Receiving the Rain

 Pouring rain and a cloudy afternoon in the quiet of naptime’s hush. Ahhhhh. Jesus loves to slow us down with the weather and somehow my heart always is surprised to find a lifting of a certain pressure whenever the clouds roll in and the rain begins. I’ve always loved the rain. When I was little I remember I saved up $7 to buy my first umbrella. I couldn’t imagine a more worthy purchase. And then I would wait…sunny day after sunny day…waiting for the rain. Across the street from my house was an empty lot that just so happened to overlook the little town I lived in (very little actually—who’s ever heard of Moscow, Idaho?). When the rain would finally come I would take my little umbrella and go stand overlooking the town for as long as possible. To me, there was nothing like the “quiet” of pounding rain upon my umbrella, drowning out every other sound and surrounding me with solitude on every side. I think I still feel that way. I love the sound of rain and the silence it demands by its musical and restful rhythm. I love the slowness it insists upon in its dripping and shadowy skies. It makes me feel a sense of solitude and a sense of being surrounded by the Sender all at the same time—alone with Alone says it well.

That’s where I am today, in the center of that solitude…breathing and drinking deeply as my Jesus surrounds me with His love on every side. Oh how I love Him…and how He loves me…even in the sending of the rain.

From my book Entirety on Personalizing God’s Pursuit in Creation:

I’ll never forget when I first believed that God was actually pursuing my heart with the mission of love in a personal manner through His created order. It happened for the first time with a flower…actually several of them. Over ten years ago now, it’s like yesterday in my memory. In those days, I lived with several girls in a duplex in a not-so-great part of town. Affordable? Yes. Safe? Well, let’s just say that we were all glad to graduate from those times. Behind this duplex was what I called “my field.” It was where I went to pray and be with God. In truth, it was an overgrown lot, a mess of weeds so thick that there was little draw for anyone to walk through it. Thus, it was mine, all mine. And in all of my trampings through my field, I never saw anyone else back there, only ever confirming to me that this was the place where God waited for me, the place He wanted to meet me.

It was one very hot day, as were most of the days spent in that field. I was pacing in prayer back and forth, up and down, sometimes with words, sometimes with a little song, sometimes with silence. I remember I wanted to make an actual visible path through those weeds that I could call my own, and so on this day, being not the first of the path-plowing endeavor, back and forth I walked in my trail, up and down in the same straight line, over and over and over and over again. This day was also like most others spent in this way in that there was not a lot happening in my prayer time in the perceivable realm. I didn’t feel much movement in the Word. I wasn’t hearing anything from the Lord. My heart seemed to be a bit stuck, not moving in tenderness or any distinguishable breakthrough. A bit discouraged, yet sure of God’s desire to be found by me, I kept pacing and praying, praying and pacing, back and forth, over and over, eyes to the ground, as the weeds beneath my feet slowly came into submission, and my path became ever so faintly discernable.

It was on one particular stride down the path when I was suddenly struck by something. There alongside my ever-so-faint footpath were a small group of wildflowers, lifting their heads up to greet me. And then and there I was struck by a possibility. My mind started reasoning. Why are these flowers here, right alongside this path of mine? Who knows about this path except me…and the Lord? Who is here to enjoy these flowers except me? Has there ever been anyone else back in this overgrown lot except me? Then would it be so far-fetched to assume, that these flowers are in fact planted right here along my path for none other than I?? In all the silence, am I imagining God might have wanted to voice His love to me this day through these flowers, right here along my path? Hmmmm…And the reasoning went on as my ever-so-small faith sought to sprout from its seed form, fighting against my “better judgment” that I was being childish and seeking to overcome my skepticism that Love could actually be made manifest in such a way.

I’m not sure I fully believed those flowers were for me that day, but something faint changed in me, and my eyes have never been the same. Though I might have begun with mostly skepticism fighting against a tiny bit of faith, as the days went on, the percentages soon changed, and faith and love began to win. Soon I began to see new flowers that were not there the day before, and I was certain of why they were there on these later days. And it wasn’t just the flowers. The rain became a signature telling of God’s love for me. Every time it rained, no matter what I was doing, I became arrested by God’s tender love that He wanted to voice to me. In fact, I was such a believer in this divine-rain-giving that my roommate at the time used to say, “Every time it rains I just think, ‘Wow. God sure does love Dana.’”

In those days one of my big events of the evening was to get in my car right before nightfall and rush up to the top of my favorite hill to watch the sunset. The whole event was all for me. And God’s love was so loud through it, so real, so near. I used to watch all of the cars driving on the highway far below and wonder if anyone else in the near vicinity was catching this, if anyone else was claiming what was so readily being offered. And near nightfall, I would watch, as in extreme unnecessary proficiency, God painted the sky with a blaze of color and light, just for me. As the heavens declared the glory of God once more in the descending of the sun, I took my place as one receiving this personal expression of God’s love—a testimony of His nearness unto me (Ps. 19:1–6).