Living in the Central Valley of California, a.k.a., the San Joaquin Valley, which runs from Bakersfield to Sacramento, is the bread basket of the United States, if not the whole world. A drive along Interstate 5 or Highway 99 will amaze you with the vast acreage of produce and dairy that spreads out in all directions. In the area where I live almonds are king. Blue Diamond is just a few miles from my home. Walnuts are plentiful, and so are grapes for the several wine producers in this part of the Valley.
Farmers rely on a significant amount of rainfall during the cooler months of November through March. With the Sierra-Nevada Mountain Range running north and south alongside of the Valley, it is imperative that there is a substantial snowpack each year in order to have a steady supply of run-off for the reservoirs, rivers and canal system.
For a good number of years there has been an ongoing battle between the needs of the farmers for water rights and government intervention in how much water the farmers may use. Frequently the farmer is denied the amount of water needed for crops because the environmentalists have convinced those in government that salmon or some other critter might be in danger if the water is syphoned off to the farmers.
The Stanislaus River runs just behind my home, and at times I see the water level at maximum height. This often occurs in the middle of the summer when it’s very hot in the Valley, usually hitting 100+ for days on end. I’ve been told that the fish need this water. My question has been, “Since we’re running water from our dams in such volume, does someone in authority have a guarantee that we will have a significant amount of rainfall in the winter?”
So here’s the predicament. Last year, the winter of 2012-13, we had next to nothing in rainfall. This winter we have had the grand total of one day of rain. The water table is being depleted at a fearful rate. The snowpack is diminishing, and the river is running low.
I am not a meteorologist, so I have no idea what we can expect in the weeks ahead regarding rain, but the prognosticators of our weather patterns predict no signs of moisture coming our way anytime soon. I have a number of farmers in my church, and they are now quite concerned. The Annual Almond Blossom Festival in Ripon is held toward the end of February. It’s scads of fun and a great time is had by all. However, the lack of rain may affect the flowering of the almond blossoms, casting a damper over the festival.
Amidst all of this concern for rain here in the Valley, I see on the news that enormous rain and snow storms, accompanied by sub-zero weather, are slamming great portions of the United States. Odd!
Well, I don’t know what to make of all this peculiar weather business. This much I do know. God is in control of even the weather. It is my prayer that during a time like this that we as Americans will turn to the Lord and rely on him for what we need. In the book of 1 Kings we are told that the prophet Elijah was instrumental in helping bring an end to the drought that was devastating Israel and that entire region. There had been no rain for three years. As the man of God, Elijah was instructed by the Lord God to rid the nation of Israel of their sinful activities and their worship of false gods. In obedience, Elijah did as the Lord commanded. Once the sin that plagued the people was eradicated, God caused it to rain once again.
So, I guess the question could be asked, “Is God withholding rain from the Valley because of our sin? Are we neglecting to honor him with our lives? Have we forgotten the blessings of God?”