Sunday, January 28, 2007

“Showers of blessing”

I’m intrigued by the Scripture’s depiction of God’s Spirit as water or rain being “poured out” upon God’s people. Just look at these texts:

Proverbs 1:23
“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I [wisdom] will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”

Ezekiel 39:29
“And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”

Joel 2:28-29
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

Acts 2:33
“Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”

Acts 10:44-45
“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.”
Surely this expression, “pour out my Spirit”, is meant to convey the idea that the reception of the Holy Spirit into the human soul is a refreshing, cleansing, life-giving effusion. Like a mighty downpour of rain in a drought-plagued land, like a drink of cool water on a hot summer day, so is the Spirit of God to a dry and thirsty soul.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh
faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

Are you thirsty for God Himself?

I’ve also been going down “memory lane”, thinking about some of the hymns from my past church life. I hardly ever hear these hymns anymore (unless I’m playing them on the piano for myself and singing them at home). Many of these old gospel hymns are hopelessly dated, I know; yet, they address important aspects of spiritual life not often addressed in the Christian songs of today, such as spiritual revival or renewal. The following two 19th century gospel hymns use the biblical metaphor of “showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26 KJV; context Ezekiel 34:25-31), to describe this “pouring out” of God’s Spirit that I’m talking about:

“There Shall Be Showers of Blessing” by Maj. Daniel W. Whittle (1840-1901)
“There shall be showers of blessing”:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

“There shall be showers of blessing”,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

“There shall be showers of blessing”:
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

“There shall be showers of blessing”:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

“Lord, I Hear of Showers of Blessing” by Elizabeth Conder (1824-1919)
Lord, I hear of showers of blessing,
Thou art scattering full and free;
Showers the thirsty land refreshing;
Let some drops now fall on me.

Pass me not, O God, our Father!
Sinful though my heart may be;
Thou mightst curse me, but the rather,
Let Thy mercy light on me.

Pass me not, O gracious Saviour,
Let me live and cling to Thee;
For I’m longing for Thy favor;
Whilst Thou art calling, O call me.

Pass me not, O mighty Spirit,
Thou canst make the blind to see;
Witnesser of Jesus’ merit,
Speak some word of power to me.

Love of God, so pure and changeless,
Blood of Christ, so rich, so free;
Grace of God, so strong and boundless;
Magnify it all in me.

(And, I like how the late Roberta Martin re-worked the refrain)
Even me, Lord, even me.
Even me, Lord, even me.
Let some drops now fall on me.

These hymns convey my personal desire and prayer:

Lord, pour out your Spirit upon “even me”;
Send down “showers of blessing” upon my dry and thirsty soul;
Pour out your Spirit in power upon my soul (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8);
Cause the life-giving rivers to flow (John 7:37-39)!

Is it right to pray this way? Yes, it is! Most certainly it is! Jesus gave His people the right to pray this way (Luke 11:13). I refuse to satisfy myself with a dry, cold, merely intellectual faith—theologically correct, but dry as dust, powerless, dead and deadly! No, no, no! I want to know by experience the life-giving “showers”!

I hope you’re not afraid of the word “experience”. God means for us to experience these things—not just theologize and philosophize about them, but to experience their reality in our lives.

“Even me, Lord!”

1 comment:

Andrew Chapman said...

"I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring." Isaiah 44 v 4.

During the revival in the Hebrides, Scotland in about 1949, a church elder laid hold of God on the basis of this promise, confessing himself as being a man thirsty for God's Spirit, and challenged God to vindicate His word and fulfill His promise. For what happened next, see the last main para of