A pastor friend used an interesting phrase in conversation to me. He told about a revival effort in his church and said until the last service they’d only had “mercy drops.” I asked what he meant, and he reminded me of the old hymn: “Mercy drops ‘round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.” Fortunately, the last night they got the “showers” when many people made life-changing commitments to the Lord.
I think his imagery is appropriate for much of what we do in the church. We labor long and hard to invite, minister and encourage and sometimes it seems our work is ineffective. And then without human explanation the Spirit of God works overtime and we see great things happen.
I’m convinced both “mercy drops” and “showers” are in God’s hands, and we must be faithful as the Apostle Paul said, “in season and out of season.” That is, we must continue to do God’s work whether there’s visible results or not.
The scripture includes two encouraging promises. One is that God’s word will be effective. The ancient prophet Isaiah shared a message from the Lord: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). We may not see the effect of God’s word immediately, or for a season, but we’re promised it will touch and change lives. The Bible calls itself “inspired” or “God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). The God who used his Spirit to give us his word promises to send the same Spirit to touch hearts.
The second promise speaks to the value of God’s work. Again, Paul wrote, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Ray Boltz wrote “Thank You for Giving to the Lord” in 1988. He told of a man dreaming of heaven. There he met a man who said, “I became a Christian in your Sunday School class when I was a child. Thank you for giving to the Lord.” And then he met a man from another country. He said, “You heard a missionary and you gave money to support him. That’s the reason I’m here. Thank you for giving to the Lord.”
Maybe surprises we’ll one day discover in heaven are the mercy drops that don’t grab our attention in the way the showers do. But our task is to remain faithful to God and his work. It has eternal value.