“Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:3
I often wonder what must have been going through Noah’s mind standing on the deck of the Ark as the rains started to fall. Just think, once a story is done and you look back on it you can clearly see how it all played out. But when your perspective is from within the story itself things don’t always seem so certain. Sure Noah had God’s promise; so do we, yet we worry don’t we; so why would it surprise us that Noah approached this with a certain amount of fear and trepidation? I’ve often wondered what those drops of rain must have felt like…surely they must have seemed foreboding, terrifying, fear inducing. Or as the rains coming down and the floods coming up wore on for 40 days…”this is it, the whole world’s gone mad and its all coming to an end.” Might these have been Noah’s thoughts? Yet those drops of rain were not the end of the story. The world didn’t come to an end through that rain, instead, the world was born anew because of that rain.
Or I often think about Elijah. He was God’s prophet at a time when it wasn’t so easy to be God’s prophet. Ahab and his queen Jezebel ruled the land and it seemed like all had turned their back on the Lord…and perhaps that the Lord had turned his back on them. You see, they were in the third year of a drought…the very opposite of the flood in Noah’s story. Elijah challenges the Priests of Baal (the religious leaders De jour) to a contest. Whoever can make it rain, that is the one whom God is with. After quite a scene the Priests of Baal are defeated and Elijah is victorious…and down come the rains! Standing on the top of Mount Carmel the text reports: “In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain…the hand of the Lord was on Elijah.” I often wonder what those drops of rain felt like to Elijah as they hit his face…it must have been the feeling of relief, of joy, of consolation. Those rains indicated that Elijah was not abandoned and alone; God was with him! And he would need all of it, because the proverbial storm clouds of hardship were gathering; Jezebel had been made to look like a fool…and she wouldn’t stand for that; but you’ll have to read that story for yourself.
Again, we meet Jesus and Nicodemus late at night somewhere outside Jerusalem. They’re having a debate about salvation and the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells Nicodemus: “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” “What are these waters?” Nicodemus must have thought. “Where are they; what will they be like?” Again there is water. A theme is developing. The rains of the Flood showed Noah that the earth would be born anew. The rains on Mount Carmel showed Elijah that he was not alone; that God was with him. But there’s more! The Israelites had to walk through the parted sea; being hit with the watery spray on all sides as they walked. The Disciples had to sit in the storm tossed boat in Galilee’s sea beaten by the winds and rains. And then there’s us, the disciples of today. We’ve been doused in the rains of Baptism. Rains that speak a word of judgment to our sinful selves as the rains of Noah’s story spoke judgment to a sin sick world. But these baptismal rains speak another word, a word of rebirth…a word that we are not alone…that God is with us! Jesus comes to us like the rains that water the earth in springtime says Hosea. Think of those rains; they’re warm and refreshing. They shower down on all things and soak them. They give the earth, and us, a certain vibrancy and new life after they have fallen. God comes to use like the rains. He rained down on Noah and Elijah. He rained down on Nicodemus and the disciples. And he rains down on us too. All these disciples of the Lord: Noah, Elijah, the Israelites, Nicodemus, and the disciples; they walked wet with the promise and presence of God. So to for us, receivers of the rains of God, let us walk wet in the promise and the presence of God. For he comes to us like the rain.