"is this all there is?"

recently i wrote a post angrily describing the weather situation here in north texas. we have been mired in heat and lack of rain, and yes, i am aware it is summer. one of the local news stations has a feature where they record viewers' comments and then air them once a week or so. (this is a very dangerous thing, voicing folks' opinions like that-- they tend to be really ugly. it's another reflection of an overly loud and obnoxious society, another symptom of a lack of community-- an excellent subject for a future posting!) one guy said, "hey, it's texas. it's always been hot in texas. if you don't like it, move somewhere else!"

i love the sentiment of "if you don't like it move somewhere else!" don't ever complain about anything! don't ever voice a differing opinion! why doesn't anyone ever say to those people, "hey, if you don't like us complaining about the weather and everything else under the blazing sun, why don't YOU move somewhere else?" who gave any of us the authority to say, "my way or the highway?"

well, after all my bickering (hey, 22 days over 100+ with a full month of summer left is worth complaining about!) we had some rain. it rained a little sunday afternoon, and even more yesterday. when i went to pick up the mail i noticed the rain running down the curb-- i was so tempted to divert it somehow into my lawn! speaking of which, also in that previous post i questioned watering the grass during drought conditions. i have decided to give up on the front, and water only the back. it actually gets shade and the boys play back there.

the sense of wonder caused by a pretty insignificant rain (officially .01 inches sunday and .03 inches yesterday) was amazing. i told parishioners that i woke up from a nap sunday afternoon to the sound of thunder and thought i was still dreaming! yesterday to sit and watch the rain, or run out in it, was terrific. today the rain clouds have moved on, and temps are expected to soar into the 100's again through the weekend. it's pretty easy to look upward and say, "is this all there is?"

members of our congregation, including myself, have been praying sometime for rain. this can be a dangerous thing, because i don't think anyone understands how prayer works well enough to actually ask for rain. we pray for all kinds of things: sick friends, soldiers at war, leaders we may disagree with. we pray and pray and nothing seems to change. our loved ones do not improve, they may even get worse. peace is still a dream. the rain still does not come. and one day it rains, but not nearly enough, and we are exasperated. if we were honest enough we might even say we were disappointed with God.

through the years i have come to think of prayer in a different way. when i pray for someone or something i try to do it without strings attached. i never give up hope, but i realize that if my prayer is formed in a way that the only possible outcome is the one i will accept (this person cannot die, stop this behavior, make this specific thing happen), then i am making God into some kind of vending machine, and not allowing God to be God. this way of thinking helps me to sit back and be blessed with a wonderful feeling of peace by .03 inches of rain. of course it makes no difference to the environment or the health of the grass and trees. but it makes a difference to my soul, because i have invited God into a place where i/my family/humankind/the world at-large live. prayer is about relationship with God before anything else.

some of us may be in this exact place right now. we have questions and frustrations about the world or our lives or whatever. friends, God wants to hear those things, but offer them without strings attached. be as genuine as you can be-- make your needs explicit-- but do not frame your prayer in a way where there is only one way for God to work. allow God space to work in a way you may not be capable of imagining. when i prayed for rain it was for the sustaining of the health of (my) land. how much that little rain benefited the land i do not know; but i can say a lot for what it did for my soul. and when we experience that sort of awareness of how prayer can work in our lives, there's no reason to ask, "is this all there is?"


Anonymous said…
Great message. Keep 'em comin'.

A. Rogers