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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Yes It's Raining - And We Love It!

Last week I took my wife Alex to Torquay in Devon, after accepting a recommendation to visit Torquay from Keith, a very good friend of mine who grew up in Devon. This particular area of the United Kingdom is also known as The English Riviera, because of the remarkably mild winters, allowing various species of palm trees and other vegetation, particularly from the Mediterranean, to flourish there.

We had just one day when the weather was warm, dry and sunny. The sea sparkled blue, the trees lush, people were in a good mood and our spirits were high. And I thanked God for such lovely weather we were able to enjoy while we set off on a day-hike on the South Devon Coast Path, a section of the West Coast Path, a hiking trail stretching 630 miles (1,020 km) from Studland Bay in Dorset to Minehead in Somerset.

However, two days later, dawn came with an overcast sky, and as soon as we set off for a day out, it began to rain, and it rained moderate to heavy all day with hardly a respite.

Our cool temperate climate here in the UK is always the talk of the town. In fact, I can go as far to say that a comment about the weather is a form of greeting between two passing strangers, and it is a good ice-breaker when in need to start a conversation. This is because, unlike the Mediterranean, which has long dry summers, our weather is constantly changing from one day to the next. I would go as far to say that declaring a drought after a couple of days of sunshine is now a standing joke.

After two or three months of frequent rain, our media is already describing our summer as "a total washout," together with "gloomy Britain," and statistically "the wettest June since records began," and "a month's rain in 24 hours." On the BBC weather forecasting, the attitude of the presenter is always to pray away the rain and, "we look forward for some sunshine over the weekend." If the Met Office cannot dish out the sunshine, then the BBC forecast for rain is often delivered with an apologetic tone of voice. Then among the academics, there was first the warning of global cooling, with the threat that we were about to enter a new Ice Age. Then a few years later, it was global warming, both caused by man-made pollutants pumped daily into our atmosphere. Nowadays, the issue is climate change, after a series of cool British summers seem to belie any idea that our planet was getting warmer. Whichever term the academics are giving to our climate situation, the message is clear: a climatic Armageddon is just around the corner, and it will be upon us if we don't act quickly enough.

At times I wonder how did such ideas originate? As far as I recall, our climate had always been changeable. Hot, dry weather hardly ever outlasted a week here in the UK, with just a rare occasion of such weather lasting up to a month. Even in the art world, English scenery painted in bygone ages often depict wet weather, as if just as normal then as now. So why all this talk and statistics about our present climate?

Personally, I believe this to be linked with our ability to travel internationally for leisure, something past generations were denied. And as Mediterranean countries opened their doors for tourism in the 1960s, so it became a natural habit to compare their climate favourably against ours. So international tourism grew to be such a successful business, until it is only second to Defence in being the largest service industry in the UK.

The British are crying out for sunshine, it seems, as if their lives depend on it. Just a couple of days ago the Daily Express national newspaper carried a threat of an airport strike corresponding to the holiday getaway after the end of school term. The front-page headline said in words depicting the "sheer misery added to thousands of holidaymakers looking for some sunshine after weeks of gloom here in Britain..."  Such is the adversity we feel towards wet weather.

But do we as Christians need to feel that way?

My wife and I had spent three full days in Devon, not including the two additional days set aside for the train journeys. On day one, we had wall-to-wall sunshine, strong enough to burn our skins red. As already mentioned, we day-hiked on the South Devon Coast Path. For us, it was heaven. Then on the second day we took a ferry to sail across the bay to a fishing town of Brixham. Then the sky was overcast all day but still mainly dry. By evening of that day a wind has started to blow, making the return sailing turbulent as the boat tossed about on the rising waves. Standing outside on deck, holding tight to the railing with the sea just two or three feet below, I swayed with the boat and looked out to sea, to prevent seasickness. I loved it. During that experience, I thought about the prophet Jonas out at sea during an even greater storm. How he would have felt on board that rocking ship, not having gone out to sea ever in his entire life, as seafaring was not part of Jewish life and culture during Old Testament times.

