One of the reasons I love working with teenagers is the fresh perspective they bring to the tired cliche viewpoints we “vintage people” often carry around.
About a week ago (after my last post about Bob Dylan’s call for justice in “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,”) I gave a talk centered around the song and God’s call for justice as expressed in Micah 6:8 at a men’s retreat (during which it actually started raining…no lie! I don’t care how many of those “God moments” you’ve had, it still blows my mind when it happens!). The premise was, as Micah warned Israel and as Dylan warned the restless culture of the early 1960s, that there are consequences for mistreating God’s creation–his people and his world. In the live version of the song I play on my iPod, Dylan introduces the song by saying, “Hard rain’s gonna fall means something’s gonna happen.” And it’s easy to see how hard rains fall in our lives as individuals, communities and cultures when we ignore Micah’s advice: “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”
Yesterday, though, I got a new perspective on the metaphor of rain.
Now, for this next part to make sense, you have to understand what it’s like to be living in a situation, and how that situation influences your context. We’ve had several consecutive days of on-and-off showers here in the valley. Some good soaking rains mixed with periods of sunshine, and a lot of just here-and-there, steady drizzle. It’s easy to get either inwardly contemplative or downright dark when one of those weather patterns sets in for an extended period. At the very least, the near constant rain becomes the backdrop for nearly all your thoughts and conversations.
So, we’re sitting with the youth in Sunday School, and one of our teens is sharing a lesson on 1 John and how we grow into our identities as children of God. And it’s raining outside. And, almost imperceptibly, Matt changed my perspective on the situation.
Too often, I think, we look for those places where God’s word convicts us. Maybe it’s our guilty consciouses, or maybe it’s just a cynical outlook, but when we read admonitions like those Micah was handing out on Israel, we tend to put ourselves in the story and say, “Yep, that’s just like what’ s going to happen in my life if I don’t straighten up and fly right.”
“Hard rain’s gonna fall means somthing’s gonna happen.”
But as Matt so beautifully brought out in connecting our rainy weather to the way God instructs and grows us through scripture, sometimes a hard rain is exactly what we need to grow. To become productive. To become beautiful. Rain is not just about judgement and retribution…it’s not always about the coming flood. More often, it’s about renewal and vibrancy. It’s about freshness and newness. It washes away at the same time as it feeds and nourishes.
So a big thanks to Matt Flowers for opening up a new perspective for me. And as the rain continues to fall outside, I pray it brings all my family, friends and neighbors the renewal and nourishment of all God’s promises.
“Hard rain’s gonna fall means something’s gonna happen.”