I had a dream last night:
I was in a small western town.
It was baking in the heat of the relentless red sun.
The people of the town were worried since there had been so little rain. The fields and the dirt roads and the front yards of the houses of the town were growing large cracks in the baked clay soil. The land still grew some vegetation, but it was sparse and weak and barely enough to sustain the people. I talked with the people and felt their worry.
Over the years, some muted rains would come to the town. They were never enough to spring the land to life, but enough to keep what was there alive. The townspeople barely noticed these soft rains. Indeed, their worry got stronger and their whispered complaints to either other grew louder. "What will we do," they said?
They went on, scratching a hard life out of the wretched cracked dirt; resigning themselves to the harshness of the dust that coated their clothes and hair and lives.
In time, a few noticed the gentle rains were becoming more frequent. The top of the soil, they saw, was softer to the touch.
One afternoon, large dark clouds appeared over the horizon. The people looked up from their fields and stood where they were in the sudden stillness to watch the thunderheads close in.
The clouds burst open and it rained. It rained like they had never seen it rain before. Sheets of it poured out of the sky, drenching the people, the houses, the streets and the fields. The people were dumb with awe as the great and terrible storm brought them what they had ceased to hope for. They had forgotten that rain like that even existed.
When the rain slowed and finally stopped, the town was a disaster. Muck and mud was everywhere. Puddles of water pooled in the streets and the fields. But the sun was gentle and the air was clear and sweet smelling. The people started to greet each other outside their houses and they remarked with amazement that the dry, cracked town had not been destroyed with flash flooding.
I realized then that the gentle rains were responsible for protecting the town. The soft rains the people had ignored had softened the ground enough so that the great and terrible storm could be borne. The mighty rain was able to be absorbed into the ground and into the cracks without wiping the town completely away.
I remembered this dream so vividly upon waking this morning. My first thought was that it was such an odd thing to dream about. But following that, it came to me, that it was a sort of answer to a question I've had, and had written of indirectly last night in an email to a friend.
Why here? Why now? Why is my relationship to Christ been reconnected here and now and why is it so incredibly different and strong than when I knew him as a young person?
I am the town. My Father's storm is pouring great and terrible rain down on my cracked and dying land, but because he has stayed with me through the years, and shown me his grace in quiet ways, I will not be washed away. I am covered in muck and mud and have much to clean up. But the air is sweet and my town will live. He says: "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, NOR FORSAKE YOU."
Thank you for all of your rain, Jesus.