I woke up this morning to a kinder, gentler world than the one in which I had gone to bed.
It’s been wet and rainy for several days, but nothing spectacular. In fact, the farmers had been smiling. ‘This is the month we especially need rain’, one had told me. About half of my garden was flooded, but I felt sure that sunny weather would dry things up before any significant damage was done to my sunflowers, peas and potatoes. Besides, the new garden area that was most flooded had perhaps been poorly chosen. I’m new to this community, and it takes time to figure out the best spots in a yard to do your planting. Still, I had high hopes of showing off stately rows of sunflowers lining my driveway as a display to please the judges on July 20th when they come through town in their Communities In Bloom tour of the province.
Yesterday, though, was a game-changer. The rain came down in sheets and the wind blew with what felt to me like hurricane force. I went out to do chores dressed in my usual sweater and jeans, but this time covered by my parka, knit gloves for my hands, and my cowboy hat to protect my head. I had not previously worn my parka at all, not even when I had first arrived at the end of February to a couple of feet of snow and minus ten-ish temperatures. Here on the Canadian prairies that is nice and comfortable- classic sweater weather. Yesterday when I arrived back in the house I was chilled to the bone.
I got up this morning to find every one of my young chickens- recently feathered out and happy to be outdoors pecking on dandelion plants and eating bugs- lying cold and dead. The leaves on many of my sunflower plants are turning yellow on the edges. Not a good sign. As I looked at the sad scene before me I thought that rice- which can grow in standing water- would have been a better crop for my first year in this new-to-me Peace River country.
A long time ago Jesus told everybody gathered to hear His ‘sermon on the mount’ that ‘He (God) makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.’ (Matthew 5:45) This tells us at least two things:
1) that God has graciously provided the conditions that we need to survive on this planet Earth. We exist in an extraordinarily narrow band of temperature, humidity, and combination of atmospheric gasses such as to nurture a wide variety of carbon-based life forms. A change of conditions of very small proportion would wipe us all out, leaving this planet as barren and lifeless as all the other planets in our solar system. This rain that feels extreme to us is eminently survivable, and the 7 billion humans living on this globe are testimony to how benign conditions generally are here.
2) that we who have experienced God’s blessings are called by Him to spread His love to those who are struggling. Sometimes the falling rain becomes a flood. Sometimes the shining sun becomes a drought. Our status as either good or evil people does not significantly affect whether we have a flood or a drought to cope with in God’s providential economy, but our status as God’s children does mean that we should look for opportunities to share with those doing less well in this world.
This fall some will harvest bumper crops as a result of this 6 inches of rain over the past three or four days. Others will experience a general die-off because of the same 6 inches of rain. There will be winners and losers, as there are every year under every set of circumstances. The question before us, then, is what to do with our winning or losing. Will we be generous in our winning, helping those who are having a tougher time? Will we be hopeful even in our losing circumstances, looking out for the next opportunity God sends our way, even as we graciously accept help from others more fortunate than ourselves?
The rain this week reminds us of an eternal truth: it’s not what happens to you that matters. What matters is what you do with it. Whether you’re winning or losing on any given day, always remember that you are a child of God. Jesus hung on that cross at Calvary all those centuries ago to save you. No matter what else happens, the death of Jesus makes you a winner, and the resurrection of Jesus means that you can share that winning with those who are losing.
Maybe I should have planted rice. I didn’t. But even if I lose my garden I’m still a winner because my trust is not placed in any particular piece of ground. My trust is in a person. And you’re a winner, too, if you put your trust in Jesus! Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Hallelujah!