Rainbows require two weather extremes: rain and sun, at the same time. Not a median between them, say cloudy weather with dim sunshine, or a light pleasant mist. Rather both seemingly polar truths held together. In other words, paradox.
Which is how GK Chesterton explains faith, and God. Mercy and Justice, the ultimate depths of each, simultaneously. Sovereignty and Choice. Life and Death. Beauty and Brokenness. We have a human tendency to mute one with the other, to seek a comfortable compromise that keeps our minds from being stretched. But truth requires us to embrace paradox.
This weekend we headed with Caleb out to Breckenridge to spend about 40 hours on the ranch of friends (where I spent 40 days on retreat two years ago). These people are wise and generous and have blessed us with respite and space. Their ranch is a place where spiritual unseen reality breaks through. So when we got on the road in the evening after a full day of Air Force events and passed into rainy weather, it was a little disappointing at first. Then just as the sun was setting Caleb looked back and noticed this rainbow. It was even more spectacular in real life, glorious depth of color and a full double arch. We pulled off the road in awe, whipped by strong wind and bathed in golden light. The next morning we awoke to more rain with a full arch brilliant rainbow outside the window. In spite of rain we hiked all day, with alternating moments of sun and storm, and more rainbow glimpses.
When a pattern repeats, it gets our attention. Rainbows are reminders of hope, of promise. But they are also symbols of paradox. The reason we need the hope is that we are living in the storm that looks like destruction and judgement. There is danger in the post-flood rain, but there is also God's love.
Holding the two truths of difficulty and blessing together is our challenge this season. Two kids are facing the challenge of transition: hard schools, competition, disjointed loneliness, some disappointments. Two others are forging into junior and senior years with responsibility and hard work. Our hearts long to be in all four places. We are heading now into a week of Serge meetings where the frontiers of the restoration are before us. New team leaders head to South Sudan in two days. Ebola is a hovering threat on our continent, and our hearts grieve. But in all of this the rainbow promises that God's love is sure and true. In fact, is the foundational truth, deeper than the storms of sorrow.
So remember the rainbow today, and please pray we would too!