Dropped round to see Jesus after work. He was inconsolable.
“I’m finished as a rainmaker, Tom,” he said. “Totally, completely and utterly finished. I’ll never hold my head high in Nazareth again.”
I tried to reassure him but I was clearly only there as an audience, so I listened.
“For two whole days I stood there in the village square, calling on God to answer my prayers and bring rain. Nothing. Not a shower. Not a drop. Not even a small cloud. I tried raising my arms to Heaven…”
“I tried kneeling…”
“I tried grovelling…Shut up Tom.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“No, but you were about to. I even drew a circle and stood in it and refused to move until God made it rain. It worked for Honi the Circle Drawer when he did it. It must have done, or he would be called Honi the Something Else.”
“Well, it didn’t work for me. God called my bluff. I tried silent prayer. I tried shouting, singing, praising, demanding, imploring, beseeching. In the end they started laughing at me. Don’t say a thing Tom. I can’t believe it didn’t rain. It’s the driest spring we’ve had for years and it always rains by now. It’s almost as if God has forgotten us. I wasn’t trying for anything particularly miraculous, but I just thought he might need a reminder.”
“Maybe he’s been busy with other things,” I said. “Maybe he needs reassuring how much we appreciate him. Perhaps you should have tried a sacrifice. It’s about the only thing you didn’t try.”
“Well, he didn’t take any notice of all the things I did try.”
“I thought my luck was in this morning. The sky was a bit hazy and I thought some clouds might develop, but you saw what it was like Tom. By about eleven it was completely clear and the sun was beating down. That was when I wondered if God was mocking me. That bunch of people who’d been watching me certainly were. The hardest part was trying to walk away as if I didn’t care. There was nowhere to hide. I can still hear the laughter inside my head.”
Anything I said at this point would have been wrong. I had crept out of work this morning to watch from a distance, and it hadn’t been pleasant.
“They won’t laugh when this age comes to a violent end and God arrives in power and glory to create his new kingdom on earth. I’ll be there, ready and waiting, with all my followers, to join the chosen ones while the wicked are cast out into the darkness. Then, later, at the end of the kingdom on earth, God will take the faithful up to heaven to be with him forever. The faithless will say, ‘why didn’t you give us a sign?’ but true believers need no sign. That must be why God didn’t make it rain today.”
“What followers? What kingdom? What are you on about? I thought you were only trying to make it rain,” I said, but he wasn’t listening. I put my arm around his shoulders and gave him a hug. Told him I’d come to see him tomorrow and talk about it some more. Went home to the sanity of my family.