whitney nesse deep roots

A big event is happening in my corner of creation this morning. I could tell by the number of text messages I received within a short window of time and I’m guessing that if I would have walked outside, I would have heard celebratory shouts coming from a five mile radius. It rained! Not just a sprinkle either. It poured for a good amount of time — followed by a gentile rain which completely saturated the dry ground.

The rains this morning came unaccompanied. There was no hail, no strong wind, or any other threatening phenoms tagging along. It was simply a long-awaited, refreshing soak; and it came right on time.  

The area of central Minnesota in which I live has been very dry for the last few months. Many times we have optimistically watched rain systems on the radar come directly at us and fizzle at the last minute or take a southbound turn giving our neighbors a mere 10 miles away torrential rains containing enough moisture for an entire season.

With each passing dry day, we watched the leaves on the corn plants curl more and more, creating for themselves less leaf area exposed to the dry, stressful environment. The beautiful emerald color of the healthy corn plant turns to a silvery gray in an attempt to protect itself from the scorching sun.

Then, all at once, a timely, soaking rain falls. You can practically watch the leaves on the corn plants relax, uncurling, opening themselves up to receive the provided moisture. The color changes back to a deep, rich, emerald green. The plants no longer look as if they are isolating and keeping to themselves, but are again in communion across the shared land — stretching themselves out as if to say a word of thanks for the long-awaited relief from the dry spell. 

Dry seasons show those of us who depend on the land just how little control we have over outcomes. A steward of the land can put on endless amounts of fertilizer, have the best weed and pest control and map out field prescriptions for a bumper crop; but if the soil is lacking moisture, none of it matters. Even in the driest years, irrigation isn’t enough. The only real antidote to drought is a saturating rain. 

Not only do I realize how little control I have in dry seasons, but I am also made aware of the faultiness of my faith. I easily forget what God has already given me and I look only at what's lacking. In my hyperfocus on what’s lacking, I can question God’s faithfulness. My finite world barks with my own (and others') shortcomings and lack of faith to a point that I look to God and question His ability to remain faithful.   

I have felt much like these dry corn plants the last couple of months. My soul has felt parched.  I’ve been retracting and disengaging from those closest to me in a futile attempt to safeguard my fragile soul. I’ve used all of the topical applications for spiritual fullness like prayer, studying the Bible, attending church services and the like. I feel as though my faith is being tested. I wonder if God is capable of being who He has promised to be: faithful, a just judge, a wonderful counselor and sovereign over all. I’m finding that my faith is faulty and my soul is dry.

My pastor reminded me during a recent service that when I choose to be “faithful to God (even for a moment), He will be faithful to me for a lifetime.”  When I question God’s promises during dry seasons of my spiritual journey, but I choose — even momentarily — to be faithful to God, He is always faithful to pour out His promises and blessings on me.

I’ve been looking to the well-worn story of Noah and the Ark for encouragement lately.  God told Noah to build an ark because He was sending a flood. We aren’t told specifically in Genesis 6-8 how many years passed between the time God told Noah to build an ark and the start of the rain, but Bible scholars say it took somewhere between 70 and 75 years. Noah chose, in the moment that God asked something of him, to be faithful to God. Noah worked, waited and watched for the sky to open up and for God to fulfill His promise for 70 YEARS! 

I can only imagine that Noah had to, at some point, feel much like I am right now — dry and full of faulty faith. But God, in His perfect timing, sent the rains and flooded the earth just like He promised. If Noah hadn’t chosen to be faithful in that moment, the entire human race would have been lost.  

The rains came for Noah, the rains came to our farming community, and I am choosing to believe that rain will fall and quench my dry spirit too. I am choosing to continue to trust that God will fulfill every good and perfect promise that He has made in His perfect timing.

I am also going to head out and check the rain gauge.

Whitney Nesse is a sixth-generation livestock farmer who is deeply rooted in her faith and family. She writes from her central Minnesota farm.