Lightning lanced down repeatedly, like an assassin's icepick, turning the country road into a flickering, hallucinogenic highway. Thunder resounded like an glacier blasted open with plastic explosive. Raindrops as heavy as shot glasses pounded the leaves off sturdy oaks.
"Praying for rain again?" I shouted to my wife, knowing the words would be ripped into oblivion by the wind.
She smiled, pointing at the sky and shrugging. I knew what she meant -- His will, not ours.
In truth, we hadn't been praying about the weather. We had been praying about our continued work with homeless men and women. God wanted us to keep pouring more of ourselves into this ministry, and sometimes it seemed there was little to show for it.
Specifically, we had been praying that the people to whom we had recently opened our home would find full-time jobs nearby. That way, they might pay a small amount toward their room and board and ease some of the financial pressures we were feeling.
The world will quickly tell you the job market is tight. There isn't a huge demand for people who haven't held a job in years, who don't have a mailing address, who can't find their Social Security cards, who may not be sober from one day to the next.
But Malachi 3:10 gives you a taste of God's view of the things that may happen if you put forth your best effort in His behalf:
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
The Lord's mighty rainstorm of blessings started slowly.
Splash! One raindrop fell in the form of a businessman who needed a ready workforce and was willing to take a chance on one homeless man.
Splat! Several homeless men and women were attending a weekly Bible study and were beginning to believe there might be life outside the woods. More volunteers began coming from more churches, ministering in more areas of the city.
Drip, drip, drip. Some of the homeless with drug and alcohol problems were picked up for various legal offenses. Some landed in jail. Others went to treatment facilities. Still more ended up in hospitals.
Most of them emerged looking for work. All around them, people were praying that they find it.
Whoosh! A handful found work with the local businessman. He was impressed. One man walked three hours just to reach a job site. Later, two men received bicycles so they could make the trek in an hour -- always arriving on time and ready to work.
When one man got drunk and was thrown in jail, the businessman provided his bond money.
"I know you're not going to run," he told the man.
"Where else would I go?" the man replied, amazed at the grace he had received.
Still, roiling clouds of God's blessings were building on the horizon.
One day this week, a homeless woman prayed that she might realize her dream of working with the elderly. She interviewed at a rest home and was hired on the spot for a full-time job that would include free breakfast and lunch.
She and her fiancee prayed that he might find work. They vacillated about whether to attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. They decided to go.
On the way, they learned that the businessman was desperately in need of more workers. He immediately agreed to hire the man -- starting tomorrow -- and asked whether there might be more people in the woods willing to work for him.
The businessman also asked if we could ease up on the prayers. It seems his business was doing so well he couldn't keep up with the demand.
We just shrugged and pointed at the sky.
When God opens the floodgates of heaven, it's usually best to put away the umbrella, take off the slicker ... and just let the rain soak in.
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