I wrote in my last posting that the high pressure ridge keeping precipitation from the state hovered over us sixteen months and counting. As the good rains of March and April came about, that ridge began to disperse; it reappears, but for more natural spans, since a large cross-section of the Body of Christ has begun a particular process of sustained prayer and repentance over the state.
The Rain and Reign Coalition is a gathering of some thirty-five California ministries agreeing with each other to pray repentance – understood as a re-focus of attention on God and His Kingdom – on behalf of ourselves and the state we love. That re-focus includes renunciation of California’s historic sins. We renounce shedding of innocent blood – from the unborn to Native peoples to victims of gang violence – and the idolatry of human ingenuity without reference to God’s vision and provision, the sexual sin of a state hosting the pornography industry and closing its eyes to human trafficking, and the many broken covenants past and present – from treaties with tribes to abandonment of families by their heads. We do not dwell on sin, but we do commit ourselves to seeking opportunities to eliminate its presence and legacy.
The coalition is committed to daily prayer asking God to break the drought cycle, thanking and praising Him for the rain He has sent. Some reservoirs are full, and the hillsides are green already. But we recognize that rainfall is hovering around half normal levels for this time of year, even as the natural rainy season draws to a close. The snowpack on which we depend for sustained water is less than a third of the normal depth. We serve a God who answers prayer quickly, and this is a deposit on His promise to bless the state. Our resistance to accountability for past and present behavior is still in His Face, effectively blocking the fullness of His blessing. Ongoing drought – and make no mistake, the drought is indeed ongoing – comes not from divine rage but from God’s love, which says He is absolutely determined to see us become all that we can be. And so the coalition continues to pray and to call for prayer.
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Why do the heathen rage? That is the question in Psalms 2. The heathen are those who do not accept God as authoritative; it is an archaic term with no judgment in it. But those who reject the notion that God’s Son died for them and so bought their abundant life often rage at any hint of accountability to a higher power. Throw in the notion of responsibility for their ancestors’ acts, and the rage becomes monumental. (Never mind that we cheerfully accept the passed-down benefits of ancestral achievement.) Frankly, I am not writing to or about the folks who reject God and His claim on our lives. It is the Body of Christ God calls to repentance.
National Day of Repentance is calling on churches across the nation to name May 4th “Repentance Sunday.” Those who accept the call will engage in some form of corporate repentance, or re-focus on God and His Kingdom – as depicted in the Scriptures and not as we imagine it to be. The willing are exhorted to renounce participation in the categories of sin cited above. This is no call for sackcloth and ashes, much less self-flagellation, but for a humble acknowledgement that we have messed up; and it is time to fess up. Then and only then can we credibly ask God to lead us in the transformation of our communities and states into provinces of His Kingdom in the power of His Holy Spirit. Then and only then can we say we are preparing for the Fourth Great Awakening in our land that He promises.
In the meantime, many claim there is nothing you can do about death, taxes, and weather. They are wrong; we can pray and then walk through the doors we see opened only after concerted prayer. Others travel the state claiming the drought is over. They are wrong; we pray that they – and we – become filled with God’s humility. (Coalition members have committed to repenting until even secular authorities affirm the drought’s end.) What is right on is the certainty God loves His people more than life itself. There actually is a pony under all this…drought.
The next four postings deal separately and respectively with the patterns of historical sin in California.
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Photo credit: Pepe Barbe (Flickr)
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