It’s easy to remember that what you do matters right after a big season like the one we just finished. You can probably name five things very easily that you are celebrating from the past few weeks—things like people beginning a relationship with Christ, families attending who you haven’t seen in awhile, or programs that proclaimed the name of Jesus to your community. You worked very hard, you saw that what you do matters, and now you can celebrate that!
But what about when the results aren’t as easy to see? What about when the next “big” thing is months away on your calendar? What about when life, and ministry goes back to . . . normal?
What you do matters then, too.
Remember the story in the Bible of the prophet Elijah at the top of Mt. Carmel? He challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel of sorts. It had been a very dry season for several years. It was dry spiritually—God had not been showing up and showing off in grand ways during Elijah’s ministry. It was also dry physically in the land of Israel. First Kings 17:1 tells us why:
“You can be just as sure that there won’t be any dew or rain in the whole land.
There won’t be any during the next few years. . . .”
The rest of that story, you may remember, has us watching as God revealed His power and provision, and sealed the miracle with a rainstorm that signaled the end of the drought.
Rain is hard to miss. You can see it, and hear it, and feel it, and sometimes even smell it. It’s impossible to not notice the rain. It shows up in your life, sometimes unexpectedly, but you always know when it has been there. The rain in your ministry can be seen as the big results—the children and students who accept Christ, the programs that reach families, the marriages that are restored, the outreach opportunities that change the trajectory of your community.
But what happens when you don’t see any rain for a season?
Let’s look back at First Kings 17:1: “There won’t be any dew or rain. . . .” Have you ever noticed that word before? Dew. It’s really easy to skip over that word. Dew doesn’t really mean a whole lot to those of us who live in the United States. We know that it appears sometime while we’re sleeping and covers the grass with dampness. Unless you have to go out and retrieve your newspaper from the middle of that damp grass, you likely don’t even notice the dew. Dew doesn’t really seem to change our lives.
Let’s look at what dew meant for Israel in the context of this story, and even today. It didn’t rain in Israel for at least half of the year. Not a drop. So when the rain did arrive, it couldn’t offset the lack of the last six months. Instead, the dew is what sustained life. Every morning the dew came. That small amount of moisture nourished the plants that fed the animals that provided for the people of Israel.
The dew mattered.
Dew is different from rain. It is silent. It doesn’t draw any attention to itself or surround itself with loud claps of thunder or brilliant flashes of lightening. It goes unnoticed, and you have to make an effort just to notice it.
Have you made an effort to notice the dew in your ministry? The dew is your small group leaders showing up consistently and randomly in the lives of their few. The dew is the smile and word of encouragement to the overwhelmed mom in the hallway. The dew is the time taken to share your heart over a cup of coffee with a leader or parent in your ministry. The dew is the countless hours you and your team spend behind the scenes, preparing.
In Israel, it wasn’t the rain that signaled growth and life change. It was the dew. The dew provided the necessary momentum for life to grow. Was the rain appreciated and celebrated? Yes! But the impact of the rain didn’t overshadow the impact of the dew.
This season, don’t focus on the rain, or lack of rain, in your ministry. Shift your focus to the dew—the small steps that you take every single day. It is the dew—the daily, seemingly routine choices—that will impact your ministry the most.
Don’t give up when you don’t see the rain. Instead, celebrate the dew.