My favorite routes for long bike rides are on the country roads jutting north and east from where I live. Though I must contend with the occasional dog chasing me down the road and irrigation spray going over the road, the rides are mostly peaceful with little traffic.
Bike rides give me space from activity and the world, and I purposefully do not listen to music or podcasts when riding for this reason. I want my thoughts to flow freely. More specifically, I want them directed by the Holy Spirit without distraction.
Not long into a recent ride, a particular person came to mind. My thoughts revolved around significant concern for his future. I expressed substantial fear and a fair amount of trepidation too.
When I finished my prayers for this person, I looked up from the road in front of me and at an irrigation system in the field beside me. The rainbow in the spray focused my thoughts immediately on God’s promises. It reminded me that He alone is faithful and to trust His work in that person.
I thanked God for assuaging my disquietude. He took my focused uneasiness and replaced it with his unexplainable peace.
Later in the ride after my mind had moved on to another topic, I passed another irrigation system. This time, a rainbow moved along the spray as I rode by.
As I watched the rainbow move, I realized the Holy Spirit had more to say me about God’s faithfulness and his mercy. That more struck me in a powerful but simple way.
A rainbow’s natural habitat is usually in the sky. Twice on that ride, though, it lived in a man-made device. This location change provided a much-needed perspective change for me.
The rainbows in those irrigation systems helped me understand that sometimes, quite often actually, God’s faithfulness and mercy show through people. More specifically, He wants these qualities to show more through me.
I cannot show them in perfection as they appear when looking directly at God himself. However, His faithfulness and mercy can show to others in my attitudes, actions and words. As I lean on God’s perfect faithfulness and his unending mercy, I am more faithful. I also show mercy more than I could without Him.
In fact, without leaning on those qualities in him, I am incapable of showing faithfulness and being merciful most of the time. Instead, I’m ready to give up when someone fails, and I want to disconnect when they refuse to change like I think they should.
The rainbows on my bike ride reminded me about the faithfulness and mercy of God and how receiving them should impact my interactions with others. But the Holy Spirit had more for me. I needed to grasp yet another point.
Remember the person I began the ride praying for? God wanted me to remember that he was directly showing that person faithfulness and mercy too.
Even though I often feel hopelessness for that person, God never stops pursuing him. Even when I want to give up and walk away, to not forgive again, God rushes in. He shows His presence and gently enlarges that person’s capacity until he finally lets God in even more.
I saw this happen recently, yet I failed to focus on the activity of God in that person’s life. I kept focusing on that person’s past mistakes instead of God’s current work in him.
I knew God had moved in this person’s life, and I still let concern, fear and trepidation flood my thoughts. I knew God had gotten to him in some compelling ways. Yet, I still allowed past mistakes to infect future potential. Through the irrigation rainbows, God reminded me of the work He was doing. He clearly showed His promise of faithfulness and mercy at work in that person.
Regardless of what our culture has done with the rainbow, Scripture stands clear on what it means. It assures us of why God allows its colors to display His majesty. It remains a powerful reminder of who He is.
“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 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.’ So God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.’” (Genesis 9:12-17)
God doesn’t need reminding. He gives rainbows to remind us, to again emphasize His faithfulness and mercy despite the activity of mankind.
God keeps his promises. He is merciful and faithful. What he says he will or won’t do, you can be assured of without a doubt. We cannot say that about anyone else. So when I struggle with human failure, my own or others, I focus again on these reminders of God’s faithfulness and mercy.