Rainbows. Rainbows are very special to me. God showed me a rainbow after one of the hardest days of my life. It was a dark time. I didn’t know what it meant then, but I knew I was supposed to remember it so I wrote about it in my journal. I was 19 at the time. Years later, I can now reflect back on that rainbow and know God had a message for me in it. Grace. Grace that I would come to receive years later.
Rainbows were a topic I revisited this month in a little homemade VBS with the kids of Will’s Bible study. It was precious! The last day was rainbow day. We made rainbow necklaces with fruit loops and I read them the story about Noah and God’s promise through the rainbow. The Jesus Storybook Bible says “a rainbow is a beautiful bow made of light, a promise that God’s war bow is not pointing down at his people but up into the heart of heaven.” Wow. The arrow of God’s wrath is pointed at Jesus, not at us. Amazing grace.
My family departed on a beach trip the next day with my extended family to the same beach I’ve been to all my life. Every year. It is a place with many wonderful memories of ice cream and hot dogs and childhood fun; the magical kind of childhood memories. But it also has many memories from my high school and college years and after, ones I would love not to revisit. If my sinful nature had a place, this would be it. You can walk streets and remember what it felt like and even smelled like to be a beast (see Beauty and the Beast post :)). That juxtaposed with a new identity in Christ and now being there with my own children was a lot to take in.
I prayed a prayer on the way there, “God, will you restore the place?” God restores ALL, and has even restored days of the calendar for me. So I asked Him to please restore the place, to wipe it clean of those regretful memories and make it new. We arrived at the beach after a full day in the car, and the kids couldn’t wait to see the ocean. We heard thunder, but put on our bathing suits anyway and ran down the sandy path out onto the beach to go touch the ocean. And there it was. The most beautiful rainbow. Breathtaking. Knock out. Beautiful. Big and wide and stretched perfectly across that familiar ocean view. “God, will you restore the place?” And the answer in Jesus is always YES. I told a good friend this and she said, “the rainbow is such a beautiful sign from Jesus. He adores you, Katie.” And I received it. YES. He does adore me. He has hung his bow in the clouds for me. And for you. His love is sometimes hard to comprehend. It’s in moments like this we can do nothing but receive it and thank Him.
One evening later in the week, the sun was hidden behind the clouds, and its visible rays were shining out from behind them, reaching toward where we were. The crowd had gone in from the beach and it was just Will and the kids and me. They were running and skipping and chasing sea gulls and gleefully praising God for the beach. I looked at those sun rays and pointed them out to the kids. “That’s God reaching down here,” I said. Sometimes heaven invades earth and we get a little taste of it. Moments when time stands still and we touch eternity that He has set in our hearts. God will you restore the place? YES.
But this is just one place and I am just one person in this one moment. There are many people around the globe who are living in places where horrible things are happening to them and around them. Right now. Things far harder than I can even imagine on my beach vacation. Places where if they escaped and came back it would be like Jenny in Forrest Gump where she throws rocks at that old house and collapses in the mud and sobs. “Will you restore those places?” YES.
God, we praise you…for your promise to restore ALL of the places. Places our feet have walked, places our hearts have gone, places from our past, places we have not yet seen. Every single place. “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5.
Please use us as your hands and feet. To help point people to your rainbows and all that You promise us.
“They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations…
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.” Isaiah 61:4,7
“I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31:4
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1-5