My grandparents lived in the Ozarks, where the soil wasn’t very good, and rocks were strewn around the fields. Grandpa would tell us, though, “Don’t worry - those just help the plants grow stronger when the roots twist down through the rocks.” Among the kinds of ground illustrated in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-8), rocky soil has problems growing things because it’s hard to retain moisture.
Several months ago, we started hearing prayers for rain. Other than a couple of brief showers, we in southwest Kansas are still waiting. But until that happens, I’ve decided to concentrate on a more enduring kind of downpour.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his listeners, “‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness’” (Matthew 5:43-45). We’re all familiar with that last phrase, but in the context of the passage we are to share blessings with everyone. In this way, we can, “‘…be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’” (Matthew 5:48).
When Abraham received the promise to become father of a great nation, God told him, “‘I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing’” (Genesis 12:2). Sometimes as believers, we start thinking anything good that happens is a result of God rewarding us. But instead we should focus on resources, abilities, our family and home, as blessings to share with others who need what we have.
In the Bible, the terms for water, wind and fire are often synonymous with the Spirit. At the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus addressed the crowd: “‘Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified’” (John 7:37-39).
The invitation is to move from a dry religious experience into one in which the Spirit guides, directs, and changes our lives. Walking on the path with a Friend that close makes each day meaningful.
Blessings showered on us are more than raindrops – they’re spiritual, and they’re eternal. It’s okay to have full barns and growing bank balances, but God wants to fill our lives to overflowing with better blessings.
We live in a barren land. A sad commentary on our country is that in Christian churches, the rate of drug addiction, teen pregnancy and divorce is nearly the same as in any other group. Before rain falls, or we accept showers of spiritual blessings, there’s preparation needed for the soil – and the soul. As a farmer turns over the dirt, we must “turn over” our lives to God’s control. He never forces anyone, but before receiving his promises, we need to be willing to yield to his “if’s”. “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit’” (Leviticus 26:3-4).
The Old Testament has lots of assurances from God: “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them… I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing’” (Ezekiel 34:25-26). “He will give the rain for your land in its season” (Deuteronomy 11:14). “‘Test me now, …if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’” (Malachi 3:10). “‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants’” (Isaiah 44:3).
We’re still waiting for rain. But in the meantime, let’s prepare our souls, and ask for spiritual renewal. Then when the showers come, we can go out and splash with abandon in the puddles.