Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rain, Renewal, and Reason

How long has it been since we have had a rainy day that lasted all day long in Texas?  Hmmmm, it has been so long that I cannot recall such a day.  I remember one about three years ago.  It happened in April and we were visiting my mother and having a picnic at a park because her sister from Florida was visiting her.  My brother and his family were there as were my cousin and her family.  Our daughter did not go with us but she was at our house keeping watch over our animals.  About mid-day, she called us and told us to be careful coming home because there was a huge thunderstorm happening and the streets were already flooding in Houston and in the Weimar area.  We would have to travel  home through Houston so she wanted to be sure we knew that a big storm was going on even though it was not currently raining where the picnic was happening over toward the Louisiana state line.  We finished with the picnic and began our drive home, which usually takes about 3 hrs to complete.  When we were just about in the Houston vicinity, suddenly the rain began falling so hard that we could barely see in front of our car.  It rained just like that all the way through Houston, with cars slowing down to about 40 mph, and then all the way home, 75 miles west of Houston.  It rained off and on all the rest of the day and into the night.  The rain total after all ended was over 14 inches of rain in one day. 

We encountered a similar situation in Boston just a few weeks ago when we were ready to fly home from our vacation we had in the northeast.  It was raining so hard that I could barely see in front of the rental car we were driving so we made our way to the airport and turned in the car so we would not be at risk of an accident in it.  We had to sit for 3 hours in the airport waiting for our flight but we were glad to be out of that car and the traffic that was creeping through that rain.  I asked my wife that day, "How long has it been since we had a rainy day like this back home?"  I guess the answer would be three years ago.  Of course, I have a short memory, we may have had a huge rainy day 2 years ago but I cannot remember. 

There are signs on churches and businesses all over Texas urging people to pray for rain.  Our illustrious governor organized a huge prayer rally in the big stadium in Houston this past summer and prayed for rain and it is drier now than it was before he and his buddies prayed.  We have prayed for rain as have countless other churches and the sky still is as beautiful every day as it has been for many months now.  I had one person ask me why God does not grant our request for rain since we are praying so much for rain and the only answer I could come up with is, "I don't know."  That seems to be a reasonable answer in the face of insurmountable issues. 

I think the lack of rain goes into the same category with questions about why God allows evil to happen to good people or why God cannot prevent huge tragedies from occuring or why God cannot stop a tornado from hitting a town and killing countless people or why God cannot stop a wildfire from burning up over a thousand homes.  Doesn't God love us anymore?  Can't God hear any longer?  Has God become immune to our pleas and does not care any longer what happens to us? 

I think that God's love is as real as it has ever been and that God is not involved in bringing about any thing that could do us harm.  That is not the kind of God that I believe in.  I do believe that God allows humans to make choices freely and that our choices come with consequences.  When we make choices, we choose the consequences that go along with the choices.  Rain is part of the creation that God put in place when the world began.  God has not cancelled that out, obviously, because there are people in the northeast US who cannot turn the rain off.  They wish they could pump some of it down south where we are and share it with us.  God did not arrange for El Nino or La Nina to be part of the natural order--it just happens.  We do not know why it happens but it does and we have to live with it.  When the cycle changes that is now in place, the rain will come again and we will be happy once more. 

One thing that many people do not consider, however, is what we humans have been doing to the planet that may be having an effect on the weather patterns.  We are pumping lots of things into our environment that may have an effect on the sky and the clouds and the weather.  We drive millions of cars and run millions of air conditioners and have paved over many places where grass once grew and cut down many trees that once stood and who knows if all that could have an effect on our climate.  I know that there are politicians who do not believe in global warming for whatever reason and I am not writing this to convince anyone to believe or disbelieve that idea but I do think that we humans have changed the planet so much in the last 100 years that it looks very different than it did before that time period.  Maybe weather responds to what we do to the earth since the earth is a living organism and we are living beings on it. 

We can make changes to modify our negative actions such as driving less or running the air conditioner less or planting grass and trees once we have rainfall again.  We can try to look upon this planet as our home and not pollute and destroy it.  We are stewards and caretakers of the planet and we are in charge of it but we are the ones to decide what will be its future.  As we decide for the earth, we also decide for ourselves and for future generations.  We can pray for rain all we want and God is listening and cares but if we do something to prevent rain from falling, God cannot reverse what we humans have done to make things the way they are.  Perhaps God wants us to be the ones to bring about positive change so that the earth will be the place that God intended it to be. 

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