I usually start my morning on the patio behind our house before sunrise. Last week Orion greeted me, shining brightly in the southern sky, still on the hunt. A full moon hung low on the western horizon flooding the land with soft shadows. But the stars and the moon soon faded as the sky grew gray and the sun approached from the east. One morning neither stars nor moon appeared. The black sky was draped with clouds. I thought I caught a glimpse of lightning out of the corner of my eye, but dismissed it as a flash from the TV screen through a window. And then, I thought I felt a drop of moisture on my forehead. But, again, I dismissed it as my imagination. We had not seen rain in over two months. As the day dawned, I heard the rumble of thunder and felt the sprinkle of rain. I did not run for cover. I sat there, letting the rain fall and smelling, for the first time in months, the fragrance of wet earth. It soon stopped. Last night we had our first heavy rainstorm of the season.
We have been locked in a devastating drought in Texas. We set an all-time record for heat, most days over 100 degrees in our history. Texas was declared the hottest and driest state in the United States. Wildfires have blackened hundreds of square miles and thousands of homes have burned to the ground. It has been a devastating summer. The drought is still not over, and will not be until a foot or more of rain falls on the land.
In August we drove across the Texas panhandle. The landscape looked like scorched earth. We passed through one small west Texas town where a liquor store posted a message on its marquee: “Pray for rain.” A few miles down the road we ran into rain, torrential showers that were moving around the west Texas prairies like a gigantic irrigation system in the sky. When we entered the downpour we could barely see to drive. When we exited, we could see other dark streaks of rain slanted across the open horizon. Of course, they didn’t last and they did not end the drought, and they were local to the region around Dumas. But at least the liquor store had its prayers temporarily answered.
Sometimes we are able to live in our insulated world of air-conditioned houses, buildings, automobiles and planes so that we forget that we are part of creation. Nature has a way of putting our human egos into their rightful place. In spite of our technological advancements, we cannot control the weather. The drought has reminded us of our dependence upon the earth. If the rain stopped we would dry up and die. We have been reminded that life on this planet is a gift and that we live by the grace and goodness of God.
The Bible says, “it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.” (Zechariah 10:1). “He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows.” (Isaiah 30:23). “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it.” (Isaiah 45:8).