Maybe you sang the song as a child too: "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day." Growing up in the relatively dry central valley of California where rain wasn't part of the norm, I remember thinking of rain as a nuisance. Rain stopped play and redirected school recess to indoor activities that I really wasn't enthralled by. Heads-up 7-up anyone? Regardless of what farmers or firefighters might have said, in my limited perspective as a child, rain was an inconvenience. A recent, painful experience in my backyard, however, reminded me that rain is so much more vital than I use to give it credit for.
Since moving into our new construction home a year and a half ago, one of the things on our to-do list that hasn't been checked off yet is landscaping our barren backyard. It's amazing really what dirt can do when it's untouched for 18 months. This summer we thought it wise to at least trim down the weeds that had begun to compete for sunlight with our neighbors' young aspen trees. Just this month, after several streaks of rainy days, we got the bright idea of digging out what weeds we could, and even the kiddos got into the act. (Little boys seems to be drawn to mud and dirt like mosquitos to light.) Then two bright Sunday mornings ago, still feeling the momentum of our previous progress, I decided to get out there and clear another section of our yard...with one small problem: we hadn't had any recent rain.
It only took me a few stomps with the shovel (and a re-aggravated back spasm!) to realize we weren't going to make any headway. That compacted construction dirt was NOT the pliable mud we had worked with a few days before.
My sore back reminded me all through the week that rain makes all the difference.
Ample moisture turns what is rock hard into something redeemable. Rain makes it possible to remove what shouldn’t be there so we can eventually plant what should be there. How thirsty is your ground?
There's a beautiful promise in the Hebrew Scriptures that gives us hope when our lives feel dried up and rock hard:
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring. Isaiah 44:3
I believe the presence of the Holy Spirit, like a timely rain shower, turns the rock hard heart into something soft and pliable. It's the Holy Spirit who makes it possible to remove what shouldn’t be there -- all that's unwanted and unholy, all that has taken root in the absence of intentional care -- and prepares the way to plant what should be there.
Take a moment and read God's promise again. Is there thirsty, dry ground in your heart, an area of your life that seems back-breaking and incorrigible? Or maybe it's someone else who is close to you, one of your offspring that you long for the softening influence of the Spirit to wash over. God promises floods upon our dry ground. When we thirst and long for rain of God's Spirit upon our lives and our kids', He is faithful to supply.
Maybe you've become tired like I have, tired of tugging and pulling on your life's unwanted weeds only to snap the tops and leave the roots hidden. Maybe you've hurt yourself or others in the process. Oh that we would let God's Spirit be poured out upon our dry ground! May our first work be to wait for God's Spirit before we ever get to weeding.