“Sweet, Summer Rain,” is a phrase that is so much more than a quote from a southern movie. It’s a real occurrence. It cools the parched ground. It soaks the flowers. It gives new life.
There’s one fact that I’ve known since childhood. There are hot days in Mississippi. Anyone who has ever taken a trip toward the Gulf of Mexico, via Mississippi, has felt the ‘sauna effect.’ It’s at its worst in August.
Having left my hometown 19 years ago, I return as often as I can. I observed something on a recent visit that I had forgotten. It was on one of those particularly hot days that an afternoon thunderstorm arose. I had declared it to be over 1000 degrees that day at least three times. I was sitting in the living room in my families’ house and noticed a darkening across the lawn. It was so alluring that I found myself walking to the door to check the sky.
The wind arrived first. I could feel a sense of anticipation as the branches whipped about. A few drops began to cover the sidewalks, soon white sheets of rain were sweeping the hot pavement in front of the house.
I couldn’t resist any longer.
I stepped out onto the porch and took a seat on the green bench lining the front of the house. The rain came so fast it spilled over the gutters and splashed onto the flowerbed near my feet. I could feel the difference in the climate immediately. I had forgotten (from all those years in the Northwest Territories) that the rain lures people from their air-conditioned homes in the South out into the open air. I had forgotten how the cooling rain reached places that couldn’t be seen.
Across the street, a garage door went flying upward. A little girl popped out of the dark hole wearing bright red rain boots. I watched as she jumped up and down in the puddles quickly forming in her driveway. The mother stood with both hands on her hips gazing across the sky. Soon another group of teens poured out of the house down the street. Three young guys ran around in the rain like little children playing tag. The entire neighborhood was waking up again. The heat had driven everyone inside, but the sweet, summer rain was drawing them out again to explore and enjoy the world.
Summers in the Deep South can be brutal. There are times you don’t feel like you can even breathe. Life is that way too. We get beat down to the point of wishing for some sort of escape. Life causes us to guard our hearts and put up walls so that others can’t hurt us.
Like an air-conditioned house on a humid day in Mississippi, we find refuge by withdrawing from the heat or threats around us. God’s refreshing rain of the Holy Spirit, draws us out to Him. When we drink from His well, we never thirst again. We are then able to reach out to the other hurting people around us.
Next time you see someone stepping out into an afternoon rain shower, remember this, God wants to refresh you from the inside out.