I had spent many previous weekends working, worrying and trying to resolve seemingly irresolvable issues. Infinite loops of fear and doubt played themselves over and over again in my mind. Catastrophic results projected themselves on that large screen HDTV in my head, culminating in my complete ruination. But catastrophically worse than my own ruination, would be the ruination of my family. Once you have children, the stakes in life become infinitely higher. Your life’s gambles become their gambles. If you fail, you take them with you.
Whether I realize it or not, during these times the Holy Spirit is there with me. He speaks to me in an inaudible and yet somehow distinct way. It’s hard at times to distinguish between His words and my own self-talk. It’s also hard to hear Him because I am continually interrupting Him with that self-talk. But if I stop and listen, I can hear Him. It may be through a particular passage of scripture. Perhaps I’ve read it before. But this one particular time, something resonates within me and the scripture takes on a new and deeper meaning. Or, He may send someone to me; an inadvertent messenger. There have been times in my life where I struggled with something and someone came into my life either as an illustration through their own circumstances, or they imparted a particular piece of the wisdom puzzle that helped me to deal the issue.
At the end of that particularly difficult week I was completely exhausted. It was a Friday night and my wife and I, with our two little girls, were headed to our usual restaurant near our home. The girls and I were in the car, while we waited for my wife, Beth. I was so stressed that I simply sat there in the car and silently prayed. In that few seconds of pure and raw angst, I prayed and gave everything to Him. I prayed: Father, I have been holding onto this for too long. I am so tired of worrying about my career, my future, and that of my family. I give it all to you. When I opened my eyes, I felt that stifling weight in my spirit lift in way that is difficult to describe. But the fear was gone. And I felt myself back in the present, instead of that gnawing fear of the future unknown. I was simply sitting there in my car, with my two beautiful little girls.
Beth got in the car and we pulled out of the driveway of our home. As we drove off, I looked out the window to my left and saw something I had never seen before. It was a “double” rainbow, one rainbow on top of another but each separate and distinct. There was a front of a few dark clouds and the rainbows rose up beneath them and into them, with no apparent end. The two multicolored shafts of translucent light were incredibly beautiful, and as close to anything I have ever seen that literally looked like a passage directly into Heaven.
I pointed out the double rainbow to the girls. Neither had ever seen even a single rainbow before. And then something occurred to me that I had, like many other things, read about and quickly forgotten. Chapter 9 of the book of Genesis describes the new beginning between God and mankind after the great flood which wiped all of mankind except for Noah’s family. God caused it to rain for forty days and nights in order to destroy mankind, which had sunk to levels of depravity and evilness beyond anything imaginable. The flood was the culmination of events which began with Adam and Eve. Mankind’s actions had resulted in an incredible deterioration of its relationship with God. We started with a perfect and unfettered relationship, in which Adam and Eve simply relied on God and God took care of them. But Adam and Eve allowed the snake to plant seeds of discontent in their hearts, which ultimately caused them to lose faith in God. This loss of faith was demonstrated through their disobedience to Him.
Their descendants perpetuated and amplified this rift with God. Abel murdered Cain.The human race became evil and depraved. Eventually God had enough. He warned Noah to build an ark and then destroyed all of mankind, except Noah and his family. When it was all over, the waters receded and God blessed Noah. God provided for Noah and his family. God gave them a chance to start all over again. God and Noah entered into a new covenant, which would again reconcile God and mankind. In recognition of this new beginning of the relationship, God placed a rainbow in the sky to remind man of the covenant.
When I first read this story in Genesis, I assumed it was an allegory of some sort. It never occurred to me that it would have a real life application in my life. But that day I realized that God was speaking to me through this story. So, following a series of weeks in which, with all my emotional might, I tried to muscle my way through problem after problem, I finally surrendered it all to God. The funny thing is that I know that God wants us to give Him our problems. I know that Jesus tells us not to worry. And throughout my life, He has proven time and time again that I can trust Him. And yet, there are times when faced with problems that I simply fail to trust Him. I instinctively reach for my arsenal of intellectual weapons and begin the battle. And in doing this, I am following the pattern of all mankind, beginning with Adam and Eve, who refused to simply surrender everything to Him.
Worry is an insidious sin because the desire to defend one’s self is so basic to the human psyche. We are taught that God helps those who help themselves. The United States of America is a self-determined nation of self-determined people. We glorify people bring themselves up by their bootstraps. We do have God-given skills and tools. And He wouldn’t have given them to us unless He intended for us to use them. So He doesn’t want us to sit passively by, waiting for Him to take action. But on the other hand, we are told trust Him in all things. And worry is the opposite of trust.
In criminal law analysis, liability or guilt often rest with the defendant’s intent. Whether or not a person intended to inflict the harm they did is determinative of whether or not they are held accountable for it. And in the case of dealing with problems, to the Christian, the real question is the one of our hearts. When faced with problems or stress, are we responding out of His will, or our own? It’s when I do what I want and not what He wants, that I become like my ancestors, Adam and Eve who started the trend of disobedience. How can we know what He wants? It’s actually pretty simple. We learn His will through prayer and our interaction with the Holy Spirit, that inaudible voice we can hear, when we listen carefully. We learn His will through our study of His Word, the Holy Scripture. And within that study, we learn His will through the example of Jesus.
And this brings me back to the rainbow. Through my own stubborn refusal to submit to Him and my determination to try and solve my problems on my own, I had cornered myself into an infinite downward spiral of stress and despair. When I finally gave it all to Him, I truly ceased caring about the outcome. This is because I realized that God would take care of it. And however He took care of it, it would all work out for good. And the best part was that when I finally came to my senses and submitted to Him, He sent me an incredibly beautiful rainbow. And for the first time in their lives, my little girls got to see His reminder for all mankind of His covenant.
I must confess that there are parts of the Bible that I simply do not understand. The Genesis 9 description of the rainbow had always seemed strange to me. It reminded me of some of the mythology of ancient peoples used to describe phenomena that they couldn’t otherwise explain. But on that day, sitting there in my car with my family, I realized that God had shown me, once again, that the Bible is absolutely accurate. He had shown this obstinate prodigal son who was so determined to do things my own way, something that could only be described as a sign. Once we return to Him and entrust our lives to Him that He will take care of everything. He will take care of me. He will take care of my family. He just will.
 Genesis 4:8.
 Genesis 6.
 Genesis 6:9, 7:1-21, 8:1-22.
 Genesis 9:1.
 Genesis 9:8.
 Genesis 9:12.
 Philippians 4:6-7.
 Matthew 6:25-34.
 Proverbs 3:5-6.
 Romans 8:28.