Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Worst Hard Time... Again?!

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A year or two ago I read The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.  It's the story of the Dust Bowl that swept America's High Plains during the Great Depression.  My grandmother and her family survived the Dust Bowl living in a dugout here in the panhandle of Texas.  People were tougher then.  A woman in our church lived through it with her family of 22 in a two-room house, if you could call it that, in New Mexico.  She doesn't remember it as being as "hard" of a time as Timothy Egan paints it.  But then sharing a room with 19 siblings wasn't "hard" according to her either!  (Actually, she says only 15 of the kids lived at home at the same time because of the age spread.  Oh- and the kids shared one room with one bed in it.)  Anyway, back to The Worst Hard Time.  Egan explains that the over-tilling of the Great Plains in combination with severe drought led to the Dust Bowl.  Before the plains were tilled up, they were covered with buffalo grass.  Burton Folsom Jr. in New Deal or Raw Deal blames the over-tilling of the plains on a cycle of increased farm efficiency which led to a surplus of wheat and falling global wheat prices followed by U.S. government (New Deal) propping up of wheat prices which encouraged further tilling.  This might have worked (though I'm opposed to the strategy in theory, preferring the government to stay out of the business of our food) had it not been for unprecedented years of drought across the plains.

So why am I bringing this up now?  Because we're in a drought again and the wind is blowing like crazy and when I look out my window, it looks like a dust bowl.  According to Egan, the High Plains never fully recovered from the Dust Bowl.  "The land came through the 1930's deeply scarred and forever changed." (The Worst Hard Time p. 309)  Farm subsidies begun during the New Deal continue to encourage the tilling.  "To keep agribusiness going, a vast infrastructure of pumps and pipes reaches deep into the Ogallala Aquifer, the nation's biggest source of underground freshwater, drawing the water down eight times faster than nature can refill it."  (p. 310)  This aquifer is a major source of water for us here in the Texas Panhandle.  Lake Meredith, our other source, is practically dry.  Yet farmers continue to till up land here where many rely upon primitive flood irrigation (cheap but costly in terms of water).  Our water supply is fast diminishing.  And it's not only the panhandle in Texas that's suffering.  Lake Travis in central Texas is also at its lowest level in years.

It wasn't always this way.  My dad remembers pools of water deep enough at their ranch when he was a little boy that you could dive into them from the cliffs above.  My husband was speaking to a 94 year old man on Sunday who told of the days he farmed cotton here- dry land (without irrigating).  He said those were the days when the farmer humbled himself before God and prayed for rain.  Those were the days everyone prayed for rain.  The days before all our groceries came from Walmart.  The days before much of our produce was imported from far away places like Mexico or Chile.  The days before Americans stayed holed up in their air-conditioned homes, except when driving in their air-conditioned cars.  Maybe we need to get back to those days.  Our little family has started praying for rain each morning during our devotional time.  It entails more than just a request.  It involves humbling ourselves before God and admitting our complete reliance upon Him and His mercies.  It requires repenting of our sins, as a nation, against God.  There, I said it.  I know it's unpopular, but God's Word is always true.

And it shall be if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.  And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.  Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.  Deuteronomy 11:13-17

Our country has a godly heritage and the Lord has blessed America.  Truly He has blessed us for the faith of our fathers.  We are now nominally Christian or post-Christian or secular humanist or whatever label you want to give what we are.  We have forgotten God.  We have deluded ourselves into thinking that we have made this nice life for ourselves.  God's Word warns us about that.

Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest- when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God... then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.'  Deuteronomy 8:11-14a, 18a  (emphasis mine)

And some people say the Bible isn't relevant!  This is exactly what's happened in our nation.  The colonists and Puritans and pioneers who built this country knew their very lives depended upon the grace of God.  They were in touch with the fragility of life.  Their lives were short and hard.  Our lives are easy and we have become soft and arrogant.  Let's humble ourselves, repent, and cry out to the Lord to bring revival in our land so He can bless our nation once more.  Let's get rid of our other gods (mainly self) and turn back to the Lord.  Let's pray for rain.

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.