I’ve been doing some thinking about the symbolism of rain… On Sunday we went into Caen to pray, and got soaked. We huddled under umbrellas as the heavens opened on the city centre. We chose to take the rain as a symbol not of God’s indifference but of his blessing. Far from driving us from the streets, it was calling us onto them… This morning I read some great words from an ancient Hebrew song “Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase." (Psalm 85:11-12, ESV) Rain is not used here as a metaphor for God’s blessing but as an actual evidence of it. How will we eat unless the sky pours out its blessings?
The same image is used by the prophet Isaiah as evidence that earth and heaven were designed to connect; to interact. They are divided, just as the sky is divided from the earth, but they live in a eco-system of mutual interaction. The sky gives blessing and the earth responds in fruitfulness (Isaiah 55:10-11). We were made to live in just such an eco-system, receiving from God and offering back to him the fruits of his blessing.
Two things strike me about these images of earth, sky and rain.
The first is that they are about relationship. The rain doesn’t simply communicate from sky to earth, it connects them. It bridges the divide, united them in a single organic system. This image is used throughout the biblical narrative as a picture of God’s intention for us. Relationship, not rules, dominate the biblical worldview.
The second thing that is significant here for me is that neither party to the deal is passive. The sky gives rain, the earth gives back fruit. Both bring something to the party. God does not ask us to be passive recipients of his blessings but to take them in, letting his presence and purposes soak deeply into us so that they change the fruit produced by our lives.
Don’t just receive blessing. Don’t just look for what you can get. Receive purpose. Receive a call to more. Receive transformation. Rain doesn’t simply wash the desert. Given time, it makes it bloom.