"Oh, how great is Your goodness,
which You have laid up for those who fear You,
which You have prepared for those who trust in You,
in the presence of the sons of men!"
The plastic rain gauge on our soggy wooden porch reads just above 3.5 inches, its bottom covered in fuzzy brown algae. It hasn't been dumped out in two weeks or more, but there really hasn't been time for that. Before this week's rain, the San Antonio area got an unexpected 7.5 inches of rainfall for the first six weeks of 2012. Now, just after week seven, thirty-day totals for the Alamo City read 9.25 inches. Our little rain gauge has had its beaker full.
This is an unexpected boon, to say the least.
As I returned to San Antonio late last June, the city was in the middle of a severe drought which began the previous summer. Blazing wildfires and stage four water restrictions kept conditions life-threatening and left residents begging for relief. "The percentage of exceptional drought [in Texas] was the highest in the State" in ten years, records Wikipedia. Though averaging 33 inches of rainfall a year, this portion of the state would only see two inches for all of 2011 combined.
The 2012 Farmer's Almanac shows long-range forecasts that expect similar amounts to persist well into summer 2012. "Winter temperatures will be milder than normal, on average, with much-below-normal rainfall," it predicts. The publication goes on to suggest that the southern portions of Texas will continue to receive inadequate precipitation, "with drought a threat." And yet every day as I pull out of the driveway with my father's truck, the tires eat away at more and more soft sod because there's more moisture on the ground than the soil can absorb.
It's highly unusual, local weather forecasters claim. This year is a La Nina climate pattern, one in which oceanic temperatures are lower by as much as 10 degrees, causing conditions in Texas to be dry and warm this time of year. Even the almanac predictions take the La Nina phenomenon into account, assuming only 2.5 inches of rainfall for the months of February and March. That's 2.13 inches LESS than what February has already received.
For all this upset in climatology, I have only one person to blame: me.
Five weeks ago, in the middle of the first month of the year, my pastor issued a challenge to his congregation. He dared us to give this new year--with all of its problems and potentialities--over to the LORD. There would be four days of dedication, he said, to "commit our way" to Him, just as it commands in Psalm 37. The church would be open to come and pray on those nights. Having twelve months of uncertainty ahead of me, I went.
The morning of the first day, Sunday, January 15, our pastor directed us to Psalm 31:19. In the verse, King David describes what good things the righteous have coming to them: a measure of the LORD's favor that has been set aside for some future time. "There is a moment when the stored up blessings will be poured out," the pastor explained. "[So m]aybe it's gonna rain on you... And maybe it's gonna be soon. Maybe this [year] will be the end of barrenness or drought."
His statement rings oddly prophetic in my life, the full effects of which I know have yet to be realized. Just since September, I've felt sprinkles of God's blessings. Though nothing enough to satiate the need, I consider them a sort of first fruits of what is surely to come. More recently I've felt the showers getting stronger. As I watch the rain clouds of favor gathering on the horizon, my heart swells with overwhelming thankfulness.
"On the eve of 2012," I wrote in my prayer journal on December 30, "there are so many questions--so many hopes, so many fulfillments of dreams--and I don't have answers for any of them. Help me to trust You, Lord, and step out in faith in this new year."