In the summer of 1988 Central Ohio experienced the most severe drought in 50 years. We lived in a farming community there where many of the people depended on the abundance of their grain yields from year to year, just staying ahead of the interest on their payments to keep their farms and equipment, and preserve the way of life they loved.
Glenn was a farmer with a sense of humor. One Sunday, late that year, he put a tithe of his produce in the plate – literally. When the ushers returned to the front of the church from receiving the offering we sang the doxology and there in one of the plates was a big, yellow ear of field corn. I looked back for a moment and Glenn’s shoulder’s were shaking with silent laughter.
We all had different ways of dealing with difficulty and God gave Glenn grace, because Glenn and his wife JoAnna would be the stewards of great hardship in the years to come. They would have three boys with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. That’s another story that is still being told.
From late spring to Midsummer there was no rain. At first it was a minor inconvenience and then it became trying. Crops failed and livestock died. The whole community felt the weight of it. I pastored one of too little village churches. I was a young pastor not yet thirty. We prayed earnestly for rain.
The drought did break, and it broke out Sunday at about 11:15 while we were singing a song that I had chosen earlier in the week. The rain came while we were singing, “There shall be Showers of Blessing.” I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hear it rain that morning. It was my job to stimulate faith in people, to seek the hand of God, and to point to the work of God.
I pronounced the benediction at the close of my message and I walked to the big wooden doors that opened out to the church steps. Standing inside because of the rain, I turned to greet the people. I was thrilled and happy because of what had happened. A steady rain had fallen all through the service ringing on the roof like music.
The first man out the door was a farmer who always sat toward the back, mute during the song service and unresponsive during the preaching. He was a cynical type. I flashed him a broad smile and extended my hand warmly to him.
“Well what do you think of that,” I said.
“Of what?” he asked.
He turned with a grunt, dismissing my question and walked away saying, “It could rain like that for a week and it would still be too late to save our crop this year.”
Without any further conversation he turned and walked to his car – one of a fleet that God had provided for him. He drove to lunch – a generous lunch that God provided for him, and then back home to his large farm – the prosperous farm that God provided for him through year after year of gentle rains, steady sun, rich soil, faithful breeze and abundant crops.
I stood on the steps thinking; “God help me always have the good sense to recognize all the good gifts you have given me through the years and thank you for them not matter how long it is between rains.
The Pastor’s Study
Evangel Baptist Church – Taylor, Michigan
February 19, 2009