Earlier this summer, we had one week with quite a bit of rain. It wasn’t quite every day, but it rained most of them. Even the days it didn’t rain, the gloom and clouds suggested that it might at any moment.
Some days it sprinkled throughout the day, other days the heavens opened up with squalls of fat, warm drops.
One spring day in college, there was a monster thunderstorm and the sky seemed to turn itself inside out. There was rain and hail and thunder and lightning. On a whim, I ran out into the rain with the inside-out sky whipping around me and I sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” at the top of my lungs.
I don’t mind “comfortable” rain at all. To help outline that range, I dislike unbelievably warm rain and really cold rain. Rain can be uncomfortably warm and I find that unpleasant. And nobody likes really cold rain, the kind that feels like tiny bits of icy metal when it hits your skin.
Why does the general populous of driving adults lose their mind completely when it rains? And has anyone noticed that we all talk about how poor of a driver everyone else is?
During that week, local baseball games were postponed. Travel warnings were issued. I remember one night seeing something on the news warning homeless people about the impending storms and wondering how effective that message was at reaching their intended audience. At bedtime that night we prayed for people who might be stuck outside or have nowhere else to go.
A few of those days brought us flash flood warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings. Some of those nights brought thunder and lightning that scared the kids, and reminded me that there are powerful things over which I have no control.
When camping in a tent, you can’t touch the walls or ceiling of the tent when it’s raining. The water will soak through the fabric simply from the pressure of your finger, your sleeping bag, your duffle or a cooler.
Sometimes during the thunderstorms, I do get nervous for my reef tank. Losing power for any length of time for my little slice of the ocean usually doesn’t end well. At the end of the day, though, it’s a fish tank. While I enjoy it, there’s a lot more to my world than what’s in that little glass box.
Rainy days are peppered with conversations that you don’t have on other days. I hear things like “I hate when the weather’s this way.” Or “Now our plans are ruined.” Or “So much for today.” Or “(Insert the last negative thing you said/heard about a rainy day here.)”
A few months ago I was talking with a friend (Richard J Munn) about rain and as with our conversations, they are usually sprinkled with all sorts of things, not the least of which is scripture. We spoke of the verse in Matthew 5, “…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” We talked about how inverted that verse has become to us since its original delivery to a predominantly agricultural society that absolutely depended upon the rain for survival. What was necessary for life and understood as a blessing has become largely an inconvenience for us.
I would sooner make a fresh pot of coffee, crack a window and wrap up in a blanket with a long book than do just about anything else on a rainy day, including going to work.
My family went camping one spring at Cumberland Gap National Park. It rained the entire week we were there. One night the storms were so bad we were convinced upon waking up that the entire tent had been turned around by the storm.
The 1st century olive farmer or vineyard farmer could watch rain come one day and see the result in the fruit over the next few. Over a season, the same farmer can easily identify what was planted and what was harvested. As the years passed, that farmer would know how much food had been grown and sold. That farmer would know which patches of soil did well and which did not. That farmer would be able to see life, to measure it even, and as such, know that a difference had been made over those years.
That farmer would know the value of a day of rain. That farmer would know that what brings life is essential. That farmer would know that growth needs rain.
In 10th grade, my earth science teacher, Mr. Gilbert, taught us there are three “kinds” of lightning. The one we usually think of is “cloud to ground” but it can go the opposite way, too, “ground to cloud.” There’s also “cloud to cloud” (more than one cloud) and “intra-cloud” (within the same cloud). These two are my favorite and the most beautiful in my opinion.
I love the sound of rain and often open the window during a rainy night. I’m convinced I sleep better.
I once read an article about a Yellowstone Park Ranger who had been struck by lightning nine times in his lifetime. He survived long enough to give that interview and I made the conscious decision to never hang out with him. My friend Tony said “Why not? I’d take him to Vegas.”
It’s not always easy to see life come from our efforts. I don’t mean in the cliché sense, either. The idea that “all ministry bears fruit” is absolutely true, but there’s a blessing in taking the farmer’s moment and acknowledging the life-giving process. We need to give ourselves space and see it. We need to step away from the processes and how they consume us to see that we are just like the soil. We are part of a process that neither starts nor ends with us.
We need the rain to keep us indoors and give us the bigger picture. We need the deluge to sweep away the monotony. We need the storms to remind us that we’re not as big or as powerful as we think we are. We need the crisp, clean smell in our nostrils and the warm sunlight on our backs as we get back to work bringing growth and life that reaches beyond ourselves.
More than anything, we need to know where the blessing comes from.