The clouds mount up, dark and ominous, like great muscled stallions, ready for war. I stand in my yard on my dead grass and watch them, waiting.
A lightning bold jabs swiftly into the wounded sky, but I am too far away to hear it groan. All around me, those horses circle, thundering to the back of me and charging like a single, solid sheet to the front of me.
But my yard opens its yellowed mouth and not a drop falls in.
“That’s the thing about the desert,” I say to the kids. “It can be flooding in one part of town while the other part is bone dry.”
A single fat rain drop plummets to the ground and vaporizes on the burning cement. At least it could have fallen on the grass, I mumble to myself. I gaze up at the burning yellow orb hovering just above my house and I think about how much I really don’t want to water my lawn that night, and how much everything would be so much better if it would just rain, even a little.
I have lived in the desert just long enough to know that here, the earth holds its breath for rain. Days and weeks go by without a drop, then all of a sudden God throws open the gates of heaven and lets his steeds run free. They thunder down to the earth with the sound of a thousand hoof beats, and are gone.
The grass is watered and the cacti flower and the people in the puddles are reminded that there is a God in heaven who causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike. But on the other side of town, where the horses didn’t run, the people stand on parched ground and wonder why God held back the reigns for them.
I looked at the spot where the raindrop fizzled. “I should be grateful for that drop,” I chastise myself. Even one drop is better than nothing.
Another drop falls. It is not exactly a war horse, but I get out a wash bin and put it under the eaves as an act of faith. Maybe it will rain enough to drip off the shingles so I can water the flowers tucked under the roof, close to the house.
Then the horses come, slowly at first, as if to find their way, then charging in at full force. The waters fill my pathetic little wash bin and trample the thirsty grass. I put another bucket out, and another, but those are overflowing before I can grab any more.
God has let his cavalry run right through my backyard.
I run too, trying to collect all the water I can because tomorrow, it will be dry again. Tomorrow, the rain will stop and I’d better be smart enough to get it while I can.
But I can’t contain it. I do not have enough empty containers to fill with the water that is pouring down on my house. I dump hand-me-down shoes out of plastic storage bins and fill those too, but the rain keeps coming and I am soaked.
It rains all day. Then the next. And the next. Great pools of water form in the hollows of the desert. The horses rush together in a foaming frenzy and course through dry riverbeds in a blur of motion. Everything that was empty has been filled up; everything that was dry has been saturated.
And I am out in my yard with buckets and bins, looking every bit like a widow who has cared for a growing boy through famine years, who thinks her son might die even while filling every last vessel in her home with oil while a prophet pours.
I am ashamed, just a little, at my attempts to hoard God’s provision as if I would run out. The water drips down my hair and off my chin, it gathers in herds in my yard, and there I stand in the rain, trying to save a bit of it in a blue plastic bin.
Here I am, with all my jars filled, and I realize something about God that I should have known before: I should fear overflowing more than I fear running out. God does not run out.
I have limited his hand because my mind tells me what God can do and my faith doesn’t have the guts to disagree.
I stand in the rain, drenched to the core, and I am reminded that God is not limited by my limitations. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more than I could ever ask or imagine. He can command the horses of heaven to charge swiftly through the desert. He can make oil flow from clay jars.
He can even refine a rain-soaked child with just one lick of fire.
The rain is still coming, and I nothing to put out except the jar that is cracked and brittle, the one that I hold back because I don’t believe it can ever really be full. But it’s under the eaves today, and the rain is coming faster than the cracks can let it out.
It is raining horses, and I am overflowing.