The long dry season is about to end. Harvests, from the previous season, have all come in and if that planting time had produced little food because of scarcity of rain, villages and families were in dire straits because of lack and were going hungry. Any grain harvested that had been stored in outside bins (millet and maize) was almost finished and a few ears of maize still in its husk hung from a rack outside or from the rafters and poles of the African hut. Chickens scratched the ground looking for anything edible; village dogs, and even the cattle, were thin and emaciated. That African sun parched all the ground. Even water for daily needs had to be hauled long distances, from drying-up water sources, to meet the village thirst.
Clouds were beginning to gather; a hope of rains to come. Folks, either alone or in groups, descended upon the garden areas to hoe the weeds in anticipation of the coming digging time.
Thunder. Lightning. Wind.
Welcome relief. Now, those who went into the gardens began their digging in earnest. Often to the beat of the drums, the dirt on either side of the weeds was dug up and piled into ridges. The damp earth smelled good, dust was minimized because of the dampness. As the ridges were formed, others followed planting – precious maize kernels; millet seed – maybe tender sections of casava branches which would revive, grow and deep underground and produce edible roots. Those living near Lake Victoria may have put catfish heads underground into the mounds before they stuck in some sweet-potato (yam) vine shoots. Fishy fertilizer but not fishy potatoes!
Down in low-lying areas, wide, flatter sections were prepared for planting rice. Mounds of earth ringed those areas to hold water in. The heavy rains made these areas shallow ponds into which tender shoots of rice plants, which had been previously tended and had sprouted, were inserted into the earth under that water. As they grew, and as more rain fell, the ponds were opened up a bit to let some water out so that always the growing rice was showing above the water.
Now, let the next harvest season come. If the rains kept coming;
if the birds were kept away from the developing grain;
if the insects didn’t decimate the maize;
– this gave hopes of a good harvest. If the rains were too heavy and continued too long, the plantings died;
if the rains were short and scarce, things dried up and didn’t develop;
if the ravages of birds and insects were minimal;
– then the hope that was there at the planting was dashed. If so, then maybe there was time for a second planting (if the rain pattern allowed). Otherwise – another tough time, waiting for the next planting season!
BUT, we have hope and expectation which in not based on the vagaries of the weather. Our confidence is in our Lord, whose “blood and righteousness” – His atonement and resurrection – is the foundation of our confidence. Hope and expectation, based on changeable factors, gives no assurance.
BUT, in the words of Fanny Crosby, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. O what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood”.