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The Urban Disease

            Having grown up in the city and suburbs, I have the congenital urban disease.    What is this urban disease?  It is a disease of ignorance that debilitates our spiritual life. 

            The chief symptom of the urban disease is to look at a cloudless sunny sky and exclaim, “What a beautiful day!”  Of course, such days are beautiful and even lift our spirits.  They are perfect for a walk in the park or a picnic. 

            I don’t want to deny this, but I will rain on our urban parade by misappropriating a couple of clichés.  Life is neither a walk in the park nor a picnic.  We don’t need sunshine all the time.  Another name for weeks on end of sunny days is “drought.”  We need rain. 

            The urban disease makes us think that water comes from the faucet and vegetables from the supermarket.  Water comes from snow and rain, and the rivers, lakes and even somewhat the aquifers depend on that precipitation.  Without rain we will lose the water that we need for drinking and the crops from which we get our food will die.

            I am fortunate to be married to a woman who not only is an avid gardener but also comes from a semiarid island in the Caribbean.  She appreciates the value of water.  For example, this morning I boiled some eggs for breakfast.  Instead of throwing out the water, she told me to keep it and she’d use it to water her plants.

            For our own sake and the sake of our environment we need to think more like my wife.  For example, Kansas, where we live, and seven other states, benefit from the Ogallala Aquifer.  It provides water for about 27% of the irrigated land in the United States and drinking water for 82% of the people who live within its boundary.  Unfortunately, we are using more of the aquifer’s water than is being recharged naturally.  Unless something changes, it will dry up one day, and then that precious gift will cease to flow from our faucets.

            Important as the environmental consequences of the urban disease are, they point to and are rooted in a spiritual disease.  The urban disease alienates us from God’s creation, causing us to lose our sense of dependence upon God and the gratitude that flows from that dependence.        

            Psalm 107 is a great hymn of thanks to God because it recognizes our dependence on his steadfast love.  “He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.  And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield.  By his blessing they multiply greatly; and he does not let their cattle decrease (vv. 35-37).”  The psalm concludes, “Whoever is wise, let him give heed to these things; let men consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

            Last night we were awakened by a thunderstorm.  It was our first rainfall in several days.  We gave thanks to God.  This morning there were clouds in the sky.  I hope that it rains.  Wouldn’t that make for a lovely day?

6 thoughts on “The Urban Disease

  1. Bill,

    What about donuts?!

    Anyway – I like this little article – because I LOVE a cloudy/rainy/stormy day. It feeds my need to be reflective, pensive, and even a little sad – artists feed off this stuff. But even more, it reminds me of the “alpha – omega” of God – the beginning and the end. It reminds me of not being able to fully celebrate Easter without experiencing the pain of Lent. It reminds me that God made everything in His creation to balance itself and everyday sunshine is boring, unnecessary, and not a reflection of Him who is new and different and yet the same everyday. That’s in the Bible …. somewhere…..

    1. Thanks, Ron. Your comment makes me think that we even need the emotional variety to which you refer–being reflective, being excited, etc. Lamentations 3:23 says that God’s mercies are new every morning. Hebrew 13:8 states that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Doughnuts? It might get boring if I had them every morning, but if I changed the flavor everyday, maybe it wouldn’t. I’ll have to do an experiment. We miss you guys.

  2. Bill- thanks so much, excellent reminder that without the rains and clouds God would probably not be at work in our world, or in our lives. I don’t want to live in a spiritual draught, I want the fresh filling of God in my life. It means I have to experience (even long for?) the dark days and dreary skies. Those just might be the elements God is using to refuel me.


    1. Thanks, Dave. You make an interesting analogy between weather and the spiritual life. Ron Arden’s comment related variety in weather to a healthy variation in our emotional life. That would be an interesting theme to follow up on.

  3. Hello again Bill,

    I count my blessings severally in a day, verily I thank God, through my Saviour Jesus Christ. When I awake in the morning, and look out of the window, all I see are wooded valleys and hills, green meadows, streams, beasts of the field grazing, I hear bird song, as there are no main roads for miles. In the distance I canst but see one dwelling house.
    It was not always this way.
    (Coming from a broken family, brought up by a single mother, and as a child I well remember always being insecure, moving from rented houses and caravans etc).
    I never, ever take this for granted, not for one moment. I care not whether it rains, shines, snows, or what the weather is like; God IS in control.
    I have a fast flowing stream in my garden, and try to grow as much veg as I can.
    A few weeks ago, many counties were under drought restrictions, hosepipe bans etc. Now we have floods! Today a months rainfall in a day!
    Your wife is an extremely resourceful woman, and I hope a great blessing to you.
    I think my wife would leave the tap running! (Faucet to you).
    I went to the Caribean once, I thought I was going to fry!

    God bless you both.


    O Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. Psalm 107.1.

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