CLOUDBURSTS AND THUNDERSTORMS pelted my windshield. The little I could see was wavy and indistinct. I was thankful but exhausted when the rain eventually eased up. I still had a lot of driving to reach my Maryland home after this camping weekend in Virginia.
Then the sun came out, shining brilliantly and creating an iridescent rainbow right beside me. I had never seen a rainbow so close! It seemed to touch the earth just a couple of hills ahead of me.
Excited and hopeful, I pulled off the road as close as possible to this irresistibly beautiful arc, locked my car, and went for a walk. The rolling Virginia hills were covered in tall brown grass with pine forests in the background. Thankful for my hiking boots, I trudged along a soggy gully on a quest to get closer to the rainbow’s “ground zero.” It looked as though the colorful bow had to be touching down just over the next hill.
Worried about losing my chance to see it closer, I started running. The sun threatened to go behind a cloud, and I did not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
As I ran, my thoughts kept asking, What if? Then I shook myself back to reality. It’s a fairy tale; don’t even think about it. But it had been so ingrained in my mind from childhood that I could not stop thinking about it. In my heart and mind I knew there was no way it would be there, but I still found myself unable to stop thinking how it would pay for the rest of my college education.
Rushing up over the next hill, I saw the rainbow’s end touching the ground. As I walked over to the spot and looked down, my heart sank with disappointment. I did not find that pot of gold left for me by a leprechaun. I yelled, “They lied to us! There’s no pot of gold.”
Embarrassed at how disappointed I felt, I was glad I was alone so no one was witness to it. Not wanting this temporary moment of insanity to ruin a beautiful, natural, once-in-a-lifetime event, I stood on “the spot” watching the colorful bow arch away from me. Lifting up my arms, I let out a primal scream. “Thank You, God, for this moment. This is amazing.” I stood there for a while letting my eyes follow the rainbow to a distant hill, taking it all in. The rainbow was vivid in color, changing my shoes and the brown grass around it to purple, blue, green, and orange.
After a few minutes I walked back to my car, sorry I was unable to take a picture. It was 1977, and mobile phones hadn’t been invented yet and I didn’t have a bulky film-loaded camera in my back pocket. So I have no proof, only good memories.
Reflecting on this moment later in life, I thought, Certainly there must be a meta group for “rainbow standers.” Going to the internet, I looked it up and found nothing. After further searching, I discovered that this is truly a very rare event. In fact, one article stated that rainbows never touch the ground. So that’s why the leprechauns hide their gold there, because they know it will never be found. (There I go again, thinking about that make-believe pot of gold. Back to reality.)
I couldn’t prove them wrong; I didn’t have a photo of my rainbow event. I did find a few photos of a rainbow touching down, very distant and faint, none as close as my encounter. Apparently, the conditions have to be perfect. It takes a 45-degree angle of the sun behind you, making it possible only a few times a day with the humidity above 75 percent and the raindrops being more than .01 millimeters. Fortunately, I had all those things going for me at that moment.
But remembering how disappointed and betrayed I felt when there was no pot of gold for me, I wondered why we tell children untruths. We say it’s just for fun, but they’ll find out the truth later and discover that we lied to them. Is reality so bad that we have to play make-believe to somehow get through it, not thinking of future consequences? I never told my kids about leprechauns or even Santa Claus, and it didn’t hurt them a bit.
As a retired pastor’s wife, I remember convincing a Bible study couple that the Sabbath was Saturday and Catholicism wasn’t the remnant church. They were shocked and devastated. The husband was so angry with their priest that he wanted to go over to the parish and strangle him.
“No, no,” I said, “you can’t feel that way. Maybe he is as deceived as you were.” What they had been told all their lives was not true. Such deceit leaves people feeling that they must question everything and trust nobody.
After an evangelistic meeting on the state of the dead, I watched while a young woman fell to the pavement in the parking lot crying.
“Where is my mother?” she screamed. “Where is my mother?” This poor woman had always “known” that her mother was in heaven watching over her. She had a strong physical and emotional response to the realization that this was not true. What had been so comforting to her in the past was ripped out from under her feet, and she went into mild hysteria.
When giving Bible studies, we need to be thoughtful of the emotions we evoke when we dispel long-standing myths. What we have believed all our lives as Seventh-day Adventists is good news to us, but to someone who, for a lifetime, has believed the opposite, it can be shocking and disorienting. Hearts must be handled delicately and with care. We must give the Bible student time to think it over, time to read the Bible texts for themselves, time to pray about it.
In John 16:12, 13 Jesus states, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (NKJV).
We must entreat the Lord earnestly for the truth seekers who need our support and our prayers. We may ask that God will strengthen their hearts for the powerful and faithful teachings that are so foreign to their understanding. God’s rainbow of truth is beautiful when seen in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. We must always remember, however, that bright light is painful to eyes that have always been in the shadows. God can teach us how to turn the light up gently and support those who are seeing it for the first time.