A few weeks ago I took this picture standing on my front step at home. My camera did not capture the startling beauty of two complete double rainbows, each color glowing and vibrant. This awesome gift from God lasted more than fifteen minutes. The experience touched my heart. I am truly grateful. This morning, as I focused on Psalm 118, the following poem/psalm poured forth from my pen. I feel called to share it with you.
God’s Spectacular Rainbow
God’s rainbow arch
holds me in its cradle.
God is with me.
Nothing I do is wasted.
God uses me.
God uses all things, beings actions,
to bring goodness.
God holds the light and the darkness.
God blends them together
God’s loving power
doesn’t depend on me
my faith, my understanding, my feelings.
This is my hope.
I will trust in God.
“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Lately, I have been particularly conscious of the preciousness of friendship. Over the past seven years, I have retired and moved to Peterborough. Letting go of the past and starting new relationships requires courage, patience and intention. For over forty years, my friend, Nancy, has been my anchor through this kind of upheaval. Although she lives far away, we have grown our friendship through letters, emails, phone calls and visits.
Because we have lived separated by great distance over the years, Nancy and I have both been intentional about maintaining and growing our friendship through all these different methods. We share our joy and reach out when troubles come. There is no greater gift than the peace and confidence that comes when we know we are loved just as we are, warts and all. With Nancy my mistakes, problems, grief, fun and celebrations are all accepted without judgment.
The writer of the Bible’s Psalm 139 claims God as his life-long friend. He tells us that God has loved us from our very beginning. There is nowhere we can go without God’s presence with us, God’s love surrounding us. My relationship with Nancy has taught me the reality of this Psalm. Within our friendship, I receive a taste of God’s eternal love.
Today I suggest that you give thanks for your friends. Tell them they are precious to you. Tell them of the goodness they bring to your life. In the same way, give thanks to God, who will never abandon you or throw you away. Rest in confidence as you walk your journey supported by your ever-loving God.
Jesus said, “If you, then…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”(Matthew 7:11 NIV)
Every year I struggle anew with our Christian interpretation of the Biblical story of Easter. Through research and biblical study of the “Old Testament”, the Hebrew Bible, I have learned that people in Jesus’ time believed that pleasing God required the sacrifice of animals. Jesus focused his teaching on a loving God. Therefore, his followers interpreted Jesus’ crucifixion as the one supreme sacrifice, the one perfect sacrifice. Never again would sacrifice be required to appease God.
I cannot understand our loving God as requiring the crucifixion of Jesus in order to love us. In James Taylor’s book, “Last Chance”, he speaks of the last week of Jesus’ life as Jesus’ intentional act of love for humanity. Our Christian story tells us that during his last meal Jesus broke bread and washed the feet of his friends, even Judas, the one who would betray him. Even as he writhed on the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness to a thief and prayed for forgiveness for his torturers.
For me, God in Jesus, showed us that the worst we could do, torture and kill God as a human being, would not destroy God’s love for us. For me, today is “Good Friday” because God loved all of creation, every living thing, every human being, so much that God allowed us to do our absolute worst and still God loves us. Yes, God weeps. Yes, God writhes with pain when we sin, when we destroy the earth, when we destroy one another but God’s love is not defeated. Even before we admit our atrocities, even before we say we’re sorry, God has already died for us.
I believe that God can bring goodness out of anything. Every time as humans we destroy another human being, whether physically, emotionally or socially, we commit the atrocity of the crucifixion of Jesus. Still God works to bring new life for us.
This morning’s reading in my Lenten Study book “Rising with the Morning Star”, reminded me of a scientific fact. Six billion years ago, the ocean began with volcanic explosions. From the violence and destruction of volcanic eruptions, God created the ocean, earth’s fundamental source of life. Of course, today is Good Friday, God’s Friday, the source of new life.
While travelling in Vermont last month, I bought a pair of socks made of merino wool, labelled “Darn Tough.” These socks come with a life-time guarantee. If they wear out, shrink, develop holes, even if the dog chews them, I can return or mail them to the store and get a new pair. Now the price was $20.00 US, but my friends assured me that they had been wearing this brand of socks for a number of years. They had received replacements with no difficulty when the socks showed signs of wear and tear. As I handed over my $20.00, I imagined my feet at the age of 100, still clad in my “Darn Tough” socks.
God also offers us a life time guarantee. God’s love is ours forever, in life, in death, in life beyond death. That’s God’s promise. Regardless of the number of holes we develop. No matter how many times we mess up. God loves us even when we’re feeling tired, worn, beaten up. God’s life-time guarantee comes free, absolutely free. Starting with our conception in the womb, God loves us. And we don’t have to return our lives to the store to get them replaced either. God’s love is with us always through thick and thin, while the storms of life rage, when we’re happy and celebrating, when we’re filled with sorrow or remorse. And we don’t have to pay for it.
Still many of us won’t accept the gift of God’s love. Even when we say that Jesus paid the price already, still some of us aren’t satisfied. We haven’t paid, so the gift doesn’t exist or has no value. I sometimes think it’s not a lack of belief in God, rather it’s just that we don’t want to owe anyone, not even God.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
I finished the first draft of my novel Fireweed five years ago. Since then, I have read and rewritten parts of it many times. I have paid for two professional edits as well. Two weeks ago, I sat up until 4:00 a.m. giving Fireweed its last read through. I still found simple mistakes and spots to improve. It wasn’t perfect, I’m sure, but the time had come to abandon the task and send Fireweed to the publisher.
Our lives are like that manuscript. We do our best and we make mistakes. We ask forgiveness. We learn a better way. We live some more and find that transformation is not complete. We’re not yet perfect. I’m sure on the day I die, I will look at my life and find places that need to be rewritten. I will still need forgiveness.
Our Christian faith encourages me never to abandon my efforts at improvement. Even though I cannot attain perfection on my own, God’s love will bring perfection into my life. God came in Jesus to show us God’s unconditional love. From the agony of the cross, Jesus continued to love and forgive, continued to offer yet another opportunity for transformation.
Once printed, Fireweed’s remaining errors will be frozen in time for all to see. The blessing of our Christian faith is that God never abandons us. Yes, death will come to all of us, but the victory of resurrection means God’s love transforms us, washes us clean, prepares us with perfection for the life to come. I’m grateful for that assurance. It gives me courage to try again tomorrow, never to stop rewriting my life.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
On January 30th I slipped on a pool of water in my kitchen. Although no bones were broken, I was sidelined for more than a month with soft tissue injury in my back. I’m still not 100% healed. God did not cause me to fall, but has certainly used the accident to teach me a great deal.
Good health is vital. Without it my life is severely limited. I must care for my body with plenty of rest, good food and exercise.
I read Brian McLaren’s latest book in which he gives a sound theological basis for my belief that learning about other faiths can strengthen my Christianity.
I had hours to spend working on my next book and learned that I can make it a priority in my life.
I don’t like being limited. Impatience and frustration often overwhelm me Yet, as I lay confined to my zero gravity lawn chair, I didn’t waste my time. God enabled me to use it creatively. It seems to me that’s the way God would like us to look at all the difficult, even tragic disruptions in our lives.
Some say these difficult things are God’s punishments for our wrongdoing. I don’t believe that God causes them at all. I do believe that when these things happen, God is right there with us, holding us, and helping us, bringing healing and offering us learning. Our job is to accept God’s healing and support. God offers us creative learning from the experience so that we can do more than just survive. We can begin to live a new life. I’m sure that with God’s help I’ll have a long list of learnings before my body is totally healed and I’m out dancing comfortably again. I can trust in God and I am grateful.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not un your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NIV)