The things most essential for life are free.
Two things that we need above all for our earthly, physical life do not cost us one cent.
Yea, three things there are which we need not buy and yet need continually as indispensable for our earthly existence.
The sun comes up each morning with its life-giving light. You need not drop a coin in a slot to insure its rising tomorrow morning. It is not one of those benefits which the citizens of the world enjoy and receive out of the taxes they pay to their governments. You cannot buy that sunlight. What will you give God for it? How big a check do you suppose ought to be made out for it? Just what value do you attach to it? And that wherewith a man in his foolishness might try to reimburse God for this great gift, from whom did he get this very thing wherewith he would repay God? That this sunlight is indispensable for our very life no one will deny. Yet it is absolutely free, untaxed and given apart from all that which we may do or fail to do. You will be held accountable in the day of days for all the use you have made of that sunlight. It is a creature over which man has been placed as God’s priest. He is steward also of that sunshine. But he will never be sent a bill for it. God does not run a department store. God is not a business man out to make a dollar or two. And in times of inflation that sunshine costs you no more than it did in times of depression with their lower prices. The sunshine is free.
And though there are times and ways in which you may have to pay for water, and the city sends you your water bill periodically, yet the rain is free. Millions and millions of tons of rain fall upon our land every year. We have to wait for it. It comes at most inconvenient times, and often in greater amounts than we like. But it is not a thing that we must or can buy. Indeed there are these “rainmakers” who charge a fee for their labor and for the maintenance of their equipment and supplies. We will not at this time enter into the merits or lack of merits of these attempts to obtain this free commodity, rain. But the fact remains that these clouds which these “rainmakers” seed must first come their way and come without charge. No man can direct the moist air that forms these clouds. And even if he could produce the cloud as well as seed it for a shower and “milk” it of its water, that moist air they cannot buy. That we need that rain no one in his right mind will deny. Without it no food will grow in the field. Without it our rivers and fountains will dry up. And without water man cannot live. He can live without food for a longer period than he can live without water. And freely it drips and pours out of the sky upon our land.
And again, there are times when because of a serious physical condition a tank of oxygen must be purchased. Yet the air which we breathe all the clays of our life from birth to death we inhale without receiving a bill for it monthly or annually. No one denies us the right to breathe in all the air we please. It is there free of charge by the providence of God. It, too, is an essential of our earthly lives; and without it sunshine and rain have no meaning and are of no use to us. Indeed, three things there .are which we need; and yet we need not buy these or are charged one penny for them by the Living God who supplies them free of charge, yea also to those who demand a fee from us.
There is something beneficial about living in a community that is predominantly agricultural. One learns man’s dependency upon God, upon His rain and His sunshine to a degree that the factory worker and office help cannot learn it. Where men have rain gauges and compare the amounts of moisture they have received on the streets, one becomes quite conscious of what departures there are from the normal pattern and the amount needed for the proper growth of plants. Indeed, there is a measure of truth in it that a farmer loses his crop seven times during the summer only to gain it back again in the fall. We say, there is a measure of truth in it, especially when you are speaking of the farmer in general and do not speak exclusively of the child of God who plows his land, sows his seed and reaps his harvest in the fear of the Lord. But it is just as true, no, it is the truth and not simply a statement that contains a measure of the truth, that the believing farmer, the man who farms IN HIS FEAR learns a dependency upon God that men in all other occupations could very profitably learn. He sows his seed in faith. And he knows what it means to wait upon the Lord. He is keenly aware, this believing farmer, that all his efforts are in vain unless it pleases God to send him the rain in its seasons. We say again, there is something beneficial about living in a community where this truth is so close at hand. There is something spiritually wholesome and something of the more seriousness of life to be in such a position where one must wait upon the Lord and wherein one learns at first hand that close tie between God and the sustenance of our mortal frames.
