Last year about this time we were leading our seventh trip to Israel, our first in December. We were all excited to sense the joys of His birth in the month that most Christians celebrate it. Since every previous trip had been memorable and totally unique, we anticipated great things. Little did we know there'd be 20 inches of snow in Judea that week. We made a snow man at the Angel Hotel in Bethlehem. Fughedaboutit!
Which means it was cold there too. Really cold. When we stopped at the southern most Jordan River baptismal site, the water temperature took our breath away. On our way into the alcove for our worship time, our sweet friend Alice Caldwell slipped on the Jerusalem stone walkway and broke her collarbone. On our first day we were learning that this trip would be more unique than the others because it was going to be more weird that any time before. Still, a group of us went into the mighty, cold Jordan River to be symbolically baptized in a site approximating the place of our Lord's baptism. Register this scene: rain, sleet, snow, and the coldest water you can imagine.
Then, as a gift from above, as we were driving across the Jordan Valley, minutes after our cold baptism, this double rainbow appeared, the one pictured above. It was totally unexpected, another anomaly in what was already something of a bizarre trip. In two days we had seen summer heat at Ben Gurion Airport, rain and cold traveling up to Bethlehem, a blizzard, freezing water, a slippery deck, and now a double rainbow.
The trip was awesome in every respect. We visited sites and locales we'd never seen in our previous seven trips, enjoyed incredible times of sharing and worship with our travel partners, and experienced the singular joys of walking where Jesus walked. Looking in the rear view mirror, however, I've reflected on the double rainbow. Was there a message in it? Of course, the answer for me is affirmative. So, what was is about, at that strategic time and place. Here it is. Drum roll please. It was to remind us of His promises.
Let me confess that I'm somtimes a promise slacker! My OCD self always has plan B or C, an escape hatch of some sort, or more than anything else, a way to justify living by contingencies just in case His promises don't work out. I mean, there's always the chance I might have misunderstood Him, or figured it wrong. So, Mr. Promise Slacker occasionally needs a reminder that His promises are sufficient and I don't need a work around if His promise doesn't happen, like now. I think the rainbow was a reminder.
Yesterday I noticed something in Scripture that I hadn't picked up before. In Luke 1 Gabriel spoke to Mary about the birth of Jesus. David Sons, Teaching Pastor at the Church at Cane Bay reminded us in a grat message that the angel made ten promises to Mary. The text is most remembered for one great phrase---"For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). OK, Mr. Promise Slacker, notice the word "nothing".
Here's the deal. Gabriel also told Mary that Elizabeth would give birth to a child, John the Baptist. So, Mary went to visit. Now, get this. Based on God's promise, the entire section of Scripture closes with, "And Mary remained with her about threee months and returned to her home"
(Luke 1:56). Young Mary trusted God's promise to the point she stayed with Elizabeth.
It was just a rainbow. No, a double rainbow. But, on the heels of a winter nightmare, poor Alice's collarbone, uncertain travel plans, and a bunch of cold people, it was a reminder we needed. His promises are real, everyone one of them. It's because "...for He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23).