“Good deeds have echoes.” —Amish proverb
Have you ever been thirsty? I don’t mean the kind of thirsty you might feel on a hot summer day. I mean the thirsty where you can’t stop thinking about getting to a glass of water. Your lips are cracked, your tongue is dry, you feel faint.
So imagine yourself experiencing that kind of thirsty . . . and offering water to someone even more desperately thirsty than yourself.
Could you do it? To be honest, I’m not sure I could . . . but Anna König, a better person than I, did just that in my novel Anna’s Crossing.
It’s a story about the first Amish who came to America on the Charming Nancy ship in 1737. As was customary on the open seas, the sailors and the passengers relied on rain water to refresh their water supply. But in Anna’s Crossing, the rain didn’t come. Day after day, week after week. The water supply was running low.
What did come along was a slave ship, requesting water. The captain of the Charming Nancy refused to share his ship’s water. It was a harsh but not unreasonable decision: It was the captain’s responsibility to ensure his crew would arrive safely in the New World with as many passengers as possible—though fare would have to be paid whether a passenger survived the journey or not. But Anna and her people insisted on sharing half of their water with the slave ship. They trusted God to provide for their needs . . . yet still the rain did not fall.
Even as I wrote the story, I wondered if I could give up my water for a suffering soul and continue to trust in God’s providence when there was no relief in sight. In other words, can my beliefs stand up under pressure?
I live in California, a state that is heading into Year Four of a serious drought. With every passing year, I’m trying to train my family to change behavior, to adjust the way we think about water. It’s not a renewable resource but a precious, limited valuable commodity. Lawns have gone brown. I keep buckets in the shower to catch excess water. I save water in the kitchen sink and dump it outside on the plants. Every drop feels precious.
It occurred to me that I should be doing the same kind of training to build spiritual endurance. After all, there are all kinds of droughts in our life: times of waiting, seasons of suffering, periods of silence from God.
So, how do you build spiritual muscles? Through exercise: daily study of God’s Word, regular church attendance, seeking God’s glory in creation every day, enriching your prayer life. These priorities result in spiritual strength and vitality and build endurance for the droughts in your life.
The Bible says that those who place their trust in God are like “trees planted by the waters. Even in drought they will not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). My character Anna made a choice to share water and to trust in God’s providence. Her choice bore remarkable fruit on that ship. Yes, yes, I know! Her story was a work of fiction. But I hope my choices will do the same.
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Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. The Search won a 2012 Carol Award. The Waiting was a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. The Choice was a finalist for a 2011 Carol Award. The Letters is a finalist for a Christian Retailing 2014 Best Award. Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World and Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She travels back east a couple of times each year for research.
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