Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Rainy Afternoons, Reused Tea Bags, and Rachel
Rainy days always give me cause for rejoicing. As much as I love blue skies and sunshine, there is something that draws me about the pattering of droplets against my bedroom window. Running and splashing in puddles, little droplets on the leaves and grass, windshield wipers going "swish" (ior, as in the case of those on my car, "squeeeeek"), and that wondrous smell which envelopes all of nature the day after ~ just a few of the many things I find special about rain.
However, my least favorite thing about rain is its faithful partner - gray clouds. (An aside: In the car on my way to my 9 o'clock class this morning, I was quite gloomy, and thinking how ironic it was that the weather outside mirrored my mood so well. Mum, Abby, and I have recently been learning about joy though, so I banished the gloominess by singing. Might I add that if anyone had been in the car with me, this probably would have added to the miserable state of their morning. I got through "It's a Happy Day", "How Deep the Father's Love for Us", and "Blessed Assurance", and that helped me to enter class with a smile on my face. Which was soon wiped off after sitting through a speech on "how to feed a pet snake", using a live mouse to demonstrate. *shudder*)
The joint efforts of clouds and rain make me think of my own struggle to find joy throughout the day. Often, I must deal with the clouds and gloominess that come along in order to find that joy and peace the Father offers. Sometimes, this joy and peace are not obvious ~ sunshine and blue skies are wonderful, but the real challenge is rejoicing in the clouds. For without clouds, how could we receive rain? Similarly, how could we ever begin to appreciate God's holiness and love and power if our circumstances on earth were not so terribly bleak? The reason we can know Him and His wondrous ways is because we know of the alternative ~ and we love the rain because of those gray clouds looming about us.
Rain generally inspires me to drink tea, and lots of it. I've always been the ultimate cheap-skate (more graciously known as "thrifty), and reused tea-bags, often more than once. They always look so glum, huddled up in a little lump wherever I happened to place them the evening before. And then, "Plop" ~into the hot water they go! Suddenly, they appear almost fresh! Dark juice pours out of them and slowly mixes with the clear water, and the herbal aromas float up, conjuring thoughts of orchards, sitting before a warm fire, and country gardens. And all that happens simply by placing them in the hot water.
On those days when I am feeling glum, lumpy, and slightly useless or forgotten, it can take getting into some "hot water" to make me feel fresh again. As a problem, or new challenge comes, it helps point me to Who the Source of my joy is. Joy has nothing to do with how I look or feel at that particular moment. It has everything to do with my Savior and the knowledge of what He has done and continues to do for me.
I've been thinking about Rachel from the Old Testament a lot. (Her story can be found throughout chapters 29-48 of Genesis) If you recall, she had her share of trials and gloomy days. After waiting seven years to marry Jacob, her father gave her sister Leah to him instead! And then, because Jacob favored her above Leah, she sat by for many years and watched Leah, and their servants Bilhah and Zilpah bear many children while she was barren. But I suspect that these things made her even more grateful for the good days. Her son Joseph must have been such a joy to her! She said, "God has taken away my disgrace.", and the name Joseph means "Jehovah increases" ~ Rachel knew the source of her joy.
So today, as you join me in looking at those gray clouds, try to find the hidden joy in your circumstances. It may not be glaringly obvious, but more subtle. . . just like the gentle rain.