By Michael Wren
“ He opened a rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a stream in the desert. For He remembered His holy promise to Abraham His servant. He brought His people out with rejoicing, His chosen ones with shouts of joy,” (Psalm 105:41-43).
As you may know, I have the opportunity to travel across the U. S. border to Tijuana with a group of pastors from Indiana. The Lilly foundation is sending us this impoverished place to learn about the needs of migrants along the border, the work that is going on among them, and how the church can minister to them. This trip will be a study in contrasts, and that lesson began on the plane ride to San Diego, from which we will cross the border today.
After changing planes in Phoenix, we flew over the desolate Arizona landscape. Nothing grew unless there was water nearby. Dry stream beds were obvious from above, where runoff would flow on the rare occasion that the desert received rain. Here, I saw green. Everywhere else was sand and rock—with the exception of a few farms that thrived because of irrigation. To the west were mountains. Clearly the mountains received rain, because a lake had collected at the base of it. Again, there was life. But once we crossed the mountain peaks toward Southern California, everything changed. The mountains and hills were covered with green. The transition was dramatic and abrupt. A remarkable contrast.
Today will bring more contrast. We spent the night in San Diego in a nice hotel right on the marina and are surrounded by yachts and million dollar homes. But we are crossing the border today where we will encounter severe poverty, families that have been deported and have nothing, and entire communities built on top of a garbage heap. We aren’t traveling very far—just across a border—but the difference between the “haves” and the “have nots” is stark. However, as the Psalmist reminds us, our God is a God who can make streams of water flow in the desert. He has done it before. In Him we find abundance, whether we experience it here in this world or not. Our blessings flow from Him, for without Him we have and can do nothing.
The prophet Jeremiah instructs us regarding the righteous in Israel, “He took up the case of the poor and needy, then it went well. Is this not what it means to know Me? This is the LORD’s declaration,” (Jeremiah 22:16). Being a disciple of Jesus entails more than receiving blessing. According to Jeremiah, it involves dispensing blessing as well. Sometimes we forget how great the need is until we witness the contrast.