By Leonard Lauriault
When I was in high school, our neighbors across the road built a new house and drilled a new well. Before the construction began, the sight of them in the yard trying to find water with a small tree limb caused me to laugh.
To set me straight, they put the limb in my hands and told me to follow it until it began bobbing up and down. The number of bobs would indicate about how many feet down the water table was. Still skeptical, I walked along the road edge as directed. As I walked, the limb eventually pointed to the left and came around against my cheek. So, I backed up, turned to the left and followed the limb until it started bobbing. It bobbed 20 times. That made a believer out of me; but, I’m still scratching my head about how that limb was able to measure in feet and count to 20.
About 10 years later, some coworkers were using pieces of metal coat hanger to look for a water line before digging. I tried that dowsing technique and it also worked for the purpose for which it was being used, but we had to guess how deep the water line was, or dig to find it.
I still don’t know how these things work, but they do. The limb had to be held a certain way and may have had to be from a certain kind of tree (those details I don’t remember), but the coat hangers were easy to use (ah, the conveniences of modern technology) and I’ve used them a time or two since then. So, what can we learn from this regarding our Christian lives?
First, despite my lack of faith, I could find water when I followed the directions. God’s power is like that; just because we don’t understand how things work doesn’t mean that they don’t work and we certainly shouldn’t scoff at what we don’t understand (Isaiah 55: 6-11; Mark 9:24).
We just need to do what we’re told in God’s word, generally the New Testament, based on the simple meaning of the passage (Hebrews 1: 1-3; 2 Timothy 3: 14-17; Ephesians 3: 1-5).
Having done that, allowing the Bible to interpret itself by comparing many passages on a topic, we’ll gain an understanding of why God said to do some things that seem ridiculous or outdated (Philippians 2: 12, 13; 3: 15, 16; 2 Timothy 2: 15).
We should have an attitude like Naaman’s servants – if God told us to do some great thing to be saved, we’d gladly do it. So, why not do the simple, ridiculous sounding things as well (2 Kings 5: 1-19; Hebrews 5: 7-9; Mark 16: 16; 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25). Otherwise, we show that we don’t love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11).
Second, while the stick and the coat hangers were valuable for finding the water, they could only point to the water and couldn’t move there, or drag me there on their own.
The stick made a believer out of me that dowsing works but that belief was useless to find water unless I followed the stick, acting on the belief. We can’t please God without faith, but to become Christians, we must act on our faith, becoming obedient to what God says to do in his word (Hebrews 11: 6; James 2: 17-26; Acts 26: 19, 20; 6: 7).
Third, it didn’t matter what technology I used, both of them pointed to water. In changing times and different cultures, we may need to use different techniques to lead people to Christ; but, the pathway to Christ always leads through water, even in the desert (1 Corinthians 9: 19-23; Acts 8: 26-39; 2: 38, 39).
While the word “dowsing” means to look for a water source or minerals, the definition of another word, “dousing” (also occasionally spelled “dowsing”), includes to plunge into water.
The Bible word for that is baptism, in which we participate in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, arising to a new life guided by God’s indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 6: 3-8).
As has been shown in scriptures already cited in this article (be sure to read them all), baptism is commanded to all who believe in Christ and want to go to heaven (see also Galatians 5: 24; 2: 20, 21; Romans 8: 9-17; Acts 18: 24-19: 5; Ephesians 1: 13, 14).
Have you taken the plunge for the reasons God gives in his word – to be forgiven of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit? If not, what are you waiting for (Acts 22: 16)? God says to do it, it works, and I can help you do it because it’s simple (461-4421).
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