My An Arkie's Faith column from the July 26, 2023, issue of The Polk County Pulse.
A few raindrops began to fall as we pulled out of the parking lot. Off in the distance, the skies looked dark and foreboding, and the thunder rolled. We were headed back to Arvada, Colorado, after spending the afternoon at my great niece's wedding rehearsal and dinner in Campion. Before getting on the highway, we drove through our old neighborhood. We moved from our house on Hankins Lane to Mena, Arkansas, over forty years ago.
As we drove through Berthoud and Longmont, the rain intensified, and the clouds were dark and angry to the south and east, with occasional lightning. But to the west, the sun was shining brightly on the mountains. I snapped a quick photo through the windshield while we were stopped at a traffic light in Longmont. With the dark grey skies to the south and the apartments on the east side of the road lit brilliantly by the low angle of the evening sun shining from the west, the contrasts made a striking photo.
The rain continued to fall, and before long, a rainbow's fuzzy, muted colors appeared in the sky. A few minutes later, the colors had intensified into one of the boldest and most colorful rainbows I had ever seen. We pulled off the road to try and get a photo. While I was taking pictures, a faint second rainbow appeared. After taking several images, I returned to the truck, and we tried to get back on the highway. The traffic was heavy, and it was impossible to cross the road to go in the direction we needed. We could merge into traffic headed in the direction we had just come from.
We drove to the next intersection, where we turned left and then pulled into a parking lot to get turned around. By this time, two complete rainbows were arcing across the sky. I had never seen a double rainbow that filled the sky from horizon to horizon. I stood in awe of the beauty before me.
A rainbow is a natural phenomenon that occurs when light is refracted or bent as it passes through water droplets in the air. It is seen as a band of vibrant colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The colors of the rainbow are arranged in a specific order and are caused by the different wavelengths of light being refracted at different angles. Double rainbows are formed when sunlight is reflected twice within a raindrop.
Rainbows always make me smile, and seeing a double rainbow was a fantastic experience. Seeing the double rainbow made it worth going through the rain. It was a moment in time that I will never forget.
Do you like the rain? I tend not to like rain very much, especially if I have an outdoor activity or work planned. We don't like rain unless we have crops that need water. Few of us look out the window on a rainy day and say, "What a great day!" The rain gets in the way of our comfort.
Too often, we let the possibility of something going wrong keep us from doing something we want. "But what if something goes wrong," we say. "What if it rains on my parade." We fail to reach our potential in life because we are too timid. But, "God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
And God is telling you the same thing. Don't let fear of failure keep you from doing great things. Don't let the threat of rain keep you from being all God wants you to be.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a very personal poem titled "The Rainy Day." The poem's first lines read, "The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary." He personalizes his thoughts in the second stanza, "My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary." But Longfellow doesn't leave us in his dark place. The final stanza says, "Be still, sad heart! And cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary."
Into every life, a little rain must fall. It's what we do with the rain that makes the difference. Rain can be a force that destroys our lives and washes away hope, or it can become a tool God uses to bring healing, growth, and new life to our hearts.
What are we afraid of when the rains of this life come our way? Are we afraid of getting wet? Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that we won't get wet. Pain in all its forms is the standard universal human denominator we all share. Your pain and difficulties differ from mine, but we all have them.
We see this concept in Matthew 5:45 (GW): "He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust." God doesn't tell us that we won't have rainy days. He says, "Even if it rains, I will be there for you. You may get wet, but it will be OK." And sometimes rain brings a beautiful rainbow. "When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth." Genesis 9:16 (NLT)
Gentle Reader, God displayed a visible reminder to me of His everyday grace with the double rainbow. It reminded me of His promise to extend a common grace to all living things. How often do we take that promise for granted? I know that often the busyness of my life makes me lose my focus on God even though the evidence of His daily grace is all around me. This week, I pray that I will not lose focus but instead remember the rainbow and God's promises.