We live in the desert. Deserts are typically hot and dry, at least part of the year. This year seems worse. Today is day 298 on the calendar. There have been 144 days in metro Phoenix that have been 100 degrees or more and 34 days at 110 degrees or more. That's almost 21 weeks over 100 and just over a month of that was over 110. Not only is it hot, but it is dry, bone dry. I am not telling you something you are not aware of. We need rain. Not a deluge but a nice gentle rain that lasts about three days and slowly soaks into the parched and cracked ground.
Christian recording artist Michael W Smith, who sang open the eyes of my heart Lord among other works, also wrote a song called Let It Rain. He uses Psalm 97. ”The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad. Let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” Open up your Bibles and read the whole thing. It is a beautiful psalm. Smith says we want to see your glory God! Let it rain, let it rain. Open the flood gates of heaven. Let it rain.
As I listened to this song on the way home yesterday, I started thinking about rain. It always smells good after it rains. I am sure there is a scientific explanation, but I just like the smell. Sometimes we are lucky and there is a rainbow, sign of God's everlasting covenant with us. Worms come up and the birds have a field day. Plants get washed clean and cars get dirty. Let it rain.
But there are many kinds of rain. Let it rain. Let rain down justice. Listen to the prophet Amos. “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24. Martin Luther King Jr. used this quote in his I Have A Dream speech. Every day in school as a kid we pledged allegiance to the flag. Many of you did too. Do you remember the end? With liberty and justice for all? We are still waiting for liberty and justice for all. Have you heard Micah 6:8? He reminds us...”He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Justice is a relational term meaning to make right. Justice is not revenge. It is treating all people as equal. We are all created in a God’s image, like it or not. We all deserve a chance, regardless of race color or creed. Let it rain...justice.
Let it rain. Let it rain confidence. We are a nation that is overwhelmed with fear. We are afraid of COVID. We are afraid of who might win the election. We are afraid we won't have enough money for the rent, meds, insurance...you fill in the blanks. We are afraid of the future and what it might look like. Sometimes it feels like we are afraid of our own shadow. But what if it rained confidence and we didn't fear everything? Listen to these words from Proverbs. ”In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have refuge.” Proverbs 14:26. Here’s the thing. We can be afraid until the day we die, but what joys will we have missed? God already knows how everything works out. He has gone before us. He holds today and every other day in his hand. We cannot do a thing about yesterday. It has gone. We cannot do a thing about tomorrow because it is not here yet. That leaves today and it is called the present. God has given us today...a day to shine His light, to be His hands and feet, to share the good news with someone who does not yet know. We have today to love and laugh. We might find sorrow or pain, sadness or challenge. But this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. We may fear the things of this world, but this world will pass away when the new heaven and earth come. It makes much more sense to fear the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Fear of the Lord means a sense of reverence, respect, awe AND submission. That is the part we do not want to hear. We are called to submit our wills to His, to live our lives as HE wants us to live, not as we want to live or as the world calls us to live. We are called to be different. We are called to fear the Lord. That means we can live in confidence and not fear. Let it rain...confidence.
Let it rain. Let it rain unity. Psalm 133:1-2 says, ”Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard of Aaron, running down the edge of his garments.” Old Testament priests were anointed with fragrant oil as a symbol of God's blessing on their holy office. This psalm pictures oil in large enough quantities that it flows from head to beard to garments. It is a pleasing aroma. That is what God smells when we work together. Do we look different? Yes, we do. Until you take off the outer layers. Then we look the same. Do we come from different backgrounds and traditions? Yes, we do. But where can we work to find common ground? When we do that, it is a pleasing aroma to God. Do we have different beliefs? Yes, we do. But what would happen if we shared our beliefs and looked for commonalities instead of simply dismissing someone because we do not believe exactly the same things? If we can do that, it is an aroma pleasing to God. Let it rain...unity.
The let it rain list could go on for pages. It isn't just physical rain. Our souls are parched and cracked too. Our spirits are tattered. Our faith tested in the heat of division. So, God...let it rain.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W