May 15: Hope is a Rainbow and a Promise

"I don't know where to look for the rainbow, mom!"

We had been watching the front blow in for a while now.

From our perch atop a hill, we saw the clouds rolling in long before we heard the pitter patter of any droplets. Eager to leave the sanctuary inside at the first sight of sun peeping through, we rushed out onto the porch in search of the bow of many colors.

The clouds pulled back like a blanket and beams of gold shone on the ground below, but there wasn't a rainbow to be found in the air of excitement.

"I can't find it, mom! It has to be here somewhere, though right?"

From our wraparound porch growing up, we had seen many a rainbow over the years, and I knew that when the sun came out during a rainstorm there was sure to be one.

The trick is to turn your back to the sun, momma said, and you'll be sure to find it then.


The kids were crazy in the car and we couldn't get home fast enough. The quiet game had been a flop and no one had any more craps to give about being a team player, including us. 

The sky had looked ominous for a while now, and we were less then ten minutes from home when the big, fat raindrops began to pound our windshield. 

Great. I thought. We made it this whole time without any rain and it arrives just in time for us to unload at home in a downpour.

There's a special clause in the hell that is Murphy's Law that applies specifically to parents who are already having a bad day. I'm convinced of this. 

The rain came fast and fierce, but after just a few minutes the black clouds parted and brilliant, unmistakable rays of sun pierced through, lighting the road in front of us. The rain had slowed but was still falling, and a light mist rose from the grass around us. 

"The sun's out now, so that means there should be a rainbow somewhere," I said to my husband. I started looking around but didn't see anything yet. Maybe it's too soon, I thought. 

"No, there it is," he replied, pointing. "I can see it in the rear view mirror."

And as I turned my back to the sun and peered over my shoulder, sure enough, there it was. Clear as day, an entire bow. Double even. 

I'm sure there were better photos to be had in Cleveland today, but we didn't pull over and get one. It was beautiful, though. The kids loved it and squealed with joy until it disappeared from sight. And as we drove over the valley, the curtain of grey rain still visible in the distance, I quietly marveled at a promise made long ago by an eternally faithful God.

Because a rainbow is only visible when we turn our back to the Son.

When life is a storm and we feel like we're overwhelmed by the torrents blowing our way

When we're drowning in the accumulation of our tears 

When we look around us and fateful circumstance is all we can see

When we're discouraged by the wickedness of the world

The very moment we begin to doubt, slowly turning our back to the Son

He reminds us with a bow of many colors that there's always hope. Because He never breaks a promise. 

Never again will he destroy the earth with the salty ocean of his tears. Never again will he give up on us. Never again could we become so wicked, so selfish, so violent or destructive that He would turn His wrath on us.

For although we will turn our back on the Son time and time again, never again will He turn His back on us.

Though we turn our back on Him, His mercy and faithfulness will forever be displayed in a rainbow on the darkest of days to remind us. Because we so easily forget.

No matter how bad things get, there's always hope.

He promised.

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9:12-16

January 5: There is No Mess Too Big {for God} to Clean Up

Uh oh, momma... He kinda winces and looks my way. I thought the cap was still on and I squeezed it and... 

Applesauce splattered all over the floor.

I can see a glimmer of my past reactions in his eyes as he sizes me up, wondering what I'll do.

Oh, it's okay, buddy, I respond from the kitchen sink where I'm doing dishes. I'll clean it up in a minute when I'm done. No worries. There's no mess too big to clean up.

I paused at the thought, looking up from the sink and out the window. I caught a glimpse of the Lord's heart in those words, streaming in like the warm rays of sunshine through the kitchen window. Splashing light all over the table and brightening the room. Promising to warm every heart to His will if we let Him.

You know, kids, I continued, there's no mess too big to clean up, even for God. He's bigger than any mess we could ever make.

What if there was poop all over the house? the boy asks, as boys do. Always something with the bodily functions.

Well, that would sure be a big, gross mess, but we could still clean it up. 

There's no mess of a life, no mess of a promise, no mess of a relationship, no mess of an addiction, no mess of loss or destruction so big that the Lord isn't bigger still, that the Lord isn't able to clean up by His forgiveness and grace.

There may not be any more applesauce to go around, because actions have consequences, but He can sure clean it up off the floor and give you a fresh start.

A start from the place of redemption, healing, forgiveness, and wholeness.

So, kids, we're in this messy life together, you and me and God. We're all on the same team here. Because Lord knows our sin is going to spill all over each other--words we wish we could take back, promises broken, trust squandered--and we'll just have to work together to clean it up. We'll work together to make it right, for as long as it takes.

Because kids, there's also beauty and purpose in the mess. There's beauty in the brokenness. It's really a gift, you see, because it's only when we're completely broken, out of options, and up against a wall that we realize how very little control we actually have over this life. That the control we thought we had was merely an illusion, propped up by circumstance and possessions and health.

When we can look at the mess for what it is and, as a result, see God more clearly--clearly see that we are not Him--that, kids, is one of the greatest gifts.

He promises that if we humble ourselves before Him, that He will lift us up.

Oh, how we need that, kids. To be humbled, that is. He humbles us out of His great love for us, so that it may go well with us all of our days. To teach us that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord {Deuteronomy 8:3}.

The mess reminds us of our humanness, our fallibility. It points us toward the only One capable of making all things new, throwing us fresh into the arms of His warm and redeeming grace. If it weren't for some spilled applesauce every once in a while, we might get to thinking we could navigate this whole messy life on our own.

Don't you forget that, kids.

...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. {2 Chronicles 7:14}