The weekend of July 18 & 19, 2015 will forever be remembered as an extraordinary display of God’s abundant love, power and faithfulness in my life. In a dry and weary land where there is no water, the Lord poured out abundant water. An unprecedented tropical storm swept through Southern California and over the course of the weekend poured out over three inches of rain (estimated). Being born and raised in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, the thunder and lightning and downpour of percussive rain put me in a nostalgic bliss. The smells, the sounds, the sight and the feeling of rain pouring down from heaven are a memorial of God’s faithfulness to me, heightening my senses to his presence and power.*
Saturday was an eight-hour travel day as I drove my family home from a week at Mount Hermon, near Santa Cruz, CA. The luscious redwood forest and refreshing cool temperatures represented the sweet refreshment that we received that week. Driving home was bitter sweet as we knew we were headed back to hot, dry, brown SoCal. As Julie and I reflected and planned some action points from our week of camp, God had a surprise for us. We hit some thunder and lightning and a few showers as we drove Highway 46 away from the green coast into the golden brown hills and back to the hot Central Valley. As we climbed the Grapevine on I-5 it began to rain, and it rained hard for the remainder of our two hour drive home to Redlands. It rained even harder yesterday as we unpacked, cleaned up and settled back into life at home. I drifted off to sleep last night to the sound of rain and an occasional splash on my face through the open window above our bed.
Reading through the Chronological Bible this year, I find myself in Isaiah 44 this morning, and this is what I read:
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.”” (Isaiah 44:3–5 ESV).
God is speaking to his chosen people who have failed miserably to honor him. While they have been unfaithful, he declares his faithfulness. While they have become “weary of [him]” (Isaiah 43:22), he does not grow weary of them. He relentlessly invites personal relationship. This passage declares what we call the New Covenant, referring to the coming of Christ to forgive sins and the Holy Spirit to empower the church to be a witness for Christ. The New Covenant is what makes a thriving, growing relationship with God possible. It’s grace: God’s loving initiative to bring us near to him.
I love that God’s analogy for pouring out his Spirit is abundant, refreshing, powerful water being poured out on the thirsty land. While a lot could be uncovered in this passage, I don’t want to miss the main thing here, found in verse 5. What is the result of the pouring out of his Spirit? We will be certain of our identity as belonging to the Lord. “One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’ …. another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s.’” (verse 5). This identity is the foundation of the Christian life. In a Facebook world that is so concerned with who I am, my profile and my status, we’ve got it all wrong. On the contrary, everything flows out of knowing whose I am. If I were to get a tattoo this would be it: “The Lord’s,” on the back of my right hand. Every time I look down, I would be reminded not of who I am, but whose I am. I am his and he is mine. Rain reminds me of this and that’s why I can never get enough of it!
One might ask, “How does one belong to the Lord?” It’s simple. You come to Jesus and drink. You believe. “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit[.]” (John 7:37–39 ESV). Like a downpour of tropical rain, the Lord pours out his Spirit, not on, but notice this, abundantly into the hearts of all who come to Jesus and believe. The result is that you can know for certain that you belong to him. You can join me in joyfully and confidently declaring, “I am the Lord’s!”
*The catalyst for this blog was Richard Dahlstrom’s teaching last week at Mount Hermon from the book of Joshua: God’s Better Land. Among other things, he encouraged me to memorialize God’s faithfulness and reminded me that whose I am is more important than who I am. The rain coupled with the Isaiah passage is just driving the point home, reminding me that God speaks through his Word and through his servants. Thanks, Richard for being God’s faithful servant and using your gift of teaching to build up the body of Christ.