And times such as those through which these parts have gone and still to a great degree are present, when applied by the Spirit of Christ, leads one to true thankfulness unto God. This, indeed, in our land of abundance and of untold luxuries even in periods of “recession” and “depression” is a rare thing. Living in the bigger cities, bringing home our pay check from the office or factory regularly, buying our food in the supermarket makes for life in which rain and sunshine are detached from our food supply. If our supermarket cannot get it here, it will get it there. The shelves of the store are always full. It is not our concern but that of the store manager where he will get his supplies. And that gratitude, that thankful heart for these essentials of life that God gives so freely is a rare thing.
Indeed, the last half year has no; been one in this vicinity that would give one a smug, independent and indifferent attitude over against that all-important element of rain. Powder dry soil that is so lacking in moisture that even at temperatures some twenty degrees below zero it will not freeze; cracks in the soil wide enough for a man to lay his hands sideways in them because of drying out of the soil; water pipes that freeze six to eight feet below the surface of the ground because these wide cracks allow the cold air to penetrate deeply into the soil; city and town water supplies down so low that water must be rationed, cars may not be washed, lawns may not be sprinkled; farmers being forced because of dry wells to make one or two trips a day to town for a tank of water for their cattle; these are not things that make a man feel as though he is the master of his fate. Even the most outspoken unbeliever realizes that there is a power beyond his control that sends or withholds the rain. He may call it fate. He may try to explain it by cycles of dry weather or by wind currents and even atomic blasts which have changed the pattern of prevailing winds; but he feels very keenly his helplessness.
When then it pleases God to send two or three inches of this precious water from the sky, that ungodly man will speak of a million dollar rain. And we have our own flesh according to which we also understand this language. That farmer who has had this added cost of going to town and buying water for his cattle rejoices that he is saved this expense. And adding up all the instances where farmers over a vast area are required to buy water, procure gas for the tractor or truck, purchase a tank for hauling this amounts up to many, many dollars. Whether it will be a million dollar rain to save that much money depends on the amount of rain and the number of farmers who save because of it. But when a crop failure seems imminent and then the good “soaker” comes pouring out of the skies upon these dry lands, very soon a million dollars’ worth of food will grow where it seemed as though all would wither away or fail even to germinate in the soil. Soon a million dollars’ worth of crops are produced. And in that sense it is a rain that brings a million dollars into the pockets of those who produce the food we buy and eat.
Yet this is hardly the language to be expected upon the lips of the child of God. A million dollar rain? We insist again, it is an absolutely free rain. Man may acquire millions of dollars because of it; but it did not cost him one cent. And the expression, a million dollar rain, is a very carnal statement. It lacks every vestige of the language of faith. It is not uttered in His fear. How can it be? For it looks away from God rather than unto Him. The man who sees that rain pouring down and his dry lands drinking it in as fast as it comes down and then comes up with this statement, surely was not thinking of Him Who gave this rain so liberally and freely. He was thinking only of his flesh, of material things and how many dollars he would make on what he received free of charge. It is the expression of a man who lives by bread alone. We all live by bread. But this expression utters the thought of a soul that lives by bread alone.
Very plainly the man who can utter these words when the Almighty God changes the thirsty land into a well-watered plain is not looking at God when he makes such a remark but instead at things. It is not a theocentric expression and measures God’s goodness in dollars and cents. If you please, that, which God in His goodness gives free of charge, man sees only in terms of dollars and cents for his own carnal satisfaction. He who is God’s priest—or at least has the calling and inescapable obligation to be such—does not see that rain, and the crops it makes possible, as that which he must consecrate and dedicate unto God, so that through him this speechless creature returns to God in uttered praise and thanksgiving. Instead he sees himself as his own possession and these material things as that which he has coming to him and as that which he may receive for himself for his own lusts. Out of such an attitude of the heart comes also the complaint which we heard on the street after the beginning of this cheering rain, “Why did those people get more than we? We need it worse than they do; and we deserve it more than they do.” Imagine! That is not the speech of His fear.
The believing farmer receiving that abundance of rain does two things: he falls on his knees in thankfulness before God expressing praise unto Him as the almighty and sovereign God; and he asks for grace to use this gift to the glory of God’s name. He does not speak of a million dollar rain. In His fear he speaks of a sovereign, all-wise and gracious God.