Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rainy Days

Some of the hardest words in Scripture come from Matthew, chapter 5, as part of the Sermon on the Mount:

"You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

I was thinking about these words today, as we are seeing the first rain in over a month. I've often heard the phrase that God "sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" interpreted as though God makes bad things happen to both righteous and unrighteous people. 

However, that completely misses the sense of the passage. Jesus tells us here that God's common grace is extended to everyone--not one soul is left out. No matter how bad a person is, the sun will still rise for that very one the next day. No matter how wicked, rain will still fall. No matter how bad our enemy may be, we are still constrained to love that person. That is our calling.

Rain is a blessing, something to be welcomed.

However, in our culture of comfort and climate control and search for perfect living conditions, sometimes we see rain as a curse. After all, rain snarls traffic and spoils baseball games. Enough of it means many outdoor recreational activities have to be canceled and children are stuck inside for the day. Splashing rain dirties windows and soils freshly washed cars. It makes puddles and mud spots. Animals and children track dirt inside on muddy paws and shoes and we've got to find umbrellas and raincoats to go out.

One summer when I was living in Wichita Falls, we were enduring a long drought. Day after day, I'd hear the weather announcers cheerily declare another day of sunshine and frown at the possibilities of rain coming. I kept saying, "How did we get these so mixed up, that we'd rather crops die and rivers dry than miss a day of outside play?"

Rain is a blessing.

It gives life.

I've been doing some work in my garden recently. I had brought into the house a couple of ferns last fall, wanting them to live over the winter so I could replant them this spring.  Unfortunately, I pretty well forgot about them--I had placed them in a rarely used bedroom. I think I watered them only twice in four months. They dried up and certainly looked like goners.

I took out the dried root balls and soaked them in water, just in case. It seems like it took only a few minutes until I saw some green appearing from those dead-looking roots. They are now in the ground, soaking up the softly falling rain. Perhaps they will indeed give forth life again.

Rain is a blessing.

It gives life.  Just like Jesus.

We need more of both!


Angie Hammond said...

Thanks for reminding me that I need to do the same for all no matter who they are in my classroom.

As for the rain, we didn't get any here in Waco today. We need it badly and I am praying for it to come.

And yes your are right, God does make the sun shine and the rain for all not just a select few. His infinite Grace falls on all. The sad fact is, not all accept it.

So as I go forth this week, I will pray for God's blessing both for rain outside and peace inside my classroom.

Vicki Attaway said...

I live off of contrasts and the times of transition between one thought and another, one day and the next, a dry face and the drop of a tear. And rain and sunshine. All have God's signature, signed under each person's name.

It is meant for us to celebrate the chance for all people to receive blessings, and in contrast, to suffer things that might help them understand God's love. They are all blessings, really. The rain and the sunshine. It is all a matter of what they decide to reach for, how much of God and this world they are inclined to embrace.