A Paradigm Shift

by Amos Allen, Asheboro, NC

It was sometime in March of 1984 and the evening sky had been cloudy. During the night we heard the distinctive pitter-patter of rain on a dry, grass roof.

The roof was not in good shape. (The family was poor and, besides, there had been no rain for the past five months.) We were sleeping on the floor of a mud hut after preaching in the community where we wanted to start a church. Staying overnight helped me learn language and customs, and the relaxed evenings broke down barriers between us all.

As the rain fell on and through the roof we all woke up. I kept waiting to see how the holes would be plugged, but the Kenyans simply moved to drier spots in the room.

The next morning revealed a happy household. The rain signaled the end of the dry season which was good news to a farming community. They even had a saying about visitors bringing a blessing of rain, but I didn't understand or care. I thought the roof needed to be given more attention. Didn't they realize a leaky roof is a serious thing?

More than once while standing in the open air talking to a Kenyan, it would start to drizzle and I would begin to move toward shelter. I noticed that the Kenyans didn't share my haste. Unless it really came a downpour, they would continue to stand there enjoying the cool drops. I assumed they didn't have the sense to come in out of the rain. I eventually learned to wait (and receive the blessing) with them and to move out of the way with them so the ground could get its share.

My view of rain had been that it was a "necessary evil." I even interpreted Jesus' words about good and bad people getting rained on as a negative thing ( Matthew 5:45).

How many things do we see one way but start realizing that God sees it differently? What do most people say about giving and receiving, treatment of enemies, protecting rights, sickness, death and rules?

Most of us know what the Lord teaches, but we find it convenient to soften or ignore even direct commands. We have either decided that we know better than He does, or else we have chosen not to trust.

Earlier this week it rained in our town for several hours. At times it pelted us with a vengeance and then would relax into a gentle shower. I watched it from a window and from under a tree. I listened to it from my bed and from the porch. It took me years to learn to enjoy rather than despise the rain.

I guess it will take a long time to appreciate the opportunity to give, to be thankful for God's rules, to rejoice when suffering and sickness strike and to enjoy relinquishing rights on behalf of another.

Maybe if we weren't so resistant we could change more quickly and gain the advantage of being like Christ. What if I had been taught from birth to welcome sickness for what it could teach me? What if persecution had been regarded as something to be expected rather than avoided at all costs? I know--it sounds extreme.

Thankfully I now have enough sense to not rush in out of the rain. I can enjoy it like a farmer does. I do wonder, though, when I will have enough maturity to not run away from every inconvenience or difficult situation.

There's a lot to be said for seeing things from another angle.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, SepOct98.