Let It Rain

It has been bone dry here this spring. We’ve had a few snowstorms and a few thundershowers, but we’ve been missing that long, soaking rain that brings health to gardens and hope to farmers.

But it has finally happened. Buckets and buckets of rain coming down, filling every crack in the dry ground, welling up into spontaneous rivers and pooling into surprise lakes.

Sheets of rain blown sideways by the fierce wind.

I’m thankful it’s not snow.

But the parched ground needed this rain. Those with crops and gardens to tend needed this rain. The rest of us – we needed this rain too. We needed the green hills and growth that comes after a rainstorm.

This real-life example of the blessing of rain couldn’t have come at a better time. Earlier this week I was reading Isaiah 40:17-20 and it pierced my heart —

“The poor and needy search for water,
 but there is none;
 their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
 and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
 and the parched ground into springs.

I will put in the desert
 the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
 the fir and the cypress together,

so that people may see and know,
 may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
 that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Have you ever seen rain fall on dry land? The ground drinks the water up in an instant and within minutes it looks as if it the rain never fell in the first place. Imagine how much water it would take to make rivers flow on barren heights, springs grow in the valleys, pools of water fill the desert and turn the parched ground into springs? How much refreshing moisture it would take to make the wasteland teem with tall, strong, fragrant, wonderful life?

Only God can do this.

Only God can take our dry, brittle, dead hearts and flood them with the power of His Spirit, bringing new life where nothing else will grow.

Only God, the God who does not forsake, can answer the call of the spiritually thirsty, bringing refreshment that satisfies forever.

Someone needs to hear this today.

Someone needs to hear that God does not forsake us, even in the wasteland. He brings new life after the rain.

Only He can. Only He will.

raindrops on leaves

Raindrops on leaves

The Season is Changing

Anyone else stumbling around in a post-time change fog this week?

Yikes.

I read once that it takes three weeks to fully adjust to a new schedule, so hopefully by the end of the month we’ll be caught up on the sleep we’ve missed!

Give me all the daylight, though. Every day we’re getting closer to 10pm sunsets and 5am sunrises, and the twilight hours that fill the hours in between. We’ll be making up for the winter darkness.

I smelled mud the other day and I remembered spring. It took me by surprise. I was in a parking lot and the heavy, earthy scent drifted past, bringing with it a sudden swell of hope! Same with the sound of water trickling through the downspout as the snow melts off the roof.

Ordinary evidence that the season is changing, and with it, the things we spend our time and energy on.

It’s the Lenten season. I recently read a Lent devotional that seemed to pit personal times of worship against serving the least of these in our community, as if the former is selfish and the latter is spiritual. It seemed to say that reading our Bibles and spending time in prayer is meant to somehow impress God with our efforts to be holy, when our energies would be better spent serving those among us who are truly in need.

It broke my heart.

When we put our faith in Christ, the Bible teaches that we become Christ’s righteousness before God. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our vain efforts to impress, He sees Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So why should we view the Lenten season as some sort of exercise in spiritual pride, bent on giving us brownie points with God? If that’s what Lent is for you, I strongly recommend you rethink this season.

That last verse gets me every single time: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. When we understand exactly what Jesus did for us, we no longer see these seasons of examining our hearts and engaging in repentance and renewal as an effort to impress Him with how spiritual we are. We fall down in worship, fully surrendering our proud hearts and recognizing that there is no other Person who can bring us back in to a right relationship with a Holy Creator to whom we owe the very breath in our lungs.

I will say, though, that these times of worship must bring about lasting change in our hearts! And out of that change comes minds that are transformed by the truth of God’s Word, hearts that are open to the Holy Spirit, eyes that are searching for opportunities to put Christ’s love in action, and hands that are ready to serve Him by serving others.

I think the author of the Lent devotional is right in pointing out that inaction is a grave mistake that we would do well to pay attention to. But I am sad when I see worship and service pitted against each other.

In the weeks leading up to Easter I’ve begun to read the Gospels of Luke and John, once again re-living the life of Christ and praying that God will move in my heart through the story spread out on the pages. My heart has been stunned and amazed and encouraged by Jesus! And most often, I am finding that service of the least of these consists of pouring practical love on the very people that are right in front of me.

frozen bunny tracks

I found these frozen animal tracks one morning.

The Winter is Over.

The sound of melting is music to my ears, peppered with little boots splishing and splashing alongside stroller wheels on the sidewalk.

The first walk of Spring is underway. I can hear birds twittering and flittering from tree to tree, preparing for a long season of growth and change.

The winter is over. We breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, we know that more snowflakes will fall before summer arrives, but in the meantime, sun bathes our neighbourhood in warmth and beauty. Even the runoff, meandering down the middle of the road, is sparkling with life and hope.

“Look at the way this one curves back and forth,” I say, pointing to a small stream trickling down the sidewalk in front of us.

“Wow!” they shout, zigging and zagging through it, pants wet to the knees from all the joys of puddle-jumping.

One bends down and fishes three soggy pinecones out of the mud puddle, tossing them happily into the middle of the road. “Here ya go, squirrels!” she shouts. “Some food for you!”

Simple joys.

Thank you Jesus for the beauty of this moment.

tulips

White tulips growing in my living room!