Called to Worship – Issue #1
by Phil Mershon
Send the Rain – 1 Kings 17-18
I can’t remember a time with such diverse and prolific natural disasters. We have seen record-setting tornadoes and life-changing earthquakes and hurricanes. Many rivers have exceeded long-standing flood records and wildfires ravage many drought-ridden parts of the U.S. Where I live in Kansas, we’re experiencing an extreme drought, with crops shriveling and cattle taken to market early.
My first inclination is to pray for rain, but I was reminded last night by my friend Mark Oelze (a local marriage counselor) that God asks for a different response: pray for conviction. Of course we need rain; our lives depend on it. But God is more committed to show us our need for Him; our souls depend on it.
When Elijah predicted the drought in 1 Kings 17 and then confronted Ahab, he focused on Ahab’s heart rebellion, not the condition of Ahab’s crops. In fact, when God finally sent rain, Ahab couldn’t handle it and got stuck in his chariot. He was given a chance to repent and refused. Lord, may we not be so hard-hearted.
When God foretold the 7 years of famine in Joseph’s day, his focus was on showing his sovereignty over creation and his protection and provision for his people. Joseph had eyes to see God’s sovereignty when he declared, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good” (Gen. 50:20, paraphrased).
Jesus demonstrated his mastery over creation by calming storms, shriveling fig trees, feeding thousands from just a few loaves and fish, and declaring his ability to move mountains into the sea. We know God can easily cure a physical drought, but sometimes our souls need a drought to show us our need for repentance.
Mark Hall of Casting Crowns wrote Praise You in the Storm as a reminder that God is with us in the midst of life’s storms.
I’m also thankful for Scott Kripayne’s reminder that Sometimes God Calms the Storm and Other Times He Calms His Child.
These songs bring comfort in the midst of life’s inevitable storms, but sometimes we don’t need relief. God sends some storms to get our attention. I wonder if that is the case right now? I think my friend may be right: “Let’s not pray for rain, but let’s pray that he will REIGN over our hearts.”
It may seem insensitive to tell those who’ve experienced life-shattering disasters that God is using this to get their attention, but you should take that up with God. He’s the one who sends the rain and calamity alike.
He’s also the one who declared that we all deserve eternal judgment. Were it not for Jesus, we should all be wiped out. Instead, Jesus endured the fury of God’s wrath so we might receive mercy and restored fellowship with God. Because Jesus died and rose again, there is no storm that can take us from the Father’s secure hands.
How do you respond to the current disasters? In faith or fear?
A friend of mine pointed out yesterday that this post underemphasized my heart’s desire to come alongside those who are in the midst of a drought. Yes, God is calling to to pray for his REIGN to be revealed in our lives and across the globe, but he also wants us to pray for rain. He shows his sovereignty and grace by providing for our daily needs. I am certainly praying that God will send rain to Kansas, but while I wait, I’m also praying that he reveal his Kingdom.