Desert Storm


We’re camped in the shade of the coolibah trees on the bank of the Cullyamurra Waterhole, one of Australia’s biggest waterholes in outback South Australia. It’s late September. The weather is warming up but there is a cooling breeze. A few wispy clouds are scattered across the sky. Above, a pink galah feeds her young nestled in a hole in the coolibah whose shade I’m enjoying. A raven squawks a few metres away. Occasionally a kite hovers overhead looking for lunch. Turtleheads break the surface of the water gasping for air before submerging once again in their quest for food. Pelicans paddle by. Ducks descend by the hundreds before sensing danger or the lack of food and moving on. A cloud of zebra finches flitter between the trees on the far bank.

Our two boys paddle along the waterhole in search of adventure. The world is at peace, but it hasn’t always been like this.

When we arrived a couple of days ago, the temperature was approaching 40 degrees. The sky was covered by thin grey cloud. The moon shone through but there was a tension in the air. A desert storm was imminent.

At around midnight, the wind picked up with gusts of around 100 kilometres per hour. They continued well into the next day. The shelter of a well-pitched tent or lounging in the water’s edge were the only relief. Packing up and moving on was an option, but an impatient one and we’d have missed the best this place had to offer.

Late in the afternoon, the sky darkened. A lightning bolt flashed to the ground beyond the opposite bank, followed by a peel of thunder that brought the boys paddling furiously back to camp. For some time, large drops of scattered rain fell from the sky, but not enough to settle the dust. The wind then subsided, the temperature dropped significantly and a peaceful night settled on the waterhole. A new day eventually dawned, a peaceful day.

Life can be much like our experience beside the waterhole. It’s never all blue skies and cooling breezes. Challenges are thrown at us: health issues, work situations, relationship tension, financial upheaval. And we sometimes wonder why. Why me? Why my family? Why my friends?

The Bible puts a different twist on it: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

A loving God does not cause us trouble, but He allows it for a reason, even if we may not fully comprehend at times. The promise is that in the end, we won’t lack anything, even the Kingdom of God.

We enjoyed our camp beside the Cullyamurra Waterhole. The storm that built for hours only made us appreciate the days that followed. It was our little bit of heaven . . . for now.

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