We had a funeral today, and the weather forecast was rain … lots of rain. I received a call yesterday asking whether one could postpone the burial if it rains and the grave is waterlogged. I could not answer that question, but the undertaker could. Today, he said, rain or sunshine the burial continues.
Like others, I prayed for “no rain” during the burial. Going to the funeral parlor, it rained … after the service there was no rain. We left Riviera heading towards Zandfontein Cemetery in Pretoria West, having no rain until less than a kilometer from the cemetery. The closer we drove, the harder it rained … and like me, I am certain many people prayed for the rain to stop … and by the time our vehicles stopped, so did the rain.
Due to the rains, the sand around the grave was mud. The undertaker asked me to do the final part of the service (the committal) at the hearse because the mud was extremely slippery and we needed to hurry as the clouds were rather laden with water (black–dark).
Once this was completed, the pallbearers carried the coffin slowly and set it on the “cradle” before the undertaker lowered it. He and the pallbearers’ shoes were full of mud. The “cradle” and carpeting were removed and loved ones started to close up the grave. I left, and within two minutes the heavens erupted with hard rain.
It rained so hard that soon the roads were like rivers. Just about every vehicle had their headlights on with flashers flicking. This was all the way home. It really rained. I have not seen a downpour like this since the flooding in the Free State Province in the late 1980s.
As I left the cemetery, I looked to my right and saw the most majestic sight. Between mountain peaks, I saw the capital city of South Africa (Pretoria) with its high-rise buildings. In front of me was the rain … yet in the distance the sun peeped out over the city with a type of mist screen. It really looked so beautiful. Because I was travelling, the sight was limited to a few seconds only. My four takeaways from today are …
First, God hears and answers prayers even when we think it is unlikely. Some people looked at the weather app only to find that it would rain most of the day in the Zandfontein area … yet we prayed. Although the weather forecast is often incorrect, we have seen over the last few days with Tropical Cyclone Eloise that the weather predictions for each day have been rather accurate. Now, in the mind of the person praying, with such accuracy over the last few days, there is some fear that God might not hear the prayer or might not answer the prayer favourably according to the desired outcome … yet we prayed, and God heard our prayers because we prayed not for ourselves but for a proper disposal of the mortal remains of the deceased. After praying for the Body of Christ at Ephesus, in Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul adds:
Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
If God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” why should we doubt even when all odds are against what we ask for? During the burial service there was no rain at all!
Second, there was no rain during the burial service, yet soon thereafter it poured. This is nothing but grace, mercy and kindness. Anyone present today would be foolish to think God was not present!
2Jn 1:3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
If His blessings are with us, He is with us!
Third, roads like rivers. Driving in this downpour with lights and flashers on reminded me of the extreme danger of flooding, yet our precious Lord got me home safely. Most of the journey was not faster than 30 kph, and even then oncoming vehicles sprayed water over my front window blocking out all visibility. At times, the spray from my vehicle was higher than the bonnet.
After the universal flood in Genesis 7 and 8, God says:
Gen 8:21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
Whilst there may be cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes and localized floods, God promised never to send a universal flood again.
Fourth, a glimpse of the beautiful city. I am sure that many cities around the world are beautiful. Because I live in the city of Pretoria (Tshwane), I am inclined to feel that this is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen. It is not a new city–it was founded on 18 November 1855 by Marthinus Wessel Pretorius–yet its beauty has not changed. Seeing that sight through the mountain peaks with the sun’s rays and the “mist” effect made me think of another city … the Glorious City of God!
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Rev 21:10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
Rev 21:18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
Our God reigns, answers prayer beyond our expectations and lives in a City so glorious that we cannot yet apprehend its matchless beauty and majesty. Not only is He our Eternal Father and not only is that City His Throne … it is our Eternal Home. Hallelujah! Are you looking forward to going home?
Dear God, thank You for showing us glimpses of Your glory in nature, our environment and Your Word. Amen.