Worship As Rain
Published May 23, 2012 @ 6 a.m.
I like to grow things. I love to grow things to eat, especially. I am not a master gardener by any stretch of the imagination. In our backyard there is a triangular area about six feet deep and about twelve feet wide. There we are growing cilantro, spinach, tomatoes, basil, zinnias and a host of plants I don’t actually remember. I planted them, I think, and they are beautiful flowers. But I just don’t remember what they are. However, there are a few things I do know about growing things.
One of the main things I know about growing things is that everything needs water. While you may be able to overwater houseplants it is difficult to overwater things in the field. I remember an irrigation farmer telling me once that unless it rained so much that water was standing in the rows over a long period of time it simply paid to keep the wells running. When harvest came the yields were much better in those fields where the irrigation was left running than what yields were in those crops where the irrigation had been stopped during periods of rain. Except for a flood, the more water plants receive the better they yield.
Last year during the most extreme part of the drought many of my garden plants looked good. The black-eyed peas made big bushy plants and the okra grew like it always does. Yes, I had to water but I limited the water for practical reasons. The plants looked good but the yields were not anything like the year before when we had had so much rain. In fact, I would guess the yields were down by half. Plus, you could tell that the vegetables did not taste quite as juicy either. I talked to many people around and discovered that almost everyone had beautiful tomato plants but no one had very good tomatoes. The difference was simply in the amount of water the plants had received. There is only so much irrigation can do.
In our spiritual lives the rain we receive is worship. Without worship we become spiritually dead. Most people who call themselves Christians are not without worship. But many limit the amount of worship that they do. After all, it is difficult to tell the difference in our lives if we skip a Sunday or two and soon it is three or four. We tell ourselves that we can worship as well in a boat on the lake as we can in church on Sunday. And we can worship in a boat on the lake. But it is like using city water to replace rain. There is just so much such irrigation can do. And the truth is, most of us are not really spending a lot of time thinking about God when we are out on a lake fishing or water skiing. It just isn’t the same as real worship with God’s people.
What we begin to find is that the plants still look good. But the fruit of our lives begins to take a hit. How we think, how we handle our problems, how we treat others, and how we set our priorities all begin to become more problematic. The leaves still look good. But the plant is really not very healthy. The problem is that by the time we notice that there is a problem we are often in such poor spiritual health we just don’t see that the root of our problem is our lack of worship. In fact, generally speaking, it is almost always somebody else who is at fault.
In John 4 we read of an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. We have often read this passage and we know that the woman is living in sin. We know that both her physical life and spiritual life are problematic at best. We are aware that Jesus offers this woman living water and that Jesus (or the Holy Spirit depending on the interpreter) is the living water. What we often miss is that the whole conversation turns on a discussion of worship. To be in the presence of Jesus Christ is to worship. And it is the presence of Jesus Christ that brings us life. We need worship like a plant needs the rain.