April showers bring May flowers, and wherever you live the spring is usually filled with rain showers. For some the rain can be dreary and depressing, for others it brings hope and inspiration. Often times after rain, there is a renewed sense of life and hope that is displayed through flowers and wildlife. James Samuel Gutshall was inspired one cold January night in 1986 while deep in prayer. Gutshall received a poem from the Lord and swiftly jumped out of bed. In seconds, he had written his first poem. This would be his only poem for another twenty years until he wrote “Breakers” in 1996.
His latest work, Sweet Gentle Rain is more than just a compilation of short stories or poems. It is a spiritual masterpiece that restores and uplifts the soul. Each poem draws from the simple beauty of life and weaves godly wisdom and inspiration into every word. From the sparkling of the sea, to the precious gift of his two daughters, Gutshall reveals some of the ways God infuses Himself into the intricate details of life and the peace that comes from knowing the Creator on an intimate level.
“May he endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. In his days may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.” Psalm 72:5-7
Gutshall shares his hope for his book of poetry.
“My hope for this book “Sweet Gentle Rain” is that it will inspire you to get closer to the Lord and you will feel the Holy Spirit wind its way throughout the poems. I received my first poem when I was in deep prayer. I received 12 more poems about 20 years later. After that I started thinking about putting a book together with picture illustrations that match each poem. This book carries a message that brings hope, wisdom and encouragement to all ages.”
Accompanying each poem is a heartwarming photograph or painting, evoking beautiful visual imagery that harmonizes with Gutshall’s words. Reminiscent of the Psalms, the poems read like tranquil praises and fill the audience with a sense of peace, wonderment and contentment. Sweet Gentle Rain will touch the heart of the seasoned believer as well as those new in their faith and anyone who desires to draw closer to their Heavenly Father. Gutshall hopes to inspire readers young and old with his poetry.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:44-46
Gutshall reflects on how often the times after the rain can bring about healing and hope.
“We all go through trials and tribulations in our lives. I call them storms! Some more severe than others. I learned at an early age that we all get stung once or twice and then realize that’s just part of life. (Ladybugs and Squirrels poem) So we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue on our journey even when the going gets tough (Glory of Autumn poem). I’ve weathered many storms in my life and know that with my strong faith in my Protector, I can weather any storm forever and ever (Weathering the Storm poem).”
Be renewed. Instead of letting the rain and the storms of life get you down, change your perspective. Think about the beauty that comes after the rain. Take time to pray and ask God to give you that perspective. Reflect on verses and stories in the Bible of characters who had to weather trials and tribulations. Look at how they turned to God and how he answered their prayers. Storms can be difficult. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, small group leader or pastor to pray with you and share what is going on. Remember that you are not alone. God has given us a body of believers to walk alongside you and support you.
Use your talents. Whether it is writing, music, dance or speaking, use your gifts to glorify God. It is important to make sure that you are being a good steward with the gifts and talents God has entrusted you with. Take time this week and pray and ask God how he wants you to use your gifts.
Help restore others. The rain can bring healing and renewal to the land. In the same way, a friend who listens and cares while another friend is going through a difficult time, can bring restoration. If you are not sure how you can help, reach out to a friend in need and ask them how you can help. It might be as simple as bringing a meal or grabbing coffee and listening to their situation. If the situation is difficult or requires a professional counselor, as a friend, you can encourage your friend to get help and even offer to go with them.