There was no rain that day. There had been no rain for at least a week. Yet there I walked dignified through the mall, trying to pretend like I wasn’t leaving the unmistakable trail of water behind me. Trying to pretend like my clothes were supposed to look darker than usual, hang a little funny, and appear wet-- new fashion? Yes, a glorious moment, made slightly more glorious by the fact that, with witnesses, I had just stepped off of a ledge into a pond next to the mall trying to blaze my own shortcut back to my bike through a way I had never gone before... On a dark night when the wind wasn’t providing the pond with any waves as warning, it looked just like a walkway. Exiting through a shortcut was necessary because I was running late to a karaoke night (it's true...) held in a ministry-run coffee shop in the red light area I have been frequenting each week to help teach some young friends of ours who sell roses at night. I had only stopped in the building to use the bathroom. Those are my excuses. My plunge into the knee-deep pond that caught me so off guard and soaked me up to my head had further irony: the only thing I was carrying were a couple paper towels I had collected on my way out so that if I arrived at the coffee shop sweaty from biking over, I would be able to dry myself off a bit, look more respectable. They did nothing for me. I'm sure I made several people's days by taking that plunge, and I certainly made mine-- laughing to myself the whole way out of the building afterwards (further reinforcing the crazy foreigner stereotype).
When I met up with my friends after getting back to my bike and heading to the coffee shop, I was still soaked. I couldn’t wait to tell them why I was so wet—to get to laugh with them at my failed unintentional attempt at walking on water. I found there is nothing quite like pushing through busy streets, sitting in a coffee shop, and singing karaoke (some good ol' Lion King-- Zazuu sounded especially hornbillish that night) in front of a small crowd when your entire outfit is telling the story of absent weather.
God has been putting rain on my heart lately. This is tied to expectancy, to faith, to hope. I recently finished the book “Tread Upon the Lion” by Sophie DeHaye about a pioneering missionary to Nigeria, Tommie Titcombe. Tommie shares about a time when they had no rain in the land for a long time— food was scarce for everyone. Finally, each religious sect started performing rituals to bring the rain. The animists performing ceremonies and sacrifices to appease the spirits, the Muslims calling out to Allah, everyone pouring everything they had into cries that they hoped would reach the ears of a god who cared and could answer. No rain. Finally, the believers in the village decided that they should hold a prayer service and make an appeal to God on behalf of their community. When the appointed time came, amidst the ridicule of their neighbors, the believers all showed up to the service wearing their umbrella hats in expectation of the coming rain! As they started praying, drops from the sky started falling. Louder and louder the noise became, drowning out the voices of the worshipping believers. They had come before God with assurance that He would hear them and answer. What faith! I am very challenged by this story, by their simple trust that God would provide. While His faithfulness is not shackled to answering our prayers the way we expect, He does love us and will not forsake us (2 Timothy 2:13 says though we are faithless, He will remain faithful—it is in His immutable nature).
Which brings me back to my story of falling into mall ponds. I’ve been thinking about what it looks like for us to share God’s love with people who have never known how to perceive it for themselves. People who feel as if they have never been loved, especially by God. Sometimes all we can do is sit with someone and hear them. Not try to offer answers and solutions, but when they ask, relay the message to those living in drought that rain exists. We can share the account of why we are drenched in dry season. Maybe walking wet through crowds of people isn’t so bad after all (but seriously-- go try it!). Wearing an umbrella hat with no clouds in the sky likewise shares a story, and an expectation of the seemingly impossible. I have been praying that I will wear my umbrella hat each day, going in faith that God hears His people’s cries—no matter how hopeless a situation may appear. Social injustice is overwhelming. And yet, God sees and sends His rain in His own time and way; He has been faithful before and He will be faithful again.