“O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God;
… he has poured down for you abundant rain…
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions…”
(Joel 2:23, 27, 28)
The scriptures give us countless views of the coming Kingdom of God, a time when wrongs will be righted, uneven ground will be leveled out, inequalities will be erased, hungers will be fed. The proud will be humbled, and the downtrodden will be lifted up. The rich will be emptied, and the empty will be filled.
The prophet Joel goes a step further: God won’t just even out the scales the way a careful scientist shifts a gram at a time to achieve perfect balance, or the way an accountant tallies dollars and cents to balance the books. The God of abundance will pour out bucketsfull, waterfalls, downpours, splashing onto bone-dry fields and urging up new sprouts of grain, new vines climbing their trellises, new olives on the trees. God will pour out wonders: a feast that satisfies all hungers, a community with the Presence at its heart, a life together free from shame. God will pour out, like the cup that overflows, and the years of thirst will be a distant memory, drowned out by praise.
The God of abundance will pour out, filling more than fields and cups and stomachs. God will pour out God’s own Spirit, filling the hearts and minds and mouths of men and women, young and old, master and slave. From the top of the ladder to the bottommost rungs, the Spirit, that abundant, uncontainable, irrepressible Spirit will pour into–and out of–the most unlikely prophets. Their heads will be full of divine dreams, and their eyes drawn to bright visions. Inspired by the Spirit, they’ll proclaim the Kingdom, interpret God’s works, show the way to redemption. Inspired by the Spirit, the people who listen will perceive the wondrous overflowing love of God, and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Joel 2:32a)
When resources are scarce, we scrimp and save, weighing each gram and counting each penny, but God’s resources are boundless, and we can receive and share and celebrate them as richly as they are given. God doesn’t call disciples, or preachers, or prophets out of desperation, but out of abundance! God doesn’t need to call women just because there aren’t enough men. God doesn’t need to call millennials just because the Baby Boom is retiring. God pours through them all, because in a parched world there is no such thing as too much of the quenching Word.