One thing is certain in the Christian life, especially in ministry. Spiritual battles are imminent. The Bible prepares us for battle over and over again, warning to us to be on guard against such attacks.
As a young woman, a good friend of mine told me, when you are in the midst of battle and you can’t even think clearly to pray, just say His name. Just say “Jesus”, over and over again if you have to.
My go to has been the song I learned as a child, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s just something about that name. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Like the fragrance, after the rain.”
Every time I feel that pressure, and I feel myself slipping into the enemy’s hands with fear, worry, or defeat, I sing that song. Paul and Silas sang in the prison. God’s people met their enemies with song. Singing helps me focus on Jesus instead of what is making me feel anxious and fearful, and that song repeats His Name so perfectly. I only wish it said,
“… But there is power in that Name,” instead. Because we all know, it’s not just something. It’s power. His name is powerful.
I have sung that song when I feel afraid for as long as I can remember, back to a wee three-year-old. I was sitting in my dad’s apartment playing with a tape recorder and singing into it. I remember singing that song over and over again, recording my voice and then listening. More than anything I remember thinking, “Where did I learn this song?” The name of Jesus was in my heart, bursting forth as if it had been placed there long before my birth.
Later, as I grew, that phrase, “… like the fragrance, after the rain…” conjured all kinds of comforting and meaningful images for me.
My grandfather was a farmer in west Texas, and I spent my summers with him and my grandmother. Rain is everything to a farmer, but even more so to the farmer in the dry, arid climate of west Texas. When my grandmother would buy me new shoes, as she always did, he’d say to me, “You got your new shoes, now you bring us the rain.”
When an summer storm would form around us, he’d move outside for the show he’d been anxiously waiting. I imagined it delighted his soul to have a front row seat as God sent nourishment that would provide for him and his family. Under the protection of our porch awning, he’d sit on the ornate, iron bench that was quite nice to look at, but not comfortable for sitting in the least. it was one of those pretty things he had bought for his bride, to make her happy as husbands often do. I can only imagine he tolerated that unbearable seat because the joy of feeling the spray carried by the wind to his cheek, surpassed the pain of the hardened bench.
I’d join him on that cold, hard seat and scoot as close to his side as I could manage, all while we watched the droplets fall in a magnitude that would only be fitting for Texas. The warm, summer air would swirl around us mixed with the cool wet air, and, with his legs crossed, he would begin to tap his heel and toe back and forth. That was the sign of an inner excitement, one he kept in line and under control with every fiber of his being except that one foot. I knew he was holding in his excitement when his foot started rocking back and forth, just as it did when he met Terry Bradshaw, or on Christmas morning.
He’d snuggle me close to keep me warm as the droplets turned to a downpour and back to droplets again. Taking in a deep breath I asked, “Why does rain smell like that?”
My grandfather may have been a simple farmer, but he was intelligent as well.
“That’s the dirt mixing with the rain, and the lightening leaves a smell in the air too. It changes the charge of the particles in the air and that gives off a distinct smell.”
Although I was too young to understand, I didn’t mind. I was confused how dirt and water could smell so sweet and so comforting at the same time. I wanted to experience that smell all the time, that fragrance after the rain, but I knew the rain wouldn’t last and the drought would return, until the next summer rain graced us with its fragrance.
I am not young anymore. Neither am I old. I would say I am midway through life. If I live another 40 years, I will be grateful. As I reminisce over the years, I can’t help but wonder at the events that have shaped, not just the course of this life, but who I am as a person. I wonder mostly if, when I speak of such extraordinary events to other people, do they question whether all these stories were true or if I am just a fantastical story teller? It seems odd that I have experienced many more extraordinary events than what one is entitled in one lifetime. Yet. It’s all true.
The seasons of rain have been frequent. The seasons of unbearable- attempts to tear me to pieces- storms, have been numerous.
In all those years, the one lesson I have learned is patience. When the rain comes, the safest place to reside is next to God, the Father, under his protection, snuggled closed to his side, I must sit and wait for the sweet fragrance that follows after the rain.