With so much wildfire destruction in Australia, it’s difficult to imagine the scope of the damage. Think about the entire East Coast of the USA in flames. We have been asked to pray for rain there. I hope you have been praying too. It feels almost primitive to me, as when the ancient Navajo chief prayed for rain on the dried up grassy plains. So basic. So practical. So urgent. It reminded me of a poem I wrote on retreat some years ago that still captures my spirit. This is what I hope for in Australia:
I am soaked through
Like the torrents of rain that take over the air
Making everything seem as if it was all made of water.
swimming in mid-air
With the sound of applause from the rain.
An ocean in the sky.
The trees standing with heads bowed
Limbs long and still
Rain running off their fingertips
And roaring on the roof
Our God reigns.
God does indeed reign, even though, in America, we are not attracted to the reign of kings. We fought a war of independence against a king, so we certainly don’t need one now. More to the point, God reigns as the Word which rains down on us all the time. Consider this passage from Isaiah 55:10-11:
Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.
If we truly believe this scripture, –that the Word of God is as present to us and as drenching on us as rain– then we can ask for help, indeed sometimes plead for help in any situation. At times, if you are feeling a little desperate, it is not a bad thing. Faith is tied to our feelings, to our desires for good, to our hopes for ourselves and our hopes for the world. The Word of God goes forth and does not return empty. Listen for it in the rain, in the wind, in the heart of another person. Look at in the puddle in the street. The Word reigns, pervades all things, sustains every creature, every living thing is held in place because the Word of God goes forth. Sometimes other storms take over our attention and we can be overwhelmed by events in our own homes, our country, our world. God’s Word is a reign storm, it waters the earth, making it fertile, giving seed to those who sow, bread to those who eat. We believe it, even when we cannot see it.
My prayer today is that God’s reign will be more evident, that I will see it more clearly and that my prayers for the people and country of Australia will be answered soon. May rain come, may God’s reign come. Amen