Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rainbows in the Night

I was asked to do a guest post on deni Weber’s website, 
Today’s Encouraging Words. 

     Click here to view deni’s page and read how God has used rainbows to encourage her at key times, and currently as she walks with her husband through an intense health crisis in his life. 

      I had not known that rainbows are so special to deni when I sent my devotional to her. I love how God works behind the scenes to help us in our times of need. 

Praises and thanks be to Him! 

Rainbows in the Night

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, 
and it will be the sign of the covenant
 between me and the earth”
(Genesis 9:13).

As children we thought they held treasures with pots of gold at each end. 

Don’t we all perk up when we see an actual rainbow in the sky? They can surprise us as we happen upon them. When rain has washed the sky and the sun quickly emerges, I look for a rainbow! If I am alert, I may see one.
Yet in this Scripture, we are told
 that God sets his rainbow in the cloud. 
His covenant is in the cloud? 
How can something so bright be shut inside darkened heaviness? 

Rainbows are a bounty arching forth as clouds’ heaviness can no longer contain the build up of water vapor. It spills back to earth as rain. The sun can splash prisms of color to celebrate this release.
 I understand the principle of clouds releasing rain but I never have set out to look for clouds.
Clouds pale, literally, when the sun splashes the prism of colors and a rainbow bursts forth. 

     What of the times our lives seem shadowed, overwhelmed with the daily challenges we each face? 

 We don’t always see the sun. Another Scripture helps me to respond to this question.
“[Nothing] will be able to separate us 
from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” 
(Romans 8:39b).

God’s covenant with us has not changed. All his promises lie within us where he dwells. The clouds may loom heavy but he towers with more power.

God and His promises cannot be separated. 
Our circumstances, our minds, our feelings can become clouded. Fears may bring heaviness, so dark.  Yet  the light of the rainbow inside us comes from God’s Presence. He has promises to give.

I can water the promises into view, so to speak, when I relax and allow God to release the rain, to carry my burdens, to care for me by his shining forth. His light tramples darkness, releasing his prism of promises.
 I want to focus, not on the heaviness, but on the colors about to emerge.
I rejoice 
that the colors of the rainbow 
shine forth 
your hope, 
announcing your everlasting covenant with me. 

My relationship is not with the darkness 
and heaviness of clouds, 
but with you, the Light in my life. 

Photo by Lynn

Friday, February 1, 2013

Living in the Questions

This blog entry is a revision of an article of mine that was published in Rest Ministries’ Hopekeepers magazine. It appeared in the 
January/February/March issue, 2006. 

Living in the Questions

My first Bible is a bit heavier than when I first received it as a gift from a friend decades ago. Yes, it contains the life- giving words of God; many of them underlined as they have given me inspiration over the years. Dates are scribbled by them and often a note of what was happening in my life a the time. Yet strewn among its many pages, I’ve other mementos: 

 a few favorite photos of loved ones, 
 timely words of encouragement from friends,
 a  scrawled note from one of my third grade students
 in 1988 saying, 
Miss S you are nise,

a very dried eucalyptus leaf I snitched from a tree 
at sunrise by the Sea of Galilee,

a dried bougainvillea bloom from Cana in Galilee,

and other paper bits that hold significance for me.

Close to thirty years ago, I cut out a written piece in a church bulletin and added it to this collection. To the best of my recall, it was written by Chuck Swindoll. It is but a small scrap, so tiny that there are times I have not been able to find it when purposely looking for it!  It reads:
“It is your future.
Don’t back into it.
Don’t grope into 
its mists blindfolded.
Put the hand of your faith 
into the Hand of God.
Get used to His voice.
He warns you of dangers 
and of strangers.
He leads you to experience 
His prepared future.
It does not disappoint.
There is always more
 for those 
who walk with Him.
He straightens question marks
 into exclamation points!”

Many questions about my future were present when I first read these thoughts. More have emerged over these ensuing years. 

There is my daily challenge since 1983
with vestibular dysfunction, 
constant dizziness, 
flares of internal spinning of literal vertigo and
related visual and balance issues.

I underwent breast cancer surgery 
in 1987 and
 chemotherapy treatments for six months.

There was my early retirement 
from my teaching career in 1992,

the death of loved ones,

wonderings about decisions 
that needed to be made in many areas,

and the list could go on. 

Somewhere along the trail of my life with this bulletin excerpt, I got to thinking more deeply about the message it presented. I came to a conclusion that brought me an encouraging perspective.

What could it mean - what would it look like - to really live within the questions in my life? 

A question marks the spot of a seeking moment.
 It stops me. 
I  want the right answer. 
I  want it now!

Often I discover that the right answer requires a different timing than my  insistent now. In such cases all I can really do is wait. 

I picture the literal configuration of the punctuation question mark with its curves and swirl. 

What if I were to crawl right into a question mark? 
This would curl me into the fetal position as in the birth canal, 
quietly waiting upon the Lord. 

I would need to depend upon him much as I had to totally depend upon him during my own gestation time. Then, I had no other option but to wait. Now, I can make a choice on how I will wait. 

When the answer is ready, 
the birthing takes place
reconfigures the question mark   ? 
 into an exclamation point   !  .

Right timing, 
God’s timing. 
Right answer, 
 God’s answer.

Although I now keep this scrap of paper in my Bible with the Deuteronomy verses noted here
it could very well rest within other pages with highlighted inspiration,
perhaps some of these excerpts.

This first Scripture verse stayed me during the years I worked with primary aged students as an
 elementary classroom teacher! 

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
 he will gather the lambs in his arms, 
he will carry them in his bosom,and
 gently lead those that are with young”
(Isaiah 40:11 RSV).

July 5,1979 
sunrise on 
the Sea of Galilee

I was alone watching the sunrise that morning. What a gift of time alone with God, watching Him start the day. I was led to the verse below. It reminded me of Jesus' need to seek the Father, question, grieve, wait for answers.

“Now when Jesus heard this, 
[death of John, the Baptist]
he withdrew from there in a boat 
to a lonely place apart” 
(Matthew 14:13a RSV)

July 6, 1979
inscription on the wall 
of the church in Cana of Galilee

“Cana proclaims to us that Jesus 
is the Lord Almighty 
Who turns water into wine,
Who can still today, 
by one word, 
transform anything:
sorrow into joy,
mountains of difficulty 
into straight paths.
Do we bring our needs to him?”

August 7, 1987
This Scripture was given to me the morning of my cancer surgery.

He reached from on high, he took me,
he drew me out of many waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy,
 and from those who hated me;
  for they were too mighty for me”

(Psalm 18:16-17 RSV).

February, 1988
This is a love note from my Mom 
at the completion 
of my chemotherapy treatments! 


The call on my life to be an encourager:

comfort my people,
says your God” 
(Isaiah 40:1 RSV)

Oh, there are many encouragements such as these strewn throughout my well-worn Bible. 

The paper bits of mementos and noted verses reflect the asking and the answering of some but not all questions. There will always be more. If I choose to live in the questions, I am less likely to wander far. I want to be near to hear God’s voice exclaim the answers when His time is right. 

 “For everything there is 
a season, 
and a time for every matter 
under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 RSV).

Photo by Lynn