My Contemplative Heart: Rain
The following was written in the late summer of 2008.
Rain. Who could really complain about all the rain when last summer we were desperately catching any drop that fell? I have to admit that in spite of last summer’s drought, I am beginning to tire of rainy days. It was just such a rainy day when I was attempting to load all three of my children back into their car seats after school when the bottom dropped out of the sky. I got soaked as I fastened little seatbelts.
My mood was less than cheery when I climbed into the driver’s seat as quickly as possible. I started the car to the usual requests for favorite children’s CDs. I refused in my grumpiness and insisted on listening to the radio station of my choice. The rain pounded us and the streets were rivers of rushing water. I turned the radio up to help me calm down. The DJ said something about a tranquil song and I looked forward to his voice ceasing to speak and the tranquility beginning. Did I mention that I was grumpy?
“Word of God, Speak” began to play. The music itself is very soothing and I was swept away with it, feeling some of my anxiety slip away. Lost in the swelling sounds, my middle child’s voice interrupted my concentration.
“Mommy! He said rain. It’s raining here too.”
He said rain? I missed it. I acknowledged her, with no conviction, but determined to pay attention to the words. Here is what I heard,
Could the word of God truly pour down like rain? Like sheets of rain that fall from the sky so fast that rivers and streams form in streets? Could God’s presence so overwhelm a place? Could the words of God wash me?
I was overwhelmed. My VBS answer was that certainly God could do such a thing. But my experience denies it. I have never felt washed over in the words of God like that rain was falling. I have never swum through God’s revelation. In fact, I feel pretty dry most of the time.
Why? Are the writers of these words just making a pretty song? Has God failed? Or do I just expect so little of Him?
Most of the time, I expect God to be more like humidity. You just endure it because you have to. It leaves you feeling sticky and as if you need a shower. God can just be absorbed.
Just a few short days later it had been raining again and I had the rare opportunity to spend time with just one of my kids. My middle one and I went to the library determined to stock up on enough good books and movies to keep us entertained on a rainy day. As I unloaded her from the car, she asked if we could splash in the puddles. Why not? We were both wearing flip-flops and our feet would dry quickly. We splashed all the way to the doors. By the time we arrived at the entrance of the library we were soaked up to our knees and laughing hysterically!
We carefully chose our books and movies and placed them in a plastic sack. As we walked to the doors, I realized that it was pouring. Great. We were gonna get soaked because I had not brought in an umbrella.
“Mommy! Let’s dance in the rain!” my daughter yelled excitedly, in the library entrance.
Really? I confess that I didn’t want to but we were having such a good time together that day that I agreed. I got another plastic sack to cover the top of our book sack and out we went. We twirled and splashed. We jumped and laughed. We sang rain songs. We even ended up barefoot for a while.
My daughter never once worried that her makeup would run (she doesn’t wear any) or that her hair would look funny wet. It never crossed her mind to be concerned that her clothes would get dirty or that she would be cold on the car ride home. She just danced. And sang. And played.
As I reflect on these moments, I realize that I shy away from God’s pouring presence because I am afraid of what the consequences will be. I don’t want to have my makeup run in front of others. I don’t want muddy feet to track up the floor. I don’t want to be uncomfortably wet and cold.
I don’t trust the pouring out of God’s word. I keep it away from me. I stand inside and watch it rain. I feel the humidity but I won’t jump in the water. I stop the pouring out by protecting myself from it. Any mist I feel sends me running indoors; I protect myself in the busyness of my life from feeling that rain.
What would happen if I had the courage to step out and splash in the outpouring of God’s word? Scripture promises us that all of creation sings of his presence. His word is pouring down. Will we stay indoors or will we dance in response?
This photo was taken by the amazing talents of Sweet Pea photography in our backyard the summer of 2008. The photos taken that day remain my all time favorites; capturing my children in their innocence at joyful play.