In the last hour, I have cooked lunch in a modern, perfectly working kitchen, watched Taylor Swift's new video on my laptop computer, listened to a friend make a business call on her iPhone, dreamed of what kind of house to build, and received countless texts from friends across the country.  I'm sitting in a fully furnished office in a fully furnished house, and I can see multiple brick homes and nice cars out my window.  On my way home from work, I'll stop at a store and return a rug I bought yesterday, make multiple phone calls, listen to the top songs on country and pop radio, and fight the traffic jam that will be the interstate in rush hour traffic.  Everywhere I turn, there are books and music and people and noise.  Are they blessings from the Lord?  Good gifts from a Father who loves us?  Yeah, I think they are.  But so often in this rat race, in our modern culture, I wonder why God doesn't speak the way He did in the Bible.  I read about times where the people would pray and pray for things and it almost seems like God answered them in such physical ways.  So often, I pridefully get out my pointer finger and start wagging it at God telling him that it isn't fair for him to have answered them so clearly in those days and not us now.  (Like I have any place telling God what's fair and what isn't... Sheesh!)  But as I sit and listen to my friend Jana tell stories of how the people in Africa see the Lord's presence, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not only prideful but also completely blinded by the culture, the stuff, and the noise, and I'm totally missing what He's doing and where He is.

My name is April.  I'm a 26 year old female, born and raised here in the States.  I love the Lord and try to seek His presence every day, even in the midst of this crazy American culture.  I believe the Lord is good and is working, here and there and everywhere, and I want to be a part of spreading His love and freedom wherever I am.  For now, that's in Nashville.  But thankfully, I've been given the opportunity to be a part of the Switchboard crew for a while and you'll be hearing my voice often around these parts for a while. And upon hearing stories like the one I'm about to share, I think I've been given quite a gift to join in the Lord's work at Switchboard in this exact time.

You see, Jana's been telling me stories about this summer in Africa. Honestly, she's been doing that for a couple years now, keeping me updated on what God's been up to on that continent and with those people.  This year, the story that got me was about rain.  Not demons or healing or revivals but rain.  The wet drops that fall from the sky and ruin our picnics, rain.

In the parts of Africa the Switchboard team was in this summer, everyone farms.  It's the only way you eat, make money, feed your family.  Crops being successful is essential to daily life.  The worst thing that could possibly happen for these farmers and these people is for there to be no rain and the crops to fail.  And when our team arrived in Africa in late June, that's exactly what was happening.  There had been no rain for over a month, and it was a drought.  Not only that but the sun had been hotter than usual, and the people were beginning to fear famine sweeping the land.  It was awful.  

Our team moved in on a hot and dry Saturday afternoon, and first thing Sunday, what happened?  It started to rain.  Not only did it rain, it poured. All day Sunday and then, quite honestly, for most of the rest of the trip.  So often here, I'm frustrated in the rain.. forgot my rain jacket, wet from my umbrella, etc.  But there?  They rejoiced.  And instantly, these open-eyed and open-hearted African people turned to our Switchboard team and proclaimed, "You have brought the presence of the Lord with you!"  Did they know from our prep or our countless hours of planning or even our money?  No, it was nothing of our human might or power.  As hard as we could've tried, we could have never made it rain in their drought.  The Lord did that.  And these people's hearts were so turned toward the Lord that the rain was never thought of as an inconvenience or a coincidence or anything of the sort.  It was a sign of His presence and their hearts were ready to receive.

Even more amazing than that, it was because of the rain (yes, the wet picnic-ruining stuff from the sky) that the people's hearts were open to receiving the showers He had sent for their souls as well.  The African people were more eager than ever to listen to the Word of God from us because they were so grateful for His provision and so trusting in His goodness and His timing. Praise God who shows up in ways we never could expect!

And that leads me back to what we're doing here.  In our busy lives with our planners chocked full of appointments and iPhones ringing like mad, I wonder if we miss it sometimes.  I wonder if the Lord is speaking to us in very tangible ways but our lives our too busy to recognize His goodness.  What if, through resting in His presence and living grateful lives in His Spirit, He could also cultivate in us the eyes to see all of the places He is providing our rain even right now as we speak?  

Today, I know these things for sure: The Lord is good.  He hasn't stopped working.  And I am thankful for our brothers and sisters in Africa teaching me of His presence today.

Jeremiah 14:22
Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.

Acts 14:17
Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.

Isaiah 55:9-11
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."