Send Me the Rain
Over the last several months, since we entered the new year, I’ve been praying a couple different prayers in a couple different ways. If you subscribe to my monthly email letter, then you heard the origin of one of those prayers back at the beginning of March: God, send me the rain.
Send me the rain.
I spent the last week visiting my sister in Cookeville, TN. She had a baby in February, and I’ve been so eager to meet him. His name is Kellen, and he’s got the cutest little mouth and makes the most melt-your-heart gurgling gasp that seems to travel straight from his belly and into my heart. I love him and I love my sister, and I’ve loved watching them together.
Aside from getting to meet my new baby nephew, I was eager for a week-long escape to Tennessee. My sister and her husband live in a completely opposite place to where Dan and I live. It’s rural, surrounded by trees and farmland. They have maybe five or six neighboring houses that you can see from their doorstep, and at night, the stars come out.
The older I get, the more I appreciate visits to Tennessee. In fact, I long for them. In a city that stays open nearly all night, in an apartment with neighbors that yell and watch tv and listen to loud music until 2am, in a church that values concert-level rock music (that, for the record, is still very good, just loud!), my soul longs for quiet. It begs me for it, especially in seasons like this where God is speaking and I struggle to stay quiet long enough to actually hear what he is saying.
On Wednesday night, as Kellen settled down for sleep and the three of us adults watched TV, the rain prayer fluttered across my heart again— God, send me the rain.
In a flash, the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal ran across my mind. I thought of Elijah, challenging the prophets of Baal to call on their god to send down fire and burn up on offering that he had placed on an alter. They couldn’t do it.
Afterwards, Elijah upped the ante by pouring water on the altar before asking God to send down fire. God did it. He burned up the altar, and the Israelites, who had formerly been worshipping Baal, turned their hearts back towards God.
It had been forever since I’d read that story so I'm not sure how it got there. Maybe Annie Downs mentioned in her book that I’m reading or maybe God just put it there. Either way, I remembered that for some reason, Elijah and the people of Israel were on that mountain because they needed rain. In addition to calling on God for fire, they were calling on God to send the rain.
I woke up the next morning around 6am. Everything was quiet except for the soft rumble of the television in the living room— my sister watching Seventh Heaven while she pumped or fed Kellen.
I savored the soft pillows for another minute then turned on the light. I’d left my Bible at home so I grabbed my iPad (can we all just take a minute and say “thank you!” to technology? A whole Bible in every translation I could ever think of, existing inside something that’s not even an inch thick? My carry-on bag, and therefore, my back and shoulders, are grateful for it!) and opened to 1 Kings 18:1
“After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”
A little backstory for you:
Ahab was the current king of Israel. He was an evil king in a long line of evil kings since Solomon died and the kingdom had split into two. 1 Kings 16 tells us that Ahab was more evil than all the other kings that came before him. Not only did he commit the sins of the kings before him, but he also married Jezebel—a woman who ushered in the worship of Baal and killed the prophets of God.
God had used his prophet, Elijah, to predict a drought. After the prediction, God directed Elijah to flee to another town where He provided food and water for Elijah for three years. Then, in 1 Kings chapter 18 God directed Elijah to return to Ahab because it was time for the drought to end.
So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord ʼs prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)
Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’ ” “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death?”
1 Kings 18:2-9 NIV
I continued reading through the rest of the chapter.
I read about Obadiah’s hesitancy to tell Ahab that Elijah was here. I read Elijah’s assurance that Obadiah would not be killed. I read Elijah’s call for Ahab to summon the prophets of Baal and meet him on Mount Carmel. I read about the “battle” that I had remembered the night before— the one where God’s power outshone the prophets of Baal and the people returned to Him. I read about the aftermath—where Elijah slaughtered the prophets of Baal (those kinds of details are still hard for me to take in and understand) and then sent a messenger to look out over the sea. Seven times he had to look before finally, he saw a rain cloud forming over the water and heading towards the land.
I read the whole chapter once through, then turned my attention to those first eight verses. I asked God what he wanted me to know and this is what He revealed:
1.) He will always send the rain.
It may not come when I want it to. It may not come how I want it to. But God always sends the rain.
In the story, the drought lasted for three years. The people were no longer following God. Elijah’s life was in danger. But God still sent the rain. He sent it even though Ahab was evil. He sent it even though his people were fickle. He still sent the rain.
2.) I will always have a choice.
When Elijah showed up, Ahab and Obadiah were working on a temporary solution to the drought problem— go find some grass to feed the animals so they don’t have to kill any of them. They had a plan, and it made sense to them. Then God showed up.
Just like Obadiah, I have a choice when God shows up. I can continue doing things my own way, finding temporary solutions and doing whatever it takes to just get by. Or, I can trust God, even when it doesn’t make sense and even when it seems a little scary.
3. There will always be a risk.
Obadiah had to risk his life. He had to trust what Elijah said and trust what God would do.
Ahab also had to take a risk. He had to take the risk of looking at himself and seeing what was true. He had lead the people into worshipping the prophets of Baal. He had sinned. He had done evil in the eyes of the Lord, and there, on Mount Carmel, he was faced with the truth of himself.
Facing our pride and coming to terms with the ways in which we’ve messed up can be incredibly risky and painful. But even in the Old Testament, our God is gracious. He still sent the rain. He still forgave his people. I believe he was ready to forgive Ahab, but Ahab couldn’t do it. He returned to Jezebel and continued to rule in his evil ways.
I’m not sure what’s going on in your life, but I want you to know that God will send the rain. There will be a risk, and we will have to choose to follow him, but He always sends it. Over and over again throughout scripture he tells us that he will send the rain.
Those of you who have been following for a while know that the last two years have been an all out storm. The winds and the waves have wrecked and ravaged our (my husband and I’s) inner lives. We lost people, our plans shifted, and we’ve been left bruised. I understand what it’s like to be in those heavy seasons.
It’s almost like there are two kinds of rain— the turbulent storms that rip everything right out of the ground, and the soft spring showers that make everything new again.
That’s the kind of rain I’m waiting on now. That’s the rain I’m asking him to send— the rain that heals. The rain makes the new. The rain that gives me proof that the storm was not for nothing.
And maybe you’re there too. Maybe you’ve been in a dry parched place, asking God for rain for a long long time. Maybe you’re caught up in a storm and wondering when the healing rain is going to come through.
I’m there with you. I’m through the storm, but the healing rain hasn’t come yet. There are things that I have been asking of God for two years, and other things 10 years. And they haven’t shown up yet.
But I’m believing they will. I’m believing God will send the rain because he says he will. And I’m believing it for you too.
The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land. 1 Kings 17:14
I will send rain on the land. 1 Kings 18:1
He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields. Job 5:10
God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain you grow will be abundant. Isaiah 30:23
Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced fruit. James 5:18