“Babicku, proc budeme kvetina dat voda?” I asked my beloved live-in grandmother Frantiska, who took care of me while my parents worked. As a four year old, I followed her everywhere like a little shadow and tried to do whatever she did.
When the sun went down after a hot summer day, Grandmother would get her large tin watering can out of the garage, fill it with water from the outdoor faucet, and water the flowers she had planted against the side of the little brick home where I lived with my parents and Grandmother.
Since her watering can was too big for me to lift, she asked my Daddy, her son, to buy me a little red watering can so I could help her. Sometimes we did it barefoot which was fun because I could water my toes too.
“Why do we water the flowers, Grandmother?” (Translation of the above)
“See how the little flowers droop their heads?” she explained. “Maji zizen (they are thirsty) from being in the teplo slunce (hot sun) all day. God wants us to give them a cool drink and help them lift their heads and smile again.”
Grandmother had taught me early about God and how to say the “Otce Nas” (Our Father, the Lord's prayer) in the Czech language. When she came by boat from Europe, she claimed that she was too old to learn English (actually she was only fifty-something). So until I went to kindergarten, my first language was also Czech, although we lived in the heartland of Iowa.
“Why doesn't God water them Himself, if He wants them to grow?” A child's reasoning. I had already understood that prset (rain) came from God.
“Pan Buh (Lord God) needs people to help Him. Some people plant seeds, some water, some gather the harvest. We all have jobs to do.”
I learned a lot of my theology snuggled in her lap, wrapped in her apron while we sometimes watched a friendly cloudburst of rain from the safety of our back porch. What a precious comfort was Grandmother's ample apron when noisy thunder boomers and lightning accompanied the rain. She constantly wore aprons over her long dresses in the tradition of “The Old Country,” as the immigrants used to refer to whatever homeland they came from.
In my mature years I don't have much success with either outdoor or indoor plants. I leave gardening to other gifted hands in my family, those who have green thumbs. My thumbs are gifted otherwise—on the space bar of my computer keyboard writing books and blogs. If I am given plants on special occasions, I feel obligated not to let them die of dehydration. However, time flies by for me especially if I am absorbed in a writing project. I can't seem to remember to water plants unless I'm reminded by a little label like the one attached to a more exotic plant I was given on my birthday last year—“Give me 6 ice cubes once a week.” I do that every Saturday so I won't forget. I have a few sensitive plants that not only droop their heads but come close to wilting and dying unless I am diligent in watering frequently.
Yes, Grandmother, God wants us to be His helpers. He is counting on us to “water” His people whose heads are bowed down, whose knees are weak, whose hands hang down spiritually, if not literally, those who are disheartened. (Hebrews 12:12) “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble.” It might be more glamorous to plant seeds, to evangelize, and more exciting and showy to close the deal, so to speak, by reaping the harvest. But sandwiched in between is the less conspicuous but indispensable, life-sustaining gift of “watering,” of encouragement, affirmation, boosting of spirits, comfort, consolation and prayerful support of not only God's children but the not-yet-come-to-faith precious ones.
It doesn't matter what kind of a watering can we are—or what size—what color—or how much Living Water we can dispense. God has planted each of us where we can encounter thirsty souls whom we can “hydrate” by coming to their aid in times of their aridity. We can point them to the Oasis of our God where His deep Well never dries up and the Water is always refreshing. “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost (Isaiah 55:1)
I may not have a whole rain barrel of water to share, but I can at least share the Living Water I do have as Jesus taught us. "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42) The “little ones” in my sphere of influence or yours may not be “little” in the literal sense
but in need of God's “hydration” whoever they are and
wherever they thirst in their lives.
Let's "water" them and help them
hold their heads up again and smile.
hold their heads up again and smile.