“Pray for no rain!” is always what they say around my church when it’s time for an outreach event.  Last Saturday, I volunteered at our Easter outreach, where its expected that thousands of people will visit the church to have fun with their kids for the holiday.  There’s always lots planned indoors and outdoors… which means the weather is usually a factor in the ‘success’ of the event. 

3 years of God’s provision!

Every time there’s an event like this, the church and especially the planning team make it a point to pray for no rain.  This way more people will be willing to come, be welcomed to the church, enjoy their time with their family, and possibly be introduced to Jesus.  And honestly, at some huge events, there has been miraculous proof that God stopped rain and gave us an awesome day for the outreach.  See the video-

But what happened this time? It rained.  A nice cold cold windy rain.  Not just for a little while, but for most of the event.  I was so blessed (insert sarcasm) to be stationed outside… I was supposed to be helping the little kids explore a real ambulance with an EMT in the middle of the parking lot.  I was scheduled to be out there for 3 hours, but within 30 minutes, the EMT wanted to shut it down and go inside. 

So, I followed her lead and went inside. I liked it much better where it was warm, dry, and there was no chilling wind cutting through my layers.  After just a few minutes of being inside trying to warm up, I began to wonder what I was supposed to do for the rest of my time.  What’s the point of being here?  Could I just go home?  I didn’t want to sit for the rest of my time. 

So, after a while, I went back outside to see if people were still around.  Surprisingly there were still lots of families with their children coming inside, dodging the rain, and hanging out under the church’s awning with their kids waiting to see some other vehicles. 

There were some more volunteers who had not given up so easily and were toughing it out for the kids, getting wet in the rain.  The church had some umbrellas, but they were nowhere to be found at the time.  I brought 2 with me, so I ran out to my car and brought them back to share with the volunteers.   They were so grateful. 

I hung around a little more, tried to warm up, then went back outside to still see lots of families still cowering from the rain because their kids wanted to see the school bus and fire truck so bad. 

By then, the umbrellas had mysteriously appeared and I knew I could put them to good use.  I thought of the times the parking lot and door greeters would walk ladies from their cars to the church with an umbrella when it rained.  I grabbed the biggest one I could find and found the closest person around who looked fearful of jumping into the rain.

The rest of the morning, I spent my time sharing my umbrella with moms, dads, grandparents, and children who were in need of shelter from the rain.  When you share an umbrella, a stranger can’t stay a stranger for long.  You gotta get pretty up close and personal.  During those few minutes, I got to help them out, talk with them, and see their kids enjoying the event.  

It was so special to me to be able to take some time with each of those people.  It wasn’t just about keeping dry, it was about going the extra mile, making someone comfortable, getting to know a visitor to the church, letting them know that we care and want to help. 

In the last 20 minutes of the event, the rain stopped and I was able to put the umbrellas away and go back to helping at the ambulance.  But, as my shift ended and it was time to go home, I thought back:  I hadn’t wanted it to rain.  We prayed it wouldn’t rain.  It made me freezing cold and grumpy when I was supposed to be ministering.  But, it was the rain that gave me those personal moments with so many families.  I got to be close with them, talk with them, care for them.  If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would change would be to have more time of rain, so I could have spent more time with more people… not make the rain stop.

That made me reflect even more.  How many times do we pray for something we think should happen, it doesn’t happen, then we get grumpy, frustrated, angry, or upset?  How many times do we try to tell God this is not the way things were supposed to happen?  But what if through all that negativity, it is really an opportunity God is trying to share with us?  An opportunity to act, to care, to help, to be personal, to minister, to grow….

And what about orphans?  If I had it my way, there would be no orphans in the world.  I can’t speak for God, but I trust His will and that he has a plan for all that’s happened in their lives.  Instead of getting frustrated with the problem of having millions of orphans around the world and praying for God to fix the problem, what if it is really an opportunity God is trying to share with us?  An opportunity to act, to care, to help, to be personal, to minister, to grow…

How is He speaking to you to minister?  To carry the umbrella of care and be close with someone in need?  We may wish the negative situation away, but I believe those are some of the most precious times we can have with others and with the Lord. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
Psalm 34:18a (NIV)