In 2006 our family was excited to go to the New Year’s Day Rose Parade with some friends, but when we got up early that morning it was raining and cold with 30 mph winds gusting. It hadn’t rained on the Rose Parade in 51 years! What do you do when it rains on your parade? We decided to look at it as an adventure and go anyway! I will never forget my experience.
Our friend Casey worked for AAA at the time and his job was to standby in a tow truck near the end of the parade route just in case a float broke down. He provided us with free front row seats inside the cab of his large truck! We were comfy and toasty warm as we waited for the parade to start and listened to the rainfall. But the people standing on the street were being chilled to the bone by the pelting rain and freezing gusts of wind.
As the parade approached I surprised everyone when I turned to my son David, fifteen years old at the time, and exclaimed, “Let’s go out in the rain and watch the parade!”
At first it was really exciting for us to be up close to the flower-full floats, feel the music of the bands reverberate in our bodies, and look into the eyes of all the performers. We were so close we felt like we were in the parade! And we were still warm from having been snuggled in the heated truck and our umbrellas were keeping us mostly dry. It was a father-son bonding moment for us.
Then we got wetter and wetter and colder and colder. To make matters worse, my umbrella came apart in the wind! Soon I was soaked and there was a puddle inside my shoes! David had enough, as had many of the other spectators, and so I was left standing alone shivering in the rain.
I looked over at my family and friends all cozy in the truck. They were waving at me to come in and join them. It was tempting to get back in the truck and share my experience with them by shaking myself dry like a shaggy dog!
I looked back at the greeters on the floats and the students marching in their bands — they needed encouragement! Imagine how it would feel to have spent months preparing and anticipating basking in Southern California sunshine on the stage of the world famous Rose Parade only to find yourself soaked in freezing rain with nobody there to watch and cheer for you!
We were positioned at the end of the five mile parade route and by the time the performers were exhausted. They were shivering. Some were crying. A few got sick and had to quit. Almost no one was smiling. The baton twirler kept dropping her slippery baton. Even the flowers on the floats were drooping!
Suddenly the benediction of Moses came into my mind: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face to shine on you and be gracious unto you. May he lift up his countenance upon you and give you his peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
So I started to pray God’s blessing on the performers. Then I was inspired to start raining on the parade with shouts of encouragement to the performers like “Thank you!” “Great job!” “We appreciate you!” and “God bless you!” Now and again, as people went by they acknowledged me with a look, a wave, or a smile. But it seemed like I wasn’t having much effect – except losing my voice! For every person within earshot that acknowledged my support with a smile, there were 50 more that apparently didn’t even notice.
Then one of the band directors heard my words of encouragement and he looked right at me, smiled, and said, “Thanks for coming!” Later, a few others offered similar appreciation. Then I noticed that one of the spectators who had stayed standing in the rain not too far from me had joined me in shouting words of thanks to the performers.
What do to when it rains on your parade? As the last float went by, I looked up into the heavens to see not just the rainfall but the smile of the Lord. I thanked him that he had blessed me to be a blessing by loving my neighbors as he loves me (Mark 12:30-31). I experienced the truth of the Proverb, “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed” (11:25, MSG).
What “one thing” are you focusing on for the New Year? It’s a much better approach than the typical New Year’s Resolutions.