Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
Gen. 9:16It's a phenomenon that illuminates dark skies with bands of brilliant color. It is a symbol that has long been associated with God's covenant with the earth. It is the chromatic emblem of divine promise.
It is the rainbow.
It is an amazing play of light that is only perceptible to us because of the incredibly acute design of our eyes. Light from the sun is refracted by water droplets then bounced back to us. We can see the various shades of the spectrum arching across the sky, dancing off the spray of yard sprinkles, shining over the ocean as a cloudburst hits out at sea.
To be technical, the rainbow spectacle occurs when light hits water. The light enters the water droplet and refracts, then is reflected off the back of the water droplet, bouncing back and dispersing technicolor shades. The most vivid colors of the rainbow are visible to the human eye at 42 degree angle to what is called the antisolar spot, the area between our head and its shadow. When we cross into that 42 degree zone, we can see the rainbow.
And therein lies a little bit of mystery.
We all see a different rainbow. Even when we think we are looking at the same rainbow.
You're going to have to dust off your high school geometry, but here's the reason. The rainbow you see depends on your height in relation to that 42 degree zone. If you are taller, you have to stand back a bit from your shorter friend in order to perceive the rainbow he sees. But in your very backing up to be able to catch this bit of refracted light, you will end up seeing a different representation of the rainbow. Because of each of your positions in relation to that 42 degree zone, some colors of the rainbow will be more intense for you than for your friend. And some will be more vivid for him than for you. No two persons see the same rainbow. Even if someone is your exact height and standing directly next to you, the very few degrees they stand to your left or right will again allow them to perceive a rainbow that is different from the one you are seeing.
Just like the promises of God.
God has given each of us a portion of faith and has equipped each of us within that portion for the life He has intended for each of us. And yet, so often, we think that we should have the same experience, the same outcome, based on what we see as the promises of God.
But what if, just if, God's promises are like His rainbows; it's all about where you're standing. He is steady and constant, always at 42 degrees. It is us and how tall we are standing or how low we are bowing in supplication that allow us to see the promise He has for this time, this season, this circumstance. Where we seem to get in to trouble is when we point out to the horizon and insist that everyone see the same thing we are seeing.
But maybe others will have to walk a bit further before they enter that 42 degree zone. And maybe we will have to drop to our knees to see the specific spectrum of His light.
What an amazing Father to paint an individual rainbow for each of His kids.
And what an amazing Father to extend to each of us the same kingdom rights, privileges, promises and grace and to customize the view for each of us.
A God who customizes, who will even customize the colors of the sky, and who can customize His promises for each of us, all while staying constant, unchanging and true.
A mystery wrapped in faith arching across the skies of our souls, His very light reflected in the cleansing water of His Word.