We are now over 20 inches behind in average rainfall. Fires are burning in the forests all around us and the smokey haze hanging lowly like a fog reminds me of Beijing, China. Our area is under its worst drought in known history. In fact, fire fighters from all over the nation have come to help put out forest fires and we find ourselves in a state of emergency. Wells are going dry and entire communities are having to haul water from other sources to provide for their residents. Is it time to gather and pray?
On Thursday mornings at 7:00 a men’s Bible group gathers to share God’s word and prayer together. Kendall took us through the first part of Joel chapter 2 last week. This prophet uses a local crisis to raise awareness of God’s hand in history and the need for His people to seek Him. Joel tells about a terrible famine caused by locusts who came and destroyed the vegetation, leaving them without a harvest and facing possible starvation. Kendall asked us, “What are the locusts in your life and what changes do they cause in you?” Some of us shared things in our lives that God has used in the past to bring us to our knees in awareness of our dependency on His provision and our need for His grace. Looking at the sunny skies day after day with no rain in the foreseeable future has become one of those “locusts events.”
We have lived in times of amazing provision and prosperity. After a while it can seem like this is the way it will ALWAYS be. We can, as Lincoln, during the civil war, reminded us, “become intoxicated with unbroken success so that we become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
Now I know that we who believe and take our faith seriously are praying. We are silently asking for God to please send the rain and protect us from the fires. But perhaps we need to reflect on God’s purposes in a deeper way and seek His hand and His plan. Who needs to awaken to God’s will for their lives? How might the Lord be using this to impact those He knows will respond only to the heavy hand of discipline? Perhaps we need to pray for God to use this for His glory and ultimately bring lost sheep into His fold. Also, perhaps we need to consider how we might serve His purposes to accomplish this very goal? Can we confess our confidence in God’s care in conversation with our neighbors and those we come in contact with so that our light might be used to lead others to Him?
One of the first things we are called to do as Christians is proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. God Himself has chosen us to be His people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. But not so we can live a life of ease and comfort. No. We are chosen by God so that we will declare His praises. In doing so, we will not always meet with welcome and appreciation, but let us, as Paul told Timothy, join with him in suffering for the gospel! It is our purpose. The lack of rain may create our opportunity to do so. God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good… even when we need the rain.