#18 Lessons Learned From A Dry Lake
This week, I learned that one of our local lakes was drying up. Emigrant Lake is located on the outskirts of Ashland, Oregon. It was first created in 1924 and then expanded to its current size in 1960 to service the growing agricultural industry in the Rogue Valley. When the lake was finally filled it covered a rich history not known to many.
At the time the dam was built a historic crossroads – Klamath Junction - would be covered by the increasing water level. Klamath Junction sat at the intersection of the Green Springs Highway and Old Highway 99. It was at this junction that travelers could gas up and refresh themselves before and after crossing the Siskiyou Mountains. My parents would have traveled this now submerged roadway in the 1930’s and 40’s as they traveled up and down the west coast. In 1846 my relatives, who were part of the first Applegate Wagon Train into Oregon, would travel by ox cart across this very junction into the Rogue Valley where I now live. In 1846 there was no visible roadway only a barely discernible trail used by the early Hudson Bay trappers. Before the coming of these early Mountain Men, for millennia, First Nations people stopped at this junction to trade and communicate. This was a place of cultural significance.
The last time Emigrant Lake dried up was in 1994. This offered me a rare opportunity to go and explore the dry lakebed. When I parked my truck, I began to walk down the crumbing asphalt remnant of the “Old Road” as my father would call these old abandoned ribbons of asphalt that still parallel many of our modern highways.
My main purpose as I descended the dry lakebed was to pray. I wanted to pray at the exposed trail source that brought so much history into our valley. I could see the old foundations still visible that once supported the few buildings that were the old Klamath Junction community. Tires from 1920 era cars sat atop the mud along with old sparkplugs and other car parts. As I continued to explore the lake bottom I came across a fishing lure sitting all by itself atop the sand.
By instinct, I reached down to pick it up and as I held it in my hand the Lord spoke to me and said, “Fish follow the water”. Immediately, I knew what the Lord was saying. As I held the fishing lure in my hand and listened to the Lord’s words, I saw in the distance the last bit of water that remained of Emigrant Lake. It was only about an acre in size. If I was going to fish and hope to catch anything, it would be there.
I put the lure back on the sand and continued walking. God was processing a word for me, and a word for the larger Church. Things have changed. The core elements of our faith remain secure and intact, but the cultural application of our faith needs to be revisited or our lure will find itself sitting alone atop the dry sands of a changing culture. The people waiting to receive their God-destiny from the message we carry are swimming in different waters than they used to be. If we are going to catch these lives and become the fishers of men Jesus talked about, we can no longer fish in dry cultural lakebeds and expect to catch anything. We need to pick our lures up off the dry sand of old and expired methods and cast them into the fish-rich waters of our culture because fish follow the water.