President's Blog

April 1, 2014


“April showers bring May flowers”

Matthew 5:45b “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

I grew up in the town of Bremerton, Wash., which is situated on the very green Olympic Peninsula. I never saw a cloudless sky in the 18 years that I lived there – and that’s the truth. There was never any fear of drought – more like fear of drowning! Forget April showers – there were showers every month, although in winter the rain sometimes took the form of snow. Perhaps it is not surprising that my childhood interpretation of the rain in Matthew 5:45 was a negative one. God sending rain on the just and the unjust seemed like equal opportunity punishment. Since it rained so often and it landed on everybody, there was no benefit to being just when it came to the weather. If the verse had promised that God causes his sun to shine on the just and the rain to fall on the unjust, it would have made life a whole lot neater. I was not alone in perceiving rain to be a negative thing.  In his work The Stonemason, Cormac McCarthy writes this rhyme:

The rain falls upon the just

And also on the unjust fellas

But mostly it falls upon the just

Cause the unjust have the just’s umbrellas.

I left home the night of my high school graduation since a friend of mine had a job interview in Walnut Creek, California the next day and he was my transportation to San Francisco. I had applied to attend Simpson College in the fall of 1972, and I hoped to find work for the summer.  I remember passing through Redding and seeing the red soil in the banks along the freeway. I thought I had come to… you know… the place in the afterlife where it’s really hot. The irony is that I now live there. My friend’s car did not have air conditioning – nobody I knew in Washington had air conditioning – and it was hot.

California is in a cycle of drought and this year has been relatively severe. The rainfall is half the normal amount, and the snowpack on the surrounding mountains is minimal. California is a place where people actually pray for rain (we did in church), and we have local folks who even dance for it. I have reluctantly come to embrace the verse for what it means. Rain is a good gift from God. His love for all is evident in the falling rain. Jesus uses the reality of rain poured out by God on the unrighteous to challenge us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In this way, we will act like our Heavenly Father.  He gives his blessings to all people without qualification, for his love and mercy know no limits.

The meaning of Matthew 5:45 brought to mind an old hymn that we sang in my childhood church titled, There Shall Be Showers of Blessing. The theme is taken from Ezekiel 34:26b where it reads “I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” Here are the verses and refrain from the hymn written in 1883 by Daniel Whittle and put to music by James McGranahan. Feel free to sing out loud if you know the song.

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Refrain

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

Refrain

There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

Refrain

There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Refrain

There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.

May the April showers of God’s love result in the growth of all that is beautiful in his sight.

Dr. Robin Dummer

 

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