Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Morning Meds--The Rainbow

You set a boundary they cannot cross; 
never again will they cover the earth.”

I'll show you the pictures. It was one of those breath-taking, post-storm dawns. I was out east of town, staring into big orange sunrise, got down low and shot through a stand of soybean pods, ready for harvest, a gaggle of viney, whiskery lines. It was one of those moments when I knew I had an image worth taking home, just knew it.

This one. Look closely and you'll see a hungry grasshopper.

It’s not easy for me to get back to my feet once I’m down there, so I stood up slowly, I’m sure, easing the soreness out of my back. When I turned around, the dawn was lighting the western sky, where a flood of cottonball clouds stood pinkly above a broad field of corn, the stalks already half dried, seemingly lifeless at the bottom but still green at the top. I snapped again.

Then I looked north. A thin, third of a leg of rainbow arched up into the tufty sky. I shot and shot and shot, even though, as rainbows go, this one wouldn't have won a prize at the State Faith. 

I’ve seen lots of rainbows throughout my life, but this was the most recent. As beautiful as the dawn was that morning, as interesting a pattern as the soybean vines made against the muted orange of the eastern sky, that morning, as always, the rainbow, even this little stump of one, stood supreme. 

I am likely never more quick-draw biblical than I am in the presence of a rainbow. Their stunning appearances will forever remind me of God’s promise not to destroy, but to love. Shocking in their multi-hued immensity, they not only catch the eye, they hold our vision so tightly that it’s difficult, almost painful to turn away and mind our own business. Part of their heavenly magic is the promise the psalmist remembers here in verse eight, even though there’s no rainbow. We all, I think, rejoice that there are rainbows.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand that, on a sunny day, I can create one myself with a plain old garden hose. There is, after all, a scientific explanation for the rainbow phenomenon, a physical explanation no fundamentalist Christian can deny.

The joy of verse eight is peace, really, peace rooted in Godly order. The psalmist can sing because no damned flood is going to cover the earth ever again. On that one, God has given his word—that’s what the singer knows. There will be no more floods.

God almighty is a God of order, of pattern and design. Things fit with him. From the chaos of whatever was, he spoke the word and created order, as if our cosmos was a dime store key chain, “the works of thy fingers."

But he’s also the God of surprise. And it seems to me that the moment we believe we have him figured out, he’s likely to astonish us with something that confounds or excites, or simply surprises. Like a ordinary soybean up against a burning dawn.

Like a rainbow. 

I love the assurance of this line, the joy the psalmist takes in peace, the assurance that catastrophe will not ensue.  

I love the assurance of the rainbow, but I also will never forget the surprise. Listen to this: I turned away from the dawn, and there it was, this rainbow.

Shocking. Wonderful. Blessed Assurance.

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