowers – poppies, cornflowers, and others that I have loved since childhood. But gradually these have not survived the dry years and I have replaced them with hardier, more drought resistant plants that will survive the dry conditions. The garden is changing from an English sanctuary to an African retreat.
Later in the day, the clouds, in spite of their promise of rain, disappeared in wisps of vapour and the sky is now clear blue again. It is beautiful, but it is not what I prayed for. Burchell’s coucal calls. He is known locally as the rain bird. There is hope – yet I know the rain bird. Sometimes he does not tell the truth and he raises our hopes only to have them dashed by the heat back into the dust.
So we wait. One day it will rain. One day the authorities will no longer have to ship water into the dry areas and the crops will grow again. One day we will not have to carry bottles of water to outlying villages as we drive through for they will have their own supply.
We wait. And we pray. Today I invite you to join us in our prayers. Please pray to our Creator God, who gave Elijah rain when he asked for it; who calmed the storm when the disciples were afraid, who commands snow to fall on the earth and sends torrents of drenching rain (Job 37:6); who controls the weather. Please pray to Him to send us rain.
Our people and our animals are thirsty. Our crops are not growing. Dust blows in the wind. Sun bakes down.
Lord God, send us rain … Thank you, my friends for joining us in prayer. God bless you.