Singing In The Rain.
It is the signature I see each time my spiritual mentor sends an email or letter.
Singing In The Reign.
This 80-plus year old giant of faith, Jack Taylor, has known as much suffering as any leader I know. He also understands the concepts and practices of the Kingdom better than anyone I know. And his signature celebrates one of the greatest truths I know:
When you learn to sing in the rain, you will know what it means to sing in the reign.
You see, you can never really grasp how the overarching rule of Jesus is so far greater than the overwhelming circumstances in your life, until you face the unspeakable pain of loss.
If in those moments when all things seem to be working against us we can cling to the all things work together for us reality of the Kingdom, we will be able to dance in our rain because we live in His reign.
I have seen a lot of this up close and personal lately.
- It’s what my niece, Lenae, does every morning when she gets out of bed, gets her three beautiful boys ready and takes on life with a vengeance even after the loss of her precious husband.
- It’s what my wife, Dianne, does as she processes deep pain from our past, grieves the loss of her mother and perseveringly takes on a class full of first graders all at the same time.
- It’s what my friends, David and Caron, do constantly as they rebuild their life and ministry after the unspeakable loss of public failure.
These people consistently inspire my fragile faith as they dance into the pain that has become the norm in their abnormal situations and sing under the umbrella of grace.
Singing in the reign best expresses itself when we are singing in the rain.
They are in good company in this folly of faith. The Bible is replete with stories of the rain-song.
Paul and Silas were preaching and healing in Philippi. They were making people whole–breaking the chains that had held people all their lives. Through them, the Good News was literally freeing people from bondages that ruined their lives and shipwrecked their communities. (Acts 16:11ff)
For administering that freedom, they wound up in chains.
Beaten senseless, locked in the darkest recesses of a hell-hole prison, they did the only thing that made any sense.
They started singing in their rain.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25a)
The nonchalant normalcy of that statement is one of the things that makes it sparkle. Like the insurance commercial, “when you get pounded and thrown in jail because you love Jesus, you sing. It’s what you do!”
At the point in life where trauma wed unfairness and birthed injustice, Paul and Silas remembered Who was really in charge. In the face of the inconsolable pain that rose from inconceivable circumstance, these two wounded warriors chose to believe that where evil abounded, grace abounded even more.
The limitations of bondage their enemy intended to squeeze the life out of them did. But what the Constrictor never expected would come out was praise.
Confidence in His reign transformed the chaos of their rain and gave them a reason to sing when no one else believed there was a song.
When they chose to sing in the reign, the chains fell off and they walked–or maybe danced—out to the Jailhouse Rock.
“Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:26)
Freedom is always the result of choosing to live in the bigger story rather than the smaller struggle.
No longer bound to the short-sighted view of a short-term situation, we believe in the larger purpose for the pain.
You can see some of that purpose in the prison break story.
“…and the other prisoners were listening.” (Acts 16:25b)
Every time one of my brave loved-ones passing through the dark valley chooses to sing through their pain, others locked in the helplessness of suffering hear the song of hope. Like the Philippian Jailer and his family, they are given the chance to join the chorus.
That’s because freedom is contagious.
The song of the rain lifts the eyes of the sufferer so they can see beyond what is and grab hold of what can be—and that’s when the earth quakes, prison doors open and chains come loose.
This song isn’t denying reality. It is simply embraces a reality that is so much greater.
Paul knew it. “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” in those who trip the light fantastic in the middle of a typhoon.
Habakkuk knew it thousands of years before the imprisoned preachers.
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk was saying I may be having a bad go of it, but I have a good God in it.
It can seem trite. Some see it as foolish. But if you’ve ever heard the song in the rain—or better yet, sung it—you know there is nothing more beautiful.
Allowed a bit of license, I would say Nacio Herb Brown almost had it right in the lyrics:
Why am I smiling
And why do I sing?
Why does September
Seem sunny as spring?
Why do I get up
Each morning and start?
Happy and head up
With joy in my heart
Why is each new task
A trifle to do?
Because I am living
A life full of you.*
If only he had capitalized that last word.
Then he could have been Singing In The Reign.
*Singing In The Rain, Nacio Herb Brown, 1929