Last weekend I was cutting my grass between showers. Because it had been raining, the grass was damp, and soon after I had finished it began to rain again. The smell from the newly-mown grass was wonderful, all the more so because of the rain, and it reminded me of the verse that says, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” (Psalm 72.6).
It set me thinking. When the rain falls and waters the earth it brings a lovely, earthy scent with it. When it falls on newly mown grass, the scent has an extra sweetness and richness about it. The presence of God, which is often symbolised in Scripture by rain, always brings refreshing and newness of life. But when we have been through harrowing experiences and feel as if we have been mown down, somehow the sweetness of the rain of God’s Spirit in our lives is all the greater.
Sometimes the rain naturally falls and waters everything. At such times, gardening is effortless! But at other times we have to seek out a source to give the land the water it needs. I have an outside tap which I seldom use because my rain-butt collects most of the water I need for my garden. But either way, I have to get out there and water it myself. I have to carry my watering can to where the water is, and then bring it back to the plants.
Of course God is omnipresent; there is never a moment when I’m not in His presence. But somehow He doesn’t always seem immanent. Sometimes that’s my own fault – the result of neglecting fellowship with Him. At other times, maybe He withdraws His felt presence so that I will seek Him with a new urgency. There are times when the sense of His presence just pours into my life unbidden. And there are other times when I have to go and put myself in the place where the water is, so to speak – to sit by the well; to find where the waterfall is and stand in the spray.
This coming week I’m going to do just that. I’m off to shut myself away to write the second draft of a book I wrote between September and April. But I know that my first need is to seek out God’s presence and gaze at Him, allowing His presence to transform me into His likeness. Until I do that, I have nothing worthwhile to write.