Rain Barrels of Blessing

With hurricane/tropical storm Isaac on his way into the heart of the Midwest, I did what any normal Midwesterner would do. I prepared my house for rain. With the potential of 3-6 inches of rain and knowing I have a basement with a propensity to leak, I needed to work on our water system. Today, that meant converting some large 55 gallon plastic barrels into rain catching and distribution systems. This will hopefully send the water through a hose out into the yard and not into my basement. Tomorrow, that will mean climbing up on the roof and checking all the rain gutters. All of this in preparation for rain.

Rain is an interesting term in the Old Testament. As I've been reading through the Psalms, I've found it used for judgment (Psalm 11:6) and for blessing (Psalm 68, 72:6). In the flood it was used for great destruction, yet lack of rain is used as well to judge Israel for their sin. What about the torrential downpour of a hurricane? The gentle drops that signal the beginning of spring? God takes credit for all of this, no matter the result:

"Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man,  to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?"  Job 38:25-27 (ESV)

Another common theme that comes from the Psalms is the apparent success of the wicked while the righteous suffer, or at least don't prosper as well as the wicked. The outcry comes again and again  for the wicked to be judged and for the Lord to deliver (Psalms 10, 28, 37, 55, 73, 75, 82, etc.). Yet, the rain falls as either blessing or judgment on everyone regardless of their deeds (Matthew 5:45).

If my focus is purely on the temporal things of this world, then rain becomes a big discouragement. It might show me that God doesn't care about my plight in this world. "What's so special about being a Christian?" I may ask. Or, perhaps I might echo the Psalmist: "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?" (Psalm 82:2) If I am a part of God's People, redeemed by the blood of his own Son, then why can't it rain on my lawn and make it beautifully green and lush and just skip my neighbor who has rejected the idea of God in place of worshiping Mother Earth. If my focus was temporal, I would be in a sad state.

Thankfully, my focus isn't temporal. I, like Abraham, look forward to a city whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). This world isn't all there is. It is just a taste of what really matters, and sometimes a poor taste at that. As the rain falls on the just and the unjust this weekend, I need to remember that the eternal is what really matters. Sure, rain will make things grow around my home, and after the drought of this summer we could really use that. But, there is a better rain that I should focus on more, a rain that brings spiritual nourishment:

""For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV)

This will be my thought as the rains come down (and hopefully the floods don't come up). Praise God for His blessing of rain.


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