Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let It Rain

Holy Spirit Rain in Prison

What follows after the video is part of a recent attempt to describe the indescribable to someone. I'm talking about a recent Sunday visit to the prison where my husband serves as chaplain. I hesitated to share it, but perhaps it will encourage someone that God wants to refresh and restore and cleanse and heal you too.

It is hard to preach the same sermon for three services in a row (much less four if I did the same one from Jubilee) and have ANY interest in it by the time it gets to the last service. So I wasn't sure what I was going to do for the second service--did not really know what I was preaching when I stood up! I had a couple of sermons in my Bible, but was unsure. The choir blew us away (wow they are good) and sat down. I sensed that the men out in the pews needed to still worship. The atmosphere was totally unlike the first service, which had been upbeat. This time it was quiet and the stillness was noticable. Outside, it began to rain.

My standby song there is the simple chorus "Alleluia." As we sang, the rain outside grew steadily heavier, heavier, heavier. The sound was unlike anything I've ever heard. I cannot describe it--but it grew and grew. So did a "heavy" presence of God inside! I wondered, "God, did you coordinate that on purpose?" It did seem like it. The rain sounded--almost holy.

I waited, unsure what to do. Silence from the pews--holy silence though. Total silence is rare in the prison chapel. Rain still poured outside, but it had the most wonderful sound. Not pounding or harsh, as can sometimes be, but strong, continuous, steady, cleansing--COMFORTING rain. I felt like I was hearing the voice of God in the rain, and I wished Darren was there to sing "Let it Rain" with his guitar. Then I started singing another verse of "Alleluiah," but words came about the Spirit Rain. I couldn't tell you what I sang, but I closed my eyes and lifted my hands, and just kept singing about holy, cleansing rain, and guys then began to sing too, and the place just filled with holy Presence. Then I spoke about someone there who was giving up on life, on God, on himself, and then came strong encouragment not to give up now, that He was about to move! More singing, and this time the melody as well as the words were new. I wish I could have recorded it. I cannot remember it.

As the singing died away, I took a quick look and the green-clad inmates in the pews just had eyes closed, some lifted hands, no sound except a few quiet words of worship. Time passed. I was almost afraid to move. Finally it seemed all right to go on, and I opened my eyes. Guys were leaning forward, some were bent over, some looked like they didn't quite know what had just happened. (I knew how they felt!) The guard in back was leaning forward and staring.

I went on to a very short sermon. As the men were leaving, one I had never seen approached, with his eyes still kinda dazed and an expression of awe on his face. He said, "What was happening? I have never experienced anything like that. I think GOD was here!" "I think so too" I replied. I did not know what else to say.

Of course, being me, my mind instanly thought, "What was happening, God? What were you doing? Did I miss anything? Was it about the guard, or the inmates, or both? And WHO was giving up?" I laughed at myself, and I stopped asking, since I know I likely won't get any answers.

Oh Lord God, in our churches, our homes, our cities and towns, our prisons, our hospitals, our homeless shelters....Oh, let it rain!


Jody Harrington said...

This post just gave me chills. How awesome!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I SO wish I was there... God is going to move in that prison. I was envisioning inmates being kind to each other and the atmosphere changing so drastically that the heads of the prison systems were meeting to discuss how they could get this everywhere or if they needed to ship more inmates to Kettle...

Anonymous said...

Wow! I really need to sign up for prison ministry! The video was cool too. I especially liked the picture of the people who were soaked to the skin! They had their faces to the sky and smiles on their faces. I want to be SOAKED in holy spirit rain! Kelly

Anonymous said...

Very cool story.

Glad they have people there who can recognize things like that when they're happening.


Anonymous said...

wow. powerful. thank you so much for relating the details of the moment.

God is always with us but when s/he chooses to make Presence is always perfect and indeed AWEsome.