Thursday, August 7, 2008

WALKING BUDDIES: Part 6 - God of the Rainbow - August 2, 2008

I have set my rainbow in the clouds…
Genesis 9:13

“So how was the movie?” I inquired. My husband, Rex, and our four-year-old daughter had just spent quality time together at the theater viewing, “Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.” Bethany—our own little Rainbow Brite—was tired, but thrilled by the experience. Dad, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. He complained about their crick-in-the-neck, front-section seating. “I missed the last part of the move,” he confessed contritely. He had fallen asleep.

According to the official website of Rainbow Brite, the heroine was a precocious young girl named Wisp who was endowed with special powers and commissioned to rescue Rainbow Land from a spell of total darkness and emptiness. In order to do this, she has to find “the sphere of light.” During her quest, she finds a baby who turns out to be the sphere of light. Rainbow Brite fights the Dark One and restores Rainbow Land to its original beauty.

Hmm… where have I heard this plot before? I recognize some themes: saving a people from darkness; a light to lighten the darkness; a baby, who is, in fact, the Light; fighting the Dark One; restoration. The story of Rainbow Brite contains striking parallels with the Biblical account of God’s grace in Jesus. Rainbow Brite, like other fairy tales, is a story of good versus evil, a story of redemption.

The rainbow is a fascination woven like colorful threads into the fabric of many religions and mythologies. To the early Greeks, the rainbow represented a path connecting earth and heaven. In the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” the rainbow is “the jeweled necklace of the Great Mother Ishtar.” It is impossible to consider the rainbow without pondering the amusing Irish tale of the leprechaun hiding its gold in a pot at the end of the rainbow.

In the Bible, the first rainbow appears following the flood, as a symbol: “Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. 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…” (Genesis 9:11-13 NIV)

On a spiritual level, the rainbow is a refreshing symbol of hope and promise, a reminder of God’s love, faithfulness and grace. However, the skepticism and disillusionment of our age clouds the powerful promise of the rainbow. The phrase, “chasing rainbows,” (referring to the pursuit of an illusory or false hope), captures our jaded relationship with the rainbow. There is no pot at the end of the rainbow. Even if there were, it is impossible to reach the rainbow.

I always thought that God gave the rainbow to help us remember his promise. But listen to this: Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant.” (Genesis 9:14-15 NIV) Of course, it is encouraging to us to see a rainbow and remember God’s covenant, but God has tied a rainbow ‘round his finger to remind himself of his promise.

I hope someday to view a rainbow from the window of an airplane. The globe on which we stand blocks our view, but from the sky, it is possible to see that the rainbow is a complete circle. God gave St. John a vision of heaven in which, “a rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.” (Revelation 4:3 NIV) I may never get to see a rainbow from the air, but I sure look forward to seeing the heavenly version.

In the meantime, God’s rainbow promise encircles us with protection and encouragement in the storms of life. God’s golden grace cannot be contained in a pot, at the end of the rainbow, or any place else. God’s abundant grace is at his fingertips. I wonder if it just a coincidence that the first time grace appears in the Bible is in Genesis 6:8: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (KJV)

Isn’t it just like God to have grace in his eyes?

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