Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The second rain

I like to think growth is linear. Like driving a car. We can go forward, we can go in reverse, or we can stop. That makes so much sense to me.

But I realize God doesn't see growth that way. He has a crazy, unpredictable way of both growing us and measuring that growth. The only people that must get it are the farmers and the horticulturists. You prune a plant to make it grow fuller and more fruitful. It's not going backwards to go forwards again on the same path. It's losing something to gain something new. Its a breaking in order to be realigned in a new way. 

And it totally throws me. Set backs, especially in relationships, are unnerving. Remember, I always always always want to keep moving forward in a line. (How boring! But oh, how safe it feels.) I naturally want to just keep getting better and better at being a friend and wife and daughter, getting closer to perfect every day.

But God isn't really into that program of mine, and instead He keeps wrapping my straight line through the nearest obstacle course. He's not trying to frustrate me or torture me. He's trying to make me more fruitful: His choicest fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (How can I become fruitful without these things being tested?) Following straight lines doesn't grow deeply rooted, fruit-filled trees. It grows immature saplings, easily uprooted by the first strong wind.

Ironically, God's pruning, His allowing of those setbacks, is the very thing that make me question His promises to me. And right away, I wonder if I heard right. I wonder if I was foolish to believe in a Love so big. And tonight, faced with a setback, God brought to mind Noah.

I read up on him a little and wow. There are some details worth mentioning in his famous story. First of all, it's important to know that before the flood, it had never rained on the earth before. Apparently, there was enough moisture in the ground as well as the atmosphere to sustain life. Noah was 600 years old when it did flood, so he had quite a bit of experience with it NOT raining.

But then the rain started. Lots of intense rain. Most people think Noah and his family were in the ark for 40 days and nights. Indeed, this is how long it rained - nearly six weeks straight. But through several chapters in early Genesis, you find that God did not actually call he and his family to come out of the boat (meaning the water had not yet subsided enough) for an additional eleven months!

I think I could list "living on the ark for one year" as the hardest thing I'd ever experienced, if that were me. But in a moment of beautiful grace, God quickly gives a promise to Noah, with a sign: "Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life." (Gen 9:14-15)

His promise means everything, doesn't it?

Tonight, in the midst of what feels like a significant setback, I thought of Noah and how before the flood, the Bible says he "believed God." He walked with God. He was a righteous man.

But what on earth did Noah feel when he witnessed rain for the second time? I'd bet utter panic.

The first rain brought him one year of life being stopped short to watch death and destruction swirl around him. He slept among his extended family in a massive boat full of animals, endlessly rocking. Never ceasing to rock, never feeling still. Imagine that.

I'm trying to imagine how I'd feel when raindrops hit my face for the second time. God's promise to never flood the earth again would look thin, if I remembered it at all. And would I question what I saw in the sky? What was that, exactly? Gosh it was so long ago...perhaps not a sign, just an illusion. Would I think only a complete fool would believe God would promise me anything?

The second rain would feel like a huge setback. All the old feelings would begin to stack against me like the ominous clouds in the sky. The fears of revisiting the place of my deepest trials would haunt me.

Are haunting me.

I'm feeling the drips hit my face and finding it a challenge to remember the rainbow.

Lord, your promises to me are everything. Let me not forget how you are so much more faithful than I. Your every word is true and trustworthy. Please show me that the rain will not become a flood, no matter how bleak the skies get. Keep my feet upon your rock.  

{If you haven't read Noah's story in a while, you can find it in Genesis 6:9 through the end of chapter 9. Whoever said the Bible was boring never read Genesis.}


  1. Great post, Leslie. I struggle with remembering God's promises, too. In fact, it's been my struggle most of this week. It's easy to remember them when things seem to be going the way I want...but as soon as that rain starts again, I stop believing. Thank you for writing this. I needed to hear this tonight.
    And, I agree. Genesis is awesome! My husband and I have been reading through a chapter a night...and it's been such a great refresher. I love reading the stories of others who've made plenty of mistakes, yet God still used them and loved them. Amazing...

  2. Wow. We are sharing a brain to the point that it's freaking me out a little. I'm receiving this as confirmation of what's been on my heart the last few days. Thank you.

  3. Your precious heart is growing before our eyes. He does know how that raindrop can cause us to fear. And as He sends it, His Grace is already abundantly supplied, the exact portion you need, and it has your name on it. And so your faith grows because, once again He has shown Himself Faithful. This will be so encouraging to so many. Thank you for bringing Him Glory through the words of your testimony.

  4. I have never thought about that before (what Noah must have felt when it rained for the first time AFTER the flood). That sure is a physical manifestation of trusting in His promises!

  5. the second rain. something i have never thought about. but i know precisely what you mean, from experience. thank you. you probably do, but maybe you don't, have any idea what this spoke to me. i'm praying for you and thanking God for the unique way that He speaks to you and through you. these words are priceless.

  6. i love that first line, about growth being linear. so true. What a great post, I have been there so many times. Its hard to remember the rainbow during the storm but the comfort is that it always comes. it was refreshing to read this post, thank you for sharing. I also found faith blogs through your blog so thank you for that too! what a great website.