Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 24 - August/September 2008 > When Your Brook Runs Dry

When Your Brook Runs Dry

by Margaret Southon

When Your Brook Runs Dry - The Providences of God

I am qualified to speak with you this morning, not because I am the daughter of missionary parents or because I am the wife of a minister, counsellor and nurse, or that I have 3 beautiful grown up kids and 6 gorgeous grandkids -  that's a part of what I am but it is not who I am.  I am qualified to speak to you today, not because I have expertise of any sort or a degree in public speaking, (although at this present moment I dearly wished I did!).

I am qualified, dear people, because I am flawed, (blemished, broken, chipped, cracked, damaged, defective, faulty, imperfect) I am a sinner saved by grace, nothing more, and nothing less.  And it is through our personal mess that God gives us a message.

1 Kings 17 tells us a very gripping story of how Elijah presented himself before King Ahab and declared God's message that there would be no more rain for the next few years until God gave the word.

You know, I can still hear my dad reading that story to us in family worship when we were kids. As he read the words that God gave Elijah, my spine tingled - "As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives, - the God whom I worship and serve- there will be neither dew nor rain during the next few years, unless I give the word".

God knew Elijah was then in immediate danger and as usual He had provided a way of escape for Elijah. He instructed him to go hide by the brook Cherith and drink of its water and eat the food that the ravens brought him. God even ordered the way of the birds to provide for Elijah's daily needs! How cool is that!

Can you just imagine Elijah? Here he is by the brook Cherith, plenty of water to drink, food provided by the birds. Life was pretty cruisy for him. I guess his only responsibility would have been to build himself a shelter and amuse himself all day, day after day after day.

However, as the days passed by, I would believe that Elijah, being the godly man that he was, began to seek the face of God and commune with him, and listen for his next set of instructions.

One day, the brook ran dry.

I believe that for most of us, at some time or other in our lives, we will go through an experience when our own brook runs dry. Suddenly, life takes on a very different meaning. The laughter and fun dry up and life becomes deadly serious. It is not a good place to be, believe me. BUT, God through His love and mercy seizes the opportunity in these experiences for one reason alone - to draw his precious children closer to Him so that we can experience a depth of relationship far above our expectations.

I had such an experience back in 1997. Our family decided to go for a trip across the Simpson Desert with Ray's brother who had done the trip before. We packed up and headed off with all our supplies for an exciting trip.

I might say that I was not excited. In fact, I was scared stiff. I had thought long and hard about going on this trip. Being the scaredy cat that I am, with very little adventure in my bones, I was not sure that it would be good for me to go but after giving it a lot of thought, I realized this was an important family holiday, one that I needed to go on so I could join in the sharing of memories and experiences later down the track and be part of the story.

Ray's brother said he would take all the necessary tools and for us not to take any as we needed to conserve space. So we brought all the food and water supplies etc and off we set from Birdsville on our exciting adventure.

We read that we had 1,100 sand dunes to cross. After spending 3 hours trying to cross over "Big Red" as it is affectionately called - the first sand dune, my heart began to beat a bit faster as I realized we were already committed to the trip and it was going to be a very long one.

The first morning after we started out, we realized that Ray's brother's satellite phone had broken due to the rough track and we had no contact with the outside world. Now that made my heart beat even faster and I began to regret my decision about going on the trip.

The next day we got a flat tyre and guess what? Ray's brother had forgotten to bring the tools. Now we had a problem - a big one. All I wanted to do at this point was "to get the heck out of there". I was terrified, I was crying out to God continually asking Him to protect and care for us but, through my fear, I wasn't listening to the promises He was putting in my heart that he would never leave or forsake us. I remember lying down under the stars that night and saw a plane go overhead, miles up in the sky. All I wanted to do was to scream at the pilot to throw down a rope and rescue me. The plane droned on and was soon out of sight. I felt abandoned and alone and extremely frightened.

Deep fear is a terrible emotion that I am sure most of us has experienced at some time or other in our lives.

You know the desert is a very hot and isolating place. Just seeing the dryness makes you thirsty and the thought that you are a long way from human contact is, for some people, very isolating and fearful. We didn't see another car for 4 days. We averaged 9 hours of driving per day but only travelled approx. 90 km per day due to getting bogged, and the rough terrain.

On Day 4, I was totally beside myself. I was trying very hard to suffer in silence. I couldn't work out why everyone else was enjoying themselves, yet I was experiencing such fear. Even sweet Ray was his chirpy self and totally unaware and inattentive to my need for his loving care and attention!

We were passing all these large, parched camel bones along the way and all I could imagine was our rusty car bogged in the middle of the desert and our parched bones nearby, joining the fate of camels gone before us. In desperation I cried out to God with a blubbering prayer for His care and in response, I received an almost audible order - "Today you will praise my name". It was like a jolt of lightning to me. It shook me back into reality. All I had been doing for days was focusing on my fear and terror and not leaning on God or claiming his promises. I had been displeasing God with my faithless prayers. My brook had indeed run dry.

I started to change my attitude. I began to thank God for every little thing I could think of. Immediately, my fear started to subside. About 5 minutes later, we passed an orange pole by the track. I thought, "Someone has been here before us. We must be on the right track now." Every half hour or so, we passed another orange pole. They were my life line and I praised God for each one that we passed. I became braver and praised God for His amazing blessings in every aspect of my life.

All of a sudden, as we rounded a very difficult corner, the track giving way to a large chasm in the middle of it, and my, fears surfacing again, we opened out onto a large plain where there was a great lake of water. Purnie Bore it was called. It was like reaching the Promised Land. I almost wept for joy. There was life - birds, camels, dingoes all lapping at the edge of the hot spring. Thank God, we are safe, is all that I could think of.

That experience had a profound influence on me and taught me some deep spiritual truths.

In our Christian journey, it is important for us to learn the value of the hidden side of life. The person who is to serve God in a large way needs first to assume a low place before His God. God occasionally says to us, "Dear child, you have had enough of this hurried pace, excitement and publicity. Now I want you to go and hide yourself - hide by the brook Cherith of sickness or sorrow or some place of total solitude, from which the crowds have turned away."

Happy is that person who can reply to God as David did, "Your will is also mine. I run to hide myself in You. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings" (Psalm 61:4)

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