Seeing this rainbow from my wheelchair the night before my extensive back surgery May 30 2016, I felt God’s love.
I knew God had brought me across the country to this surgeon for a reason. I also knew that God would be with me no matter what. And like Noah centuries before me, I experienced God’s rainbow promise of love that he would never desert me. Unlike Noah, I experienced this rainbow in the middle of my storm.
God’s rainbow promise of love for our daughter.
As a sign of God’s enduring love, we chose the rainbow as the symbol for our third daughter. Following the advice of Trent and Smalley’s The Blessing, we sought to bless her with a positive image. She grew up knowing that after the storm comes the rainbow. And God’s love is with us throughout both.
As a small child, she loved the bright colors of the rainbow and loved the Bible story of the rainbow’s origin. Of course, she also loved the certainty of God’s enduring love.
Instead of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, she envisioned a heart. God’s heart of love was always the meaning of the rainbow. So we painted her bedroom walls with rainbows and hearts.
God’s rainbow promise of love challenges us to live actively aware of that constant love.
In response to God’s abundant care of me through much physical pain and uncertainty, I needed to share God’s love. I needed to share my experience of his love and my certainty of his love as expressed in the Bible. Romans 8: 38-39 says, ” 38 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.” (NIV)
In the same way, our daughter grew up knowing the love of God as a constant in her life. She also knew that God had called her to be a witness to the constancy of his love.
What blesses us as parents now is the ways she has incorporated sharing God’s love for others into her life. As Noah trusted that God was with him through the long, long storm, she has learned to trust. She knows that God that is always with her through the long storms in her life. As he is with all of us through the long storms in our lives.
Unbelievers who enter our daughter’s home have commented to her on the peace they feel there. She knows the reason. And she is able to share it with them. She is a good example of what Rosaria Butterfield calls “radical hospitality.”
May we all experience God’s rainbow promise of eternal love. And may we share it confidently with others.
One day my dad used a silly conversation to teach me about God’s love for me. I had often wondered to my dad how much sense it made to pray to God about everything. What if God didn’t want to do what I asked? If my prayer wasn’t something he thought was a good idea, he wouldn’t do it, right? Would I make him mad by asking?
As an example, Dad asked me what I thought he would say if I begged him for pet chickens. I thought that was silly and told him so.
He suggested that I think of myself as a small child living in a big-city apartment building with my family. Suppose I desperately wanted pet chickens and begged for that. Would he get mad at me for asking him for them?
“No,” said my dad. “I might laugh at the idea, but I wouldn’t get angry. I would explain to you all the reasons it’s an impossible idea. I might have to tell you no many times, but it wouldn’t make me mad.
“He doesn’t want you to be disappointed. He doesn’t want to have to tell you no. But he also knows that some ideas just don’t make sense. Other things you want and pray for could be bad for you if you got them.
“God’s love means he will always answer your prayers in the best way for you—even though it won’t always feel like it. But he always, always, always wants you to come to him with your prayers of whatever you are longing for.
“Just like I love having you come talk to me in my study when you get home from school, God loves having us talk to him about whatever we are thinking.”
As a child, my prayer requests were fairly simple. As I got older, of course, that changed. Then my dad helped me to understand that God also wanted me to come to him and vent when I was angry. Even when God was the person I was mad at.
When I felt abandoned by God because he let me go through traumatic events he could have spared me, God wanted me to vent at him about it. He wanted me to beat my fists onto his chest and ask him why he had let me or those I loved suffer in ways he could have prevented.
My dad didn’t have answers for me when my fiancé left me on my wedding day. But he had taught me clearly that God loved me and wanted to hear from me in my pain.
I didn’t learn the answers as to why God let me experience that traumatic period until years later, but I had learned the most important lesson about it from my dad years before.
My mom realized her five-year-old was missing unconditional love the day she asked her, “Mommy, will you still love me if I go to prison?
Energetic, enthusiastic, full-volume—my little sister had a knack for getting herself into trouble. Sometimes she may have deserved it. But generally she simply had more energy or volume than adults wanted her to have. Her misdemeanors left her with the feeling of missing unconditional love.
Vases may have gotten in the way of her energetic movements. Adults may have stopped napping at the sound of her arrival in the house. Things may have fallen over during her exciting games. Adults may have said their ears were hurting from her excited yelling about whatever she was doing.
But at first my mom failed to see that my sister was assuming her frequent punishments and reproofs proved she was a bad person.
Probably many of us do that as parents. I know I did—and only realized it much later.
Fortunately, my mom’s wake-up call allowed her to change her mode of parenting my sister.
—”Mommy, will you still love me if I have to go to prison?”
—“What do you mean? You’re not going to prison.”
—”But what if I do? Will you still love me then?”
—”No, Honey, you will never go to prison.”
—”But what if I do?”
—“You won’t ever go to prison, but I will still love you if you do.”
—“Honey, I will never stop loving you. If you ever go to prison, I will visit you all the time. I promise.”
That day my sister felt better, feeling unconditionally loved, while my mom felt terrible. My mom realized she needed to completely change the way she responded to my sister when upset. In those moments, she needed to talk about the problems of my sister’s behavior in ways that focused on the behavior rather than on her person.
Mom began to talk about how Jesus loves people in prison and loves all of us, regardless of our behavior.
She also noticed two poison words she had been using a lot with my sister: “always” and “never.”
I wish I could have learned that lesson then for all my future relationships. Unfortunately, I needed to learn the same thing the hard way. Though I never had children assume they would go to prison, I’m sure I sometimes made mine feel that they were worthless.
What Mom needed to focus on with my sister—and I needed to with my daughters—is how much God loves us. No matter what.
Anyone who knows my sister now would have a hard time believing this story. Yet if my mom had allowed my sister to grow up feeling worthless, I’m sure she would never have become the powerful Christian she is today.
Even when we mess up as parents, God forgives us and can bring our children to forgive us too.