As I was driving in the car a few weeks ago, I saw a rainbow. Not just any old run of the mill rainbow, but a full on entire rainbow. From one side of the sky to the other. Brilliant colors, each clearly distinguishable in a ROY G. BIV kinda way. It was pretty fantastic!
I don’t know about you, but I always get excited about seeing a rainbow! I love the majesty of God’s creation! And my kids will tell you that whenever I see a rainbow, or a red-tailed hawk, or a brilliant sunset, or a big fat full moon glowing up in the night sky, or whatever, I will exclaim, “Look!! Look!! A rainbow (or whatever thing it may be)!! Y’all come out here and look at this! It’s beautiful! Isn’t it beautiful??”
(In fact, the other day, Emma was making fun of me because I was exclaiming over a cute little baby anole lizard. Whatevs. I know I’m a goob. I simply can’t help myself.)
But for the first time in all my rainbow-loving years, on that particular day, as I was admiring that fantastic rainbow, this occurred to me: I realized that you can only see rainbows from far away.
Silly me. Of course, you can only see rainbows from far away—everyone knows that.
But bear with me here, okay? Because sometimes I need the obvious things repeated. I’m special that way. <wink> And, in this case, I believe it was one of those quiet little things that God shows us, just because He loves us and is saying to us, “Trust Me.”
So, you see the rainbow from afar and it is glorious! As you begin to approach the rainbow, you can’t see it as well. And when you are right under a rainbow, you can’t see it at all.
It’s all about perspective.
It made me think about how when you are looking at your circumstances from a distance, things appear one way. When you have walked a little further into those circumstances, they may look different. Then, when you are looking at a situation entirely after the fact—only then can you see the beauty or the value of it.
I think we can all recall such situations.
I remember when I was the mother of a 3 year old and a three month old and we were about to move across the country from North Carolina, where all our family was, to Texas, where we knew no one.
From a distance, it was hard for me to see that any good could come out of that. But it was happening—that much was clear. I always try to see a silver lining, though, and was grateful for my husband’s new job.
In the midst of the “wilderness”, as I call our Texas experience (no offense, Texas peeps!!), there were many difficult struggles—the horrendous, oppressive and relentless heat; the loneliness; the mothering of toddlers, one of whom we were just learning had autism. There was so much I didn’t understand. But there were also blessings—a wonderful church home; great neighbors; sisters in Christ who lifted me up and mentored me; closeness to my husband; a deeper dependence on the Lord than I had ever experienced up to that point in my life.
But on the other side of that two year time in Texas, I could see clearly that the reason God had placed us there, in that seemingly God forsaken place, during that season of time, (besides the obvious driving me to my knees!) was to see to it that Jacob was in a preschool class with a precious teacher whose son was very much like Jacob and who could gently say to us, in love, “hey, did you ever notice…”—even though it was hard for her to say, and hard for us to hear. It was so clear that God placed in our path people who could help us deal with our son’s challenges, direct us toward a diagnosis and help start us on our way.
Clearly, that was the beauty. The rainbow. And it is so easy to see now. In the moment, though? Not so much.
In the midst of our personal storms, we aren’t often able to see the value or the beauty of that storm in our lives. Life can be messy, and sometimes, things will get worse before they get better. Sometimes we are so overcome with our fear, anxiety, or stress, that we can only see the storm raging around us, much like Peter as he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the stormy seas. And then Peter suddenly found himself taking a swim! (Matthew 14:24-33 NLT) The beauty, the gift, is only most clear after that storm is over—when you look at it with some perspective and some distance. And when you let God say to you, “See? I had you covered all along! You only needed to trust Me.”
Friends, in the midst of those most trying and desperate of storms, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and off of our emotions and the circumstances, or else we will surely drown. Because when we are focused on those other things, we will not be able to see His hand reaching out to us to pull us out of the raging waters. Trust that the storm will end and trust that there will be beauty at the end of it. Trust in the promise of the ultimate beauty of eternity.
The rainbow has come to mean different things to different people. To me, the rainbow is not just a rainbow—some pretty thing to look at—or some symbol adopted by a group of people—it is a reminder to trust in the Lord and know that He keeps His promises. (Genesis 9:8-17 NLT) It reminds me that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV) That we can have peace in the midst of the storms. (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) And that He will carry us through the storms of our lives and give us beautiful reminders of His great love for us.
Look for the beauty, even when there doesn’t appear to be any. Look for the rainbows and trust in the Lord’s plans and purposes. And look for His hand. You can trust that it is there.