Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grace like rain

This past week was hot, and oppressively so. Not only was the mercury stuck in the mid-to-high 90 range during daylight hours (only relenting to a sultry 80-something at night), but it was also humid. The Japanese use the term 蒸し暑い (pronounced mushiatsui) to describe this brutal combination of heat and moisture, which causes a hot day to feel hotter and stuffier. On days such as this, one can work up a sweat simply by sitting still. For aficionados of saunas and steam-baths, this may well be the ultimate freebie, but for most, it is genuinely uncomfortable.

There's very little that a person can do about the heat, either. Air conditioning is expensive, and reckless use of A/C feels more than a little un-stewardly while the city of Tokyo attempts to save energy by making cutbacks. Furthermore, there are limits to A/C. Though I do not have an A/C unit in my bedroom, there is one next door in the living room and so I've had to get creative in my attempts to circulate the cool air. The first few nights that I was here, simply leaving my bedroom door open to the living room was enough but as it got hotter, I began to shift fans around in strategic ways to try and blow the cool air into the room. Even then, I experienced minimal success and several sleepless, sweaty nights.

Nothing that I did could keep me cool--no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't lower the temperature enough to sleep comfortably. Then, on Friday, it began to rain. It rained through the weekend, and as I write this post, the temperature is a mild 67˚.

As I marveled at the change in climate this morning, the comparison between grace and rain finally made sense to me. We struggle with sin in our own lives, struggle to do right, to speak wisely, to care for others and ultimately to seek God first. It's not for lack of trying, either. We can steel ourselves up and concentrate really hard, but try as we might we can't get rid of sin ourselves. It's like plaque growing on bad teeth in the way that it latches onto our hearts, and no amount of brushing or flossing can completely get rid of it. Just like the oppressive heat, the 蒸し暑い climate which we can struggle to endure, struggle to moderate, we cannot conquer sin by our own efforts.

The only solution is grace, which comes like the rain, completely beyond our control to cool us, sooth us and save us. If this feeling of peace and comfort can overwhelm me just because the rain brought the temperature down 30˚, then how much more should I feel peace and comfort at the grace of God which vanquishes my sins?

It's so cool that God has planted these object lessons, illustrations and analogies into His world. I hope more people take notice!

"Grace like rain"
by Todd Agnew

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see so clearly

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Chorus: Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing Your praise
Than when we first begun

Chorus: Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

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