The Eastern Erg is an infamous stretch of the Sahara Desert that has claimed its fair share of parched victims, both animal and human. The sweltering temperature can easily rise past 120° during the day so it’s definitely not a place to venture without plenty of water.
Just ask Lag Lag.
Lag Lag wasn’t exactly an interesting man, but the pious Muslim who lived in North Africa did have an interesting story to tell. During the summer of 1957, he and his assistant were hauling equipment from Biskra (in northeast Algeria) to the newly discovered oil site of Hassi Messaoud (in southeast Algeria). With Algeria being the largest country in Africa, the trek is not only long, but boring, as well.
Unless you choose to do it the way Lag Lag did.
Instead of driving around the sea of windblown sand known as the Eastern Erg, the two men decided to traverse it in order to save time. It’s not an impossible venture, but travelers taking this route must be expert drivers due to the soft, shifting sands, and precise navigators due to the amount of backtracking required. Unfortunately for Lag Lag, he and his assistant got turned around in the featureless landscape and drove around aimlessly for three days before running out of fuel, rendering themselves stranded on the burning mounds of desert sand.
They had a fair amount of water – about a two week supply – but the long term prospects of rescue looked bleak. Yes, the shipment would be late and thus missed, but who would think of looking for it in the desert?
Lag Lag and his unnamed partner were forced to live and sleep on the sand beneath the shade of the huge truck. They rationed their water, but day by day, they watched their supply dwindle until it was eventually exhausted. With the unrelenting rays of the scorching sun beating down on them, the two men did the only thing they could think of: they began drinking the water from the engine’s radiator.
Yep, they consciously ingested poison.
It’s amazing what people will drink when they are parched and thirsty, isn’t it?
In John 4:13-14, Jesus had a conversation with a woman who was searching for water to end her thirst. Jesus pointed her to Himself.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Fortunately for his assistant, Lag Lag had an idea that saved their lives just before their supply of rusty, toxic radiator water was totally depleted. He drained some of the engine’s oil and put it in the gas tanks, hoping to create a makeshift fuel. Sure enough, the engines rumbled to life and the two men resumed their adventure.
Ironically, they discovered they were just a few miles from a road, so they followed the tracks until the truck died for good. Fortunately for them, a van appeared in the distance. When they flagged down the driver, they found he was transporting fresh meat, vegetables, and of course, clean water.
In the deserts of life, what is your source of life-giving water?
Sahara Unveiled by William Langewiesche. Pantheon Books, 1996, Pages 51-54.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)