Sunsets and Rainbows
The times had been difficult. We had spent basically a year trying to figure out whether we were doing something wrong, or God had decided to test us on something that we continued to fail. It just seemed crazy that for so long God blessed our efforts and then come about October 2001 things just began to dry up. Well through hard headedness or stubbornness or maybe it was just persistence we tried to stick it out, but finally we both began to search the papers for other jobs. Frustrated, disappointed, and somewhat confused, I began to become a little cynical. For several weeks work just trickled in and we worked twice as hard as ever and got paid half of what we were used to making. The resumes that I had sent out were yielding no results.
It was Friday and we were building a deck for half of what we should have been making. It was for a local builder who tells you how much he’ll pay, like it or lump it. The forecast had been for rain all day, but just overcast skies were the result of the tropical storm hitting the coast of Louisiana. Every couple of hours it would lightly sprinkle and twice it threatened to really rain. Once it actually chased us indoors and I thought that was it but about five minutes later it was gone leaving it muggy and damp, just wet enough to cause the red dirt to cake on your shoes. I felt like if it was going to rain I wished it would just let go and get it over with.
The time ticked away and we were getting close to being done. It was about 6:40 pm. much later than it should have been on a Friday after working that hard all week. It seemed as though we had about thirty minutes left, just a few little unfinished things to do. I got a second wind and began to really work hard to get it over with. Finally down to the last task, I began to haul my equipment down to the underside of the deck. I still had to nail the bottom ends of the pickets from a ladder underneath. That’s when it began to sprinkle. As I moved the tools down the rain seemed to pick up. By the time I had everything ready to do the job it was really raining. I looked out of the door at the sky and it appeared as though it was setting in. They had been saying it was going to get here all day, and it was supposed to rain all night, so why shouldn’t this be it? I had ten minutes of work left and then to pick up the tools, and the impending storm had finally unleashed its fury. It figured Well, a little water never hurt anyone, I was going to finish. I went out in the rain. Clamoring around with the ladder and pulling the nail gun around was extremely frustrating and the sarcasm began to rise. I just laughed. I laughed at me and then at God. I just shook my head in disbelief as I tried to look up through the pouring rain and nail the pickets over my head. I was running out of nails. So I was nailing one nail in each and figured I’d come back if the nails lasted. That way it took longer! So I could enjoy the joke for an extended time! That is what I thought, that God had played a marvelous joke on me, that He had held the rain off all day until I was twenty minutes from leaving the job and then He had allowed it to pour. I even said to dad when he asked what I was laughing about, that God had a great sense of humor. I told him I could just see God up there snickering about it. Of course, dad didn’t see the humor in it the way I did, he said, “Yeah, He’s great, He held it off all day for us when the weatherman was saying it was going to rain for sure!” No, that was not the way I saw it, I retorted, “Well, what was wrong with twenty more minutes?” No, my view was that He was sitting up there just laughing, saying to the angels, “Watch this!” and they were just having a little party watching me squinting through the down pour, slipping on the ladder rungs, literally sucking water up my nose trying to breath with my face turned right into the water. The rain poured over the roof edge and onto my head like a fountain and I could only laugh a sarcastic laugh.
I reached the end of my task and began to pick up the tools. I slopped through the mud pulling extension chords and hoses, getting muddier and wetter all the while. The mud caked up to my ankles and my clothes were soaked through and getting filthy. To me, it only made the situation funnier in a twisted sort of way, and I became more cynical with every step. I was looking forward to just going over to the corner of the house where the rain flooded from the roof and just standing there to get the mud off of me.
I had reached for the last length of hose to get up and it happened. The rain stopped. That’s right, it stopped. The clouds were still there, dark and ominous, the storm had not gone away, it just seemed that the rain had been shut off. Right before I could actually get all the mud off of me. Ohh that was really funny. I became almost loud and boisterous about it. “That’s great God! That is hilarious! Man, you really got me on this one!” Dad was speechless.
There was enough water trickling from the roof to wash off my hands, then I got in my truck and left. I could see the disappointment on my dad's face as I drove away. He knew I simply didn't get it. He knew something I didn't. He knew that was not the way God work and he looked very sad to see me the way I was.
On the way home, I began to whine about it. “God, I don’t get it. I hope you’re not upset with me and my sarcasm, but I don’t know what you’re thinking! We are working as hard as we can, I’ve never been as close to you as I am now, I am studying to go into the ministry doing all I can that I think you have asked me to do. What’s going on? Why have you seemed to go on vacation? Is it that you want me to go to the mission field? Do you want me to quit everything and try to start a church? Just give me some direction…I’ll do anything, and I mean it, anything! Just show me, do something!” This went on for ten minutes or so, through pumping gas and driving most of the way home. Tired of the silence, I turned on some music.
Salvador, a south Texas band with a Spanish flare sang about the God who dreamt of the Ocean hearing my prayers and knowing my name. I love the song but I could not identify. The next song passed and as I turned left onto the road that I lived, on a song started about “the sun’s gonna rise tomorrow, the good and the bad both feel the rain.” It sank in slightly, then I looked left which was west at that point.
The sun had just sunk beneath the horizon and the storm clouds had dissipated just enough to allow for the light to filter up and through them. The sky was illumined with every shade of red, pink, orange, and purple imaginable. The clouds were outlined in colors with unmatched beauty. The music seemed to fade out of my hearing and He whispered, “I still make sunsets. I still set the sun on one day and rise it on another. Your day will end and I will rise my sun on you again. You ask, “where am I?” I am right here like always.”
The driveway was on the top of the crest on the right. I pulled off. Astounded, I didn’t know whether to just sit there and sob or get out and watch the sunset so I did both. My truck at this point was facing east so I got out and went around the back to the opposite side of the vehicle so that I could just lean on it and see. As I rounded the back though, I happened to look up and there was an incredible rainbow, horizon to horizon in the east. I heard Him again, “You now stand between my promise and my creation, I promise to create a new day for you, you will not be stuck here, I will not leave you, Look at what I have done for you.”
My heart was ripped. I felt like a spoiled rotten child complaining on Christmas morning that I had not gotten enough while I literally tripped over toys at my feet. I was ashamed and uplifted at the same time. He set me free from my own jail of sarcasm and pessimism and all I could do was stand there looking east and then west and then east again, knowing that the sun would rise tomorrow, the good and the bad both feel the rain, Faith, Hope and Love outlive our sorrow……but Ohh what He does with Sunsets and Rainbows!