So, this morning as I was reflecting on the snow storm outside, my mind was brought to the dust storms that I remember in Africa. I know, random to go from snow to dust, but hey that’s where God brought my mind.
I remember dust storms being really exciting. It was like a game for us kids. We would run around crazy excited because it was finally about to pour rain on us. The weather had been crazy hot (remember this is Africa), and the land was parched. It only rains during rainy season there, if that.
The dust storm is the predecessor to the real storm. It lets you know that something big is coming. Some dust storms aren’t bad at all. Others are so bad they turn day into night with thick dust. Regardless of the severity of the storm, we always closed our windows and shut the doors so that as little sand as possible could get into our house. We prepared ourselves for the storm as soon as we saw it coming. We would ride out the dust storm in the safety of our home. The thunder would get louder as the temperature continued to drop as the storm got closer. Even amidst all the dust, it was still much more comfortable. Then the rains came.
The rains were torrential. Our street normally would flood with water, and so would the rest of the city temporarily. Roads would wash away and mini gullys would be carved out of the sand by the torrential rainfall. The thunder was intense, for the storm was intense. But one night when the storm came, me and my brothers decided to keep playing basketball with abandon during this storm. Lighting was hitting a few blocks over, but that only got us more excited. It was one of my greatest memories I have of Africa.
All of this to tell you that life can be like a dust storm. We can see a storm coming, there is a huge cloud of dust up ahead staring us down. God has been preparing us for it while the land is parched. When the dust comes, we are able to ride out the storm because He has prepared us for what is going to happen. We know how to close the windows even though we know full well that a storm is blowing its torrent of dust trying to penetrate every crevasse of the house. In closing the windows, we don’t deny that there isn’t a storm outside. Rather, we live through it and even marvel at its beauty as the sky darkens around us. The storm is right there above us, about to unleash its torrent. Then the torrent of cooling rain comes. It gives water and life to the land, even when it is so intense. We can hear the rain pounding on the tin roof. We know the storm is really intense. There is no denying that when you can barely hear another person talk because the rain on your roof is so loud. There is no denying you are going through a storm. There is more than acknowledging a storm, it’s realizing what the storm brings. Though it is intense, it brings life to a desert land parched and poor. It gives life-giving water to everyone and everything in the land.
God has been doing this in my life. I’ve been riding out one of the most intense dust storms of my life. The sky has been totally blackened out even though it is daylight. But there is eager anticipation for the rains to come. With the dust storm comes the anticipation that you get to play in the rain. It’s dangerous of course, but that is what makes it the best and the most fun. Living for God isn’t easy, nor is it safe. Dust storms aren’t what you want blowing through your house and darkening the skies around you. The storms that come after can be just as unpleasant, especially in a third world country where the water is brewing with what was washed off the streets. That doesn’t include the storm that is raging over your head and soaking your skin with driving pellets of rain. But yet, playing in the rain as a kid you don’t worry about that quite so much. Sure the thunder was scary, and I knew I could get sick from playing in the puddles, but I just didn’t care. It rained! I just want to run out into that rain with joy and enjoy its falling! That is what God is doing now. The rain is coming, it could be dangerous.
We aren’t called to live a safe life. We are to be dangerous and radical for the cause of Christ. Scripture isn’t joking when it asks us to be crucified with Christ. Crucifying yourself with Him is no easy event. We have to die to ourselves. Doing that causes us to live a dangerous life and a radical one for the cause of Christ. At times, that even causes us to suffer for what we believe in.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
What we embrace is the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives through all of that, and the perfection comes through endurance and faith. That rain is dangerous but it is the most refreshing and life-giving thing we can ever get. That is God’s work in our lives. When we fully devote all we are to Him, it doesn’t mean we are going to live an easy life. What it does mean is that rains are coming to refresh the desert lands of our souls. The rain is going to begin to wash away our sins and cause growth in our hearts. None of His words return to Him without growth. That is the nature of rain, and that is His nature. Let us run out and embrace the rains of God as they flood the desert lands of our souls, no matter how dangerous and uncomfortable they can be. The end result is the beauty of God’s work and growth in our lives. Let us take joy in the rain of God, because although it can be dangerous nothing is better than that.