This morning I thought today was the last day of September. So, I opened my favorite almanac (The I Hate to Cook ALMANACK: A Book of Days, by Peg Bracken) and I read her closing rhyme, thinking it timely:
Thirty days hath September,
Thirty shining beads.
Thirty days hath September.
Actually, that’s all it needs.
But the time had passed; today is October 1,2011. I should have known September was gone when I went out for the papers, for the refreshing, almost bracing, morning air had no hint of heat.
If I were in Maryland, by October 1 I would have sorted and packed my summer togs, and shaken out warmer clothes. This exercise usually assured a few more weeks of warm temperatures – just as changing from winter to spring clothes is a more reliable prognosticator of wintery days than the groundhog seeing his shadow is of a longer winter. But, I am 1,500 miles south and west of the Mason-Dixon line, and we have many warm days in October – usually in the mid-eighties with cheery sun. Given the serious drought we have, though, maybe I should pack away the raincoats?
Some encouraging soul predicts that drought in Texas could continue until 2020. Months ago the governor urged Texans to pray to pray for rain; how much more do we need God to shower us with steady, gentle spiritual rain?
Feeling thirst, worrying about the consequences of drought may be God reminding His people we don’t have because we haven’t truly asked. (James 4) So, if secular rulers ask for prayer, I pray! How much more should the church urge herself to pray? (2 Chronicles 7:11-22) And many are! But still no relief is in the forecast.
Our natural problems are affecting the whole country – much the way the church’s failures harm even those who are unchurched, hiding the light with which God entrusted us, and we all stumble. (Isaiah 1) I don’t know why this section of the country – part of the “Bible Belt”– is so literally and perilously parched – for we surely have deep wells of sound preaching! But, I know that being thirsty for righteousness, according to Christ, is a blessing -- for those will be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6) And I know many hungry, thirsty people! How’s our prayer life?
Maybe we have misplaced – or misused – our belt in our prayers?
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14, New Living Translation)
Maybe God wants us to look in the mirror, when we pray and examine how we are dressed, (James 2; 1 Timothy 2, esp. 8-10) while there is time. Not just the churches in the Bible Belt – but all over. What are we missing; what is askew? Ask God – who gives generously and without reproach, while there is time. (Ask, seek, knock; get wisdom; wise and foolish virgins)
And if those rains are slow coming– God grant that you and I remember and believe Habakkuk’s prayer and declaration:
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,and there are no grapes on the vines;even though the olive crop fails,and the fields lie empty and barren;even though the flocks die in the fields,and the cattle barns are empty,yet I will rejoice in the Lord!I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!The Sovereign Lord is my strength!He makes me as surefooted as a deer,able to tread upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)