Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
The rain. It’s a frequent topic of conversation, for farmers and non-farmers alike. Now the summer is over we remember our recent ‘great spell of weather’, when Northern Ireland became the hottest place in the UK for one day!
The grass stopped growing and began to yellow, and the novelty of such good weather became a cause of complaint as we were given our hosepipe ban and warned of low water levels in the reservoirs. Dire warnings of crops dying brought alarm. Animals had to be fed silage, a problem usually associated with very different weather.
Now the weather is back to ‘normal’, with rain coats and umbrellas always at the ready, the grass is lovely and green again and the rain is to thank for this. Cattle and crops – and even gardens – are all glad to see it. As I sit to write this morning, I look out my window on a grey sky, as beads of rain cascade down the glass.
However, do we appreciate the rain? We sometimes think we get too much. But what of those in parts of our world like Greece and more recently California, or Sweden, which is facing its worst drought more than 70 years?
The Bible has a lot to say about the rain. It is a marvel how water evaporates from the sea to form clouds, which are blown over the land by the wind. As the air cools, the clouds deposit their water as rain on all below. Ingenious - no rain, no life!
Did you know that in every minute over the globe 1 billion tons of rain falls? It is a gift from God who “... sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous...” (Matthew 5:45). He is so kind, even though we may not acknowledge him, or say thanks.
God’s Word is like rain. He says in Deuteronomy (32:2) “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” In the biblical dry lands of the Middle East, where our Moderator visited recently, we see withered plants, parched grass, even death for everything that depends on water. Then when the rain comes eventually, life springs up everywhere.
So are our lives without God. Spiritually, we wither and die. God’s Word is like the rain, in that it comes down from heaven. It is like Jesus who came down from heaven to live among us on earth and give up his life on the cross to save us. Rain falls in season to give life. He came down to give eternal life.
When we open our Bibles and read God’s Word, or when we go to church and hear it preached, we let the ‘rain’ of his Word fall into our minds. If we open up our hearts through faith and let the ‘rain’ of God’s Son Jesus in, our dry and dead souls come alive - new life and the eternal hope of heaven springs up. Will we pray the words of an old song, ‘Let it rain, let it rain’? I hope you will.
Ian was brought up on a dairy farm near Limavady. He was a minister in Ballyroney and Drumlee congregations in south Down, and latterly Moneydig Presbyterian in Co Londonderry. Due to a serious cancer diagnosis, Ian has had to retire from active ministry and now provides counselling and support to others with cancer.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the subjects raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.