Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wholeness: The Testimony of a Rainbow

I just sat down to begin writing today's post, and you'll never guess what I spotted. Outside my home there appeared a humongous, gorgeous rainbow. I've never seen a rainbow so large, so close, so distinct in its colors and design. I wonder if it's a once in a lifetime gift from God.

The interesting thing about this rainbow: it appeared in the middle of a thunderstorm. The thunder still roared, lightning still pierced through the sky, dark clouds still loomed in the atmosphere.

And yet there it was in the middle of all that turmoil: a magnificent rainbow. (Trust me, our pictures don't do it justice.)

I'm not a superstitious person, and I don't usually act according to every whim and circumstance, but I think God is speaking to me right now. I believe He's telling me that He's interrupting the regularly scheduled program. The things I planned to say here today must wait. The thoughts I intended to present are going on a shelf. He is completely rewriting my script. So you'll have to come back on Saturday to read what I originally planned to share today. I sure hope you do.

But today I think God wants me to speak on the topic of HOPE. That's what that rainbow spoke to me. What is hope? I searched dictionary.com, and two of their definitions rise to the top. Let's unpackage both.

1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

As believers in Christ, we can have assurance that no matter what takes place in our lives, it can turn out for the best. Now is this just some pie in the sky kind of belief, or is there some validity to what I'm saying? Well, the Word clearly tells us, and many of you know this scripture by heart and recite it often:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
So everything works for our good, right? Even when we experience disease, depression, financial distress, illness and even death?

Now, I don't want to be irreverent towards the Word of God or shatter your faith in this particular scripture, but my husband Anthony taught me something years ago that totally transformed my understanding of Romans 8:28. So hold on. I'll bring it home in a minute. Just hang in there with me.

Now visualize your darkest moment, your most difficult period in your life, your greatest disappointment. Now think of the "good" that came out of that experience or period of time. Some of you will have very concrete answers. Through an illness God brought a special person into your life. After a financial crisis, you learned how to manage your money in a way that brought you prosperity and allowed you to give to others.

Others of you are still scratching your head right now. You can't think of much good that's come out of the death of your loved one or your miscarriage or from September 11, 2001.

So does Romans 8:28 only work for certain people? Are you somehow exempt from its power? Am I?

To receive the full promise of Romans 8:28, we've got to dig a little deeper. We've got to go to the next verse.
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." Romans 8:29
Let's put our focus on the highlighted part of this verse. God has predestined His children to be conformed to the image of His Son -- Jesus Christ. So let's put the two verses together. God makes all things in our lives work together for our good. And what is the good He's working together? The good is the process of you and I conforming to the image of Christ.

Ahhh... So our trials and difficulties work together for our good, because God uses them to conform us to the image of Christ. So God uses the horrible, downright crappy things in my life to make me more like Him. That's the good that He wants to do in every single experience of my life. Amen! Doesn't that truth make you want to shout?

So, on to the next definition...

2. to believe, desire or trust

Years ago, while going through a dark time in my life, I did a Beth Moore Bible study entitled Believing God. This was the period of time when my emotions were reeling through the whirlwind of two miscarriages and an adoption loss within the matter of a year and a half. As far as I was concerned, I had pretty much shut down on God. I knew I was still a Christian, but I figured if I went under the radar, maybe He'd stop picking on me. It seemed like the people that suffered the head-on collisions of life were the people really fired up for God and His work. In my perspective, the people cruising through life with barely a dent or scratch were the ones that went to church every Sunday, but didn't cause much of a stir for God or the Enemy.

I decided I was going to become the latter.

And then Miss Beth met me right where I was. There were days that I wept silently on my friend's couch as Beth implored us to not only believe in God, but to believe God. Trust Him. Have total faith in Him. Place our HOPE in Him.

And I implore you today. Sometimes the thunder will roar, the lightning will pierce and the dark clouds will loom. Sometimes the storms of life will come in fiercely but quickly. Other times they will last for weeks, months, even years. But know this. God loves you. He is good -- always. He is your HOPE.

Like the breathtaking rainbow that appeared in my small part of the world today, HOPE is always there -- even in the midst of a horrible storm. I will live and die with my faith in that truth. I hope you will too.

Made Whole in Him,