Rain on a Playground

FoggDam-NT

“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”- Psalm 145: 15-16

Heat and humidity characterize any place south of the Mason-Dixon line, and this past summer was no exception. During a week-long missions trip to Cherokee, North Carolina, our team took on a mulching job at a daycare, spending some hours during each day to spread a mountain (literally) of mulch over the building’s various areas. During one such day, a couple of students and I were confined to their playground, building up inches of mulch, one wheelbarrow-full at a time. Now, I’m a pretty lazy and weak outdoor worker, and I hate humidity and heat, but, while nothing like the tropics and/or the other various, horribly humid places of the world, this day felt like the sun was holding a magnifying glass in front of itself to concentrate its rays on our little Cherokee playground. The students and I had already taken our second, third, and forth showers as the moisture in the air continually stuck to our bodies. At one point during the day, we looked up to the distant North Carolina mountains and noticed a gathering darkness of clouds which hovered over their peaks. In a moment, these clouds dropped their cool rain on the sides of the mountains, covering the mountains’ hot, green trees in a bath of fresh rain. It was a beautiful sight, but it became more wonderful as the rain moved in our direction. We watched the sheet as it was pulled over the far-off mountains toward us as one would unroll a pie crust over the top of a pie. The wall drew nearer until it fell upon us, instantly refreshing, instantly satisfying us.

It was a glorious moment to realize the satisfying and sustaining activity of God in behalf of His creation! The Psalmist tells us that the gaze of all creation is turned heavenwards in eager expectation of nourishment. The “eyes” of all creation continually look to Him (v. 15). And He does not disappoint. He pours out rain, He dries it up, He distributes food, and He looks after His creation with tender and careful care. In “due season”, he answers the expectation of His creation with provision (v. 15). This “due season” implies times when the creation may wonder where their Sustainer and Satisfier is. Not only the ants and the birds, but us humans as well, wonder, at times, where there the Provider is. And yet He always answers. He answers by opening “his hand” (v. 16). Isn’t it ironic that we look for sustenance and satisfaction in anything but the hand of God? We look to His creation for these provisions, but the creation is looking to and for Him! Most of us turn to people for the provision only God can provide. We expect from them nourishment and sustenance in their acceptance, in their approval, in their love. We also turn to our vacations, our jobs, our grades, our clothes, our houses, and our quick rides to work with no traffic, among a myriad of other things, for the gifts only He can provide; we look for Him in places other than Him. But where can we find God but in God Himself? All good things flow from His hand, because He is the ultimate Good God. And, in this way, He Himself is the object of our greatest desire and our greatest need (v. 16).

The Scriptures concentrate this divine activity of sustaining and satisfying in the person of the Son. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Christ “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power,”; all things, including God-hating people, owe their breath to God’s sustaining power distilled in the person of Christ. “All things were made” through Christ, and “without him was not any thing made that was made,” (John 1:3). We can, and should, all say with David that “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me,” (Psalm 3:5). Again, the irony here is jarring. When we crucified the Son, we crucified the very One who sustains us. The words, “Crucify Him,” (Mark 15:13) were only possible because He upheld the life of the ones shouting them out. Not only does Christ, though, uphold all things in a general way, He is also the salvific sustenance given to His people. In this special way, He is their bread and water, their life and breath. In Him they are made new, and in Him they exist. He is the believer’s peculiar sustenance in a way which is foreign to the unbeliever. Is this not an implication of the Lord’s supper? Whatever you believe about the physical presence or lack thereof in the sacrament, His words penetrate into our hearts as we eat, “‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,'” (Mark 26:26-28).

In light of this, Psalm 145 gains new meaning for us. Christ is the general provider of all things, and He is also that which is specifically provided for His people. But surely this sustaining and satisfying Christ is not centered around us! No, the end goal of His provision are the words which end this Psalm, “My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever,” (v.21). Creation receives nourishment for the purpose of giving glory to Him. We receive that we might give. We are sustained that we may worship. The small moment of refreshment on a Cherokee playground is a micro-example of what happens everyday on a macro level. I pray that every time it rains my thoughts will be lifted heavenwards to be reminded of the care and provision of our Lord and Savior and to be reminded of my ultimate purpose: to give glory, in the midst of refreshment, immediately back to Him.

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