To say it’s been a long, hot, dry summer in southwest Oklahoma is a monumental understatement. I think we might be getting almost dry enough to kill a crapemyrtle (the nearly indestructible tree/shrub of which our fair city of Duncan is the Oklahoma capitol – officially in 2008!).
Homes and crops have been lost in wildfires. Lives have been lost to the heat. Where there once were lakes there are ponds. Where there once were ponds there are puddles. Where there once were rivers there are barely streams. Where there were streams there are hard, dry creek-beds.
The extreme conditions have stirred in my mind the longing of the old hymn, “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing.” I remember singing it in the farm-centered church family in which I grew up. There were certain songs that seemed to have more life, more recognition in that place than any other I knew. This was one of those songs. They seemed to have a soul-deep understanding of the need for rain. What I know only from a little landscaping and some casual observation, they had lived and experienced and known. No matter how skillful the farmer, how ideal the soil, how optimum the fertilization, there would be no sprouting, no growing, no fruit without rain.
Do you remember the words? The second verse always stands out the most to me:
There shall be showers of blessing
Precious reviving again
Over the hills and the valleys
Sound of abundance of rain
Showers of blessing
Showers of blessing we need
Mercy-drops round us are falling
But for the showers we plead
The showers in the song are not the rains for which we have prayed this summer – the desperately-needed moisture upon a dangerously dry land. These showers are the outpourings of spiritual blessings upon His people. The showers of blessing are just as crucial to the bearing of spiritual fruit as the rain is to the crop.
Throughout the Scriptures, there is a pattern of God’s response to the earnest, longing cries of a penitent people. Promises are given time and time again that, when His people turn their hearts wholly to Him and surrender to whatever He may determine for them, He will pour out His mighty works upon them. One of these examples is in Isaiah 30. In verse 19 we see a statement that jumps off the page at my thirsty heart, “He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry.” Did you notice the cue for which He is waiting? It’s “the sound of your cry.” A few verses later we see the promised response in verse 23:
And He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous.
There they are – the showers of blessing. For these showers let us earnestly plead.
O God, let it rain.