Then on the third day, (also suggested by my good mate Keith,) we decided on a visit to a nearby village of Cockington, basically an open air museum of how life was like during Victorian days, with craft workshops in full operation, particularly in glass-blowing. The wind of the previous evening brought the rain, and it rained moderate to heavy throughout the entire day. It was easy for us to feel gloomy in such an environment, with all the lovely colours of trees, leaves, flowers and the general surroundings turned to various shades of grey. But did we feel "let down" by God?

Standing by the stream near Cockington, Devon. The orbs are raindrops.

Not at all! First we needed to consider our state of health. My wife's skin, especially at her forehead, had turned red from the full day's sunshine, and further sunshine would have brought greater discomfort, maybe affecting her health altogether. But on the positive side, the path to the village passed through a park which had a stream (or a creek) running alongside the path, which became a boardwalk when ever the stream meandered underneath it. The rain had swelled the stream to full flow, and to me there is something very spiritual about a fast flowing brook. Both path and stream were at the foot of a forest-covered hill, with branches of trees providing some form of shelter from the rain.

When we arrived at the village church, we went inside and I knelt down and gave thanks to God for all his goodness, including the rain, which plays a major role in sustaining life by feeding our rivers, lakes and reservoirs as well as turning all the lovely vegetation around us to a deep, rich green, a sign of good health. When we arrived back at the beach, I practically danced and rejoiced in the goodness of God, no matter how ugly and unattractive the weather had made the coastline to be. Although it rained hard, we sauntered back into Torquay town centre in high spirits, to look forward to the plate of hot steak and kidney pie and potato chips (fries) at a local fish restaurant.

With seaweed for company, we felt jubilation as it rained on the beach.

Wet weather can easily get us down and make us feel depressed and gloomy. Public opinion, backed by the Media, endorse this, and has led to the sprouting of a highly prosperous tourism industry, with multiple millions of Brits heading for sunshine every year. But the cool temperate climate of the UK is due to its rather isolated position between the vast Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the North Sea on the other. Britain is also at the right lateral position for the warm, moist air carried by the North Atlantic Drift to meet the cold Polar air, resulting in these low pressure swirls which brings the rain. Because this is a fallen world due to sin our present global climate, including our cool temperate, is the best to sustain all life. For a new, better creation to come into being, God will have to intervene and put away sin forever and to usher in perfect righteousness. This is the definite promise that only God will keep and fulfil. And for everyone who have believed on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation can look forward to an eternity with God in a magnificent new creation which will never be spoilt by sin again.

Nor for that matter, wet weather.


  1. A really edifying post that I enjoyed reading immensely Frank! It sounds as though you had a really good time in Devon, and that steak and kidney pie and chips is the type of meal I just love on holidays! I can taste it now!

    I'm glad that you took every day as it came; that's the best way to be. I'm also glad that, like me, you love to walk long distances and just take in the air and the countryside and the green fields and hills and the like. I've never been to the English Riviera but I suspect one day I will go, and I know I'll enjoy it a whole lot.

    By the way, love the photographs!

  2. Hi Frank,
    What a lovely holiday you and your wife have had. I know a lot of people do moan about the wet weather in the UK but I have to say I love everything about this 'Island'. I think that each of the four countries in the UK has its individual beauty, all different. We lived in Australia for some time, in three different states, three different times. The last time we returned home I had complete jet lag after not having sleep for nearly two days. We were going to live in Lancashire with my brother until we found a place to live. Although I was exhausted, on the bus journey from Heathrow to Lancashire I had to stay awake. I could not get over the colours of the earth, the fields, the trees...everything. I had forgotton how vibrant they were through being in a country that has so much sun. We enjoyed our life in Aussie, but there is no where else we would want to live other than our beautifully watered UK.

  3. I agree that we know there have always been warm and cold spells on earth. We have only been recording temperatures for a few years, but are trying to extrapolate back thousands of years without sufficient data. The conclusions often conflict with the evidence.

    We have not had measurable precipitation since the first of the year and would welcome some of what you are getting.

  4. I have never traveled to the UK. The pictures are great. It makes me a little sad that I will never see it in person.

  5. We in Poland have very changeable weather. For example, in summer we have one day rain with only +12 degrees, but day after we have +35 degrees with sun. In winter is this same. But I thank God, that He know, what is good for us.

  6. "This is the day that Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" - whatever the weather!

    So far as I can see after the flood rain in Scripture is a blessing.