Of Dreams and Prayers

Southern Botswana is an arid place, especially in late July—their winter. A vibrant blue sky devoid of clouds greeted us each morning.  After about 3 days, I asked the team of Bible translators that I was working with, when the rains would come. It was obvious that they didn’t expect rain for at last another month. Rain is a symbol of blessing and in a society that relies heavily on  ranching it is an obvious necessity. Their word for rain—Pula—is a word they shout as a chant of encouragement or empowerment. Interestingly they have also named their form of money pula.

I love rain, both because of its symbolism, and because I grew up in the rain forest, so it reminds me of home. Every time it starts to rain, I have the urge to run outside and skip and dance! Water falling from the sky, landing on my skin feels like a kiss from my Father.

So I began to pray for rain before I left Botswana. I knew it was out of season. I knew it would be a miracle if rain came. I knew it would be celebrated by the community as a blessing. It seemed like a good thing to pray for. After all, God is in control of the weather, and he delights to give good gifts to his children. I prayed daily, several times a day for rain. And sure enough, clouds began to appear on our sixth day in Gaborone. They gathered to create full cloud cover by the evening of our ninth day. I was beginning to feel confident that God was going to answer my plea for rain. I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas!

That night I had a dream. I was gathering with some of our team members to get to an event we were supposed to attend. We were rushing and as is common in dreams,  many things went awry or changed so  that we couldn’t seem to complete our task and get to the event. When we had finally finished everything and were back at our hotel, I looked out the window and saw that it was raining hard! And it had been raining for awhile! It dawned on me that in our distraction and busy-ness I had totally ignored the very rain I had prayed for. I rushed outside to stare up at the sky which was beginning to clear, and I thanked God for sending the rain.

As I awoke, the significance of the dream sank in. I’m not likely to miss rain in the desert, but how often do I miss his miracles falling down all around me because I’m so focused on how I plan for him to answer. Do I recognize His hand and thank Him when the rain comes in different ways than I expect? Or out of time?  When God says no or not now do I forget? Do I miss his answers for all my headlong rush into the next thing?

With these probing questions in my heart, over the next several days, I began to look for and see His answers falling like raindrops in the dust! The prayers for safety, health, and energy—answered. The prayers for unity as a team—answered. The prayers for His blessing to just seep out of us to everyone we came in contact with—answered (most specifically in a couple of the hotel staff who really connected with us, came to visit with us during breaks and asked for Bibles from the workshop!) The prayers for wisdom facing challenges—answered. The prayers to stay the enemy’s efforts to thwart our work—answered. So many miraculous drops watering our souls, watering our team, watering His Kingdom!

I guess my perfect ending would be to announce that on our last day it poured rain—literal rain! But it didn’t. God said no to my prayer for actual rain in Gaborone while we were there. Maybe my perfect ending isn’t the best ending after all. Maybe the rain of a dream that reminded me to focus on Him and His good gifts, is better than anything I was actually expecting. Maybe, just maybe, he really does send rain in ways I far-to-often miss.

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