The Rain in Spain

May 7, 2001

… fell mainly on the Costa del Sol this last week, so it seemed.

Romkje and I were being hosted by Garry and Anke Tissingh, our North Africa directors, in our annual meeting for the Europe, Middle East and North Africa field leadership, along with Lynn and Marty Green, and Mounir and Ruth Boctor.

So you will feel better knowing that we were not ‘suffering for Jesus’ in the sun down there!

Of course, for our fellow travellers on the flight to Malaga, the unseasonal rain was not such good news. They had come for a holiday in the ‘Sol’. Doubtless they felt a little cheated.

Unless, that is, they had read the same thought-provoking column in the in-flight magazine which had made me reflect gratefully on the wet stuff.

Our planet had been wrongly named, claimed the columnist, a science reporter for Germany’s Stern magazine. From the air, it was obvious that most of what we call Earth was actually covered in water – three quarters, in fact.

This was unique in the entire solar system. None of the other planets could boast a single drop of water. Scientists had only come across it elsewhere in steam or ice form. Earth was the only planet with temperatures favourable for the substance to be liquid.

“And it is only thanks to this tremendous stroke of luck that life came into being here, billions of years ago,” I read.

Luck indeed!

Water was such a very special juice, a simple chemical compound of two hydrogen atoms plus one oxygen atom, the writer explained. Simple, but with fantastic properties. It accumulated heat in the summer, and gave it off in the winter. Without water, our planet would alternate between blistering heat and searing cold. Hydrogen dioxide was also such an excellent solvent for practically all substances. And so ideal for the transport of nutrients in plant and animal. Now, isn’t that another stroke of luck?

“No one has a clear idea of how the earth came to its life-giving elixir, but one thing is for certain: it came from outer space,” the column went on. “The planet could have gathered it there as steam or ice when, 4.6 billion years ago, it was formed from cosmic dust. Some researchers propose that the water may have erupted from the bowels of the then still extremely hot globe as steam and then condensed. “Others, however, say that this could never, ever have worked: that the molecules would immediately have been reduced to their individual gassy elements and have dissipated. The skeptics favour other water bearers: comets – great balls of dust and ice which regularly cross the earth’s path. They could have bombarded our globe with ice which then melted to water on its surface.”

So, scientists don’t really know either.

I still like that ancient Source which doesn’t pretend to give a modern scientific explanation to the ‘how’ question, but does give answers to the ‘who’ and ‘why’ questions: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…”

Have you ever meditated on why water is one of the images of the Spirit in Scripture? Try to imagine a world without water.

As we heard reports of the church in some North African countries literally doubling over the last 18 months, we meditated on Isaiah 32: 14,15, which talks of the Spirit of God being poured upon us from on high, making the desert a fertile field.

So when we get bothered by unseasonal rains, or even floods, reflect on what an amazing gift of grace this substance is. Or as my columnist put it: “when you order your next mineral water, sip it in the knowledge that your drink is a unique cosmic delicacy.”

Till next week,

Jeff

Till next week,


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