photo by shannon pifko

please welcome guest author julie flanagan for this post.  she’s a vibrant, amazing woman of God, who just happens to also by my cousin.  this article is a re-print she wrote for the may 2009 edition of …groundswell… the following words are hers.

Sometimes life just hasn’t seemed to go as I had hoped for or planned.  Sometimes I feel forgotten.  Sometimes life just seems so uncertain.  Sometimes I need to be reminded of God’s presence in my life because I am so good at forgetting.

I am thankful for my clients who have shared openly about their life experiences.  I have learned that we really aren’t that much different.  We all  have fears and insecurities.  We have been broken, disillusioned about life at times, and just need to feel hope.  We all need the touch of God in our lives–to be reminded of Who He is.

From the mother whose son has spent years serving time in prison, to the wife who cares for her paralyzed husband after a tragic accident, to the young woman who has been abandoned by her dad–we all need hope.

We all need to be reminded, and to know in our hearts, that God has not forgotten us.  We need to be reminded and believe He is good, and loving, and powerful, and has our best in mind.

I was speaking to a client yesterday about a loss in her life.  We talked about how much easier it is to live in past dreams than to trust God with our future.  I was encouraged as I told her of an experience from my own life, realizing how I was starting to forget again.

A handful of years after Mom died, our family was struck with yet another loss.  My Uncle Dave died of a rare form of cancer, only five weeks after his diagnosis.  Dad drove my sister and me six hours north to attend his funeral.  During the trip, none of us said much.  We had worship music, with the occasional Rascal Flatts or Keith Urban, playing in the background.  I just stared out the window most of hte ride, crying and praying.  The clouds were thick and dark.  The rain spilled out, pelting our windshield.

“We really need to pray that it clears up for the burial,” Dad commented, ending the extended pause in conversation.

“Well, I just prayed for a rainbow,” I responded.  Dad just gave me a look that said my comment didn’t surprise him.  But, to be honest, I don’t really know why I prayed for that.  However, I told God that somebody needed one.

We got to the church and, indeed, it did clear up for the burial.  Yet, the whole service seemed all to familiar to our family, and none of us were paying too much attention to the weather at that point.

Following the service, our extended family piled into cars to drive to my aunt and cousins’ house for lunch.  During the ride, Dad told some of the young kids with us that I prayed for a rainbow.  They giggled.

I was later enjoying my pizza and light conversation when one of the girls came running up to me saying there was a rainbow outside.  I jumped up and ran to see.

Sure enough, there was a cute, little rainbow on the side of the yard, above the shed.  I felt warm inside.  How special for God to answer such a silly, seemingly unimportant request of mine.  I felt loved when I went inside.  It was like I was a giddy, little girl who was given a thoughtful surprise from her daddy.

Only fifteen minutes or so passed and I was talking to my cousin about her dad’s death.  I glanced out her window and quickly grabbed her arm, pulling her outside with me.  I looked up–right above her house, with the mountains and pastures in the backdrop was the most brilliant double rainbow I had ever seen.

“It’s for you!” I exclaimed, still clutching my cousin’s arm.  “God gave you a rainbow!”

God’s Spirit told my heart “It’s for you too, Julie.  You asked for a rainbow and were satisfied with that little one.  But I had something so much bigger, more beautiful than you could ever have asked or imagined.  You can trust Me.”

That was it.  God loved me.  He listened to me.  He responded.  But He responded in the most intimate, powerful, perfect way.

I thought of Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

I knew that the rainbow was God’s way of reminding me that He knows what He is doing, even though I may be uncertain of many things.  What will tomorrow look like?  Will there even be a tomorrow?

What I can be certain of is that God is good.  I don’t have to try and convince Him or manipulate Him to be good–He just is.  God is loving and desires to bless me.  God is powerful.  He has the power to accomplish all that He wants to in my life, down to the most intimate details.  I can trust Him with my past, with my present, with my future, with my fears, with my dreams, and with my everything.

The God who created this world loves me.  In His love, and by His power, I can face tomorrow knowing that it will be beautiful.  It will be even more beautiful than I can even imagine.

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