Palm Tree Ponderings

I keep thinking about the palm tree in our front yard—the one we tried to uproot earlier this year. With only a couple of green, half-inch patches peeking out of its branches, I took it for dead.

A few weeks later, with JJ’s approval and only a hand shovel at my disposal, I began to dig away at that tree with great fervor and optimism. A half hour later, however, my enthusiasm had diminished. Sweat was dripping off my face as I accepted defeat against the unmoving palm tree. It didn’t get much better when JJ and I bought a normal-sized shovel and he had his turn tearing it up, either.

As the sun began to set that evening, our yard was littered with dirt and severed roots, but the center root remained intact, firmly anchoring the storm-weathered tree to solid ground.

 We considered our options and finally decided we’d leave the tree alone for a few more weeks. Perhaps there was still life to be found in the tiny plant considering the great strength it had exhibited that day. I’d give it some extra care in the weeks to follow, and if we didn’t see any growth at that time, we’d figure out how to be rid of it once and for all.

Surprisingly, the tree had grown an inch alone by the very next morning, and green was lining the bottom of its branches as they spread out and continued to grow. Today, that palm tree is the greenest plant in our front yard—still tiny, but bursting with life and growing stronger and bigger each day.

I think of this palm tree often, because our lives as a family seem to parallel its story. We’ve experienced our own personal storms; we’ve faced the elements of desert living. And the harshness of the climate these past few years has made it difficult to recognize much growth. Sometimes it has felt like we have not been fully living at all. But then I’m reminded that growth isn’t simply about branching out or living in an eternal season of spring. Perhaps growth involves severing roots that have hindered growth, at times, and anchoring ourselves more firmly to the Root that causes us to truly live. Sometimes growth requires that we go through seasons of pruning in order that we may bear more fruit in time.

When I think of our life as a family and the seeming barrenness of these past couple of years, I want to keep these perspectives in mind. Most times, it feels like our attempts to branch out have brought us back to bare roots. But then I’m reminded of John’s words about the Messiah.

He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30

Perhaps all of this digging up and pruning and seemingly becoming less is part of me decreasing so that Jesus may increase in my life. If that is the case, then let it be so. And may God help me to willingly accept that rather than struggling through it as I often do. Ultimately, this season of pruning won’t last forever, so may God help me to graciously accept it with anticipation for the harvest that He is preparing as a result of all the digging up and pruning.

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

John 15:1-2

May Love Be Our Response

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

I’ve been weeping a lot as of late—for tragic events that have happened recently and for the ones that happened twenty years ago during the 9/11 attacks. One story that has especially left me bawling this weekend has been a transcript circulating social media between Todd Beamer of flight 93 and Lisa Jefferson, a telephone supervisor with GTE (found here: https://texags.com/forums/16/topics/3225742).

I am unable to confirm the veracity of this transcript. Nonetheless, it beautifully captures the essence of the last moments of flight 93 and the courage that a group of people displayed by their determination to unravel the plans of the terrorists. The transcript ends with Todd Beamer’s famous last words of that call: “Let’s roll!”

The older I get, the more his actions and those of the other brave people among that flight move me. The truth is, as Americans, we are indebted to this small group of people in many ways.

Had they not risen up against these jihadists, it is most probable that many of our country’s leaders would have perished in the horrid events of that day. Our country would have been more vulnerable and less secure than it already was in the days that followed. This, in turn, would have left our country vulnerable to further attack in the days to come. Who knows what might have happened to our nation? Who knows if perhaps other terrorist attacks were deterred because of the failure of the hijackers’ mission for flight 93?

Todd Beamer and the other brave men and women that chose to stand up against the terrorists on flight 93 did not choose to be heroes that day. They merely chose to go about their everyday lives, which involved a flight on United 93 that morning.

Nonetheless, when they were faced with an unwanted yet unavoidable, grave situation, they decided to rise up. They chose courage. They decided to fight against evil. And they ultimately sacrificed their own lives for the good of their country, so that we might continue to enjoy the freedom that we have always known.

I am so thankful for their lives and their example.

Let’s not forget them. Let’s strive to be more like them.

We may never be called to give up our lives selflessly for others in the way that they did that day, but we can live selflessly for others every day. We can sacrifice in simple ways for the good of others. We can love like Jesus through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Let’s ask God to help us do so. Let’s ask Him to unify our country through His love expressed through us as believers. And let’s pray most of all for those within our country that are most easy to see as our enemies, that God would be at work in their lives and ours.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:12 ESV

And finally,

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”

1 Corinthians 6:13-14 ESV

Abiding Light: A Book Review

This is the type of book that I hope you’ll never have a need to read. If you do, however, I hope a copy makes its way into your hands.

Written by my mother’s cousin’s daughter, Heidi L. Paulec shares the personal account of losing her cousin Jamie to death by suicide, including fond memories of him when he was alive, what it was like to receive the news of his death, and how this event has affected her life since then.

The book is very much a family keepsake in that it not only shares Heidi’s thoughts and feelings regarding this loss, but she also shares her family’s memories of Jamie (up to four generations), their thoughts and feelings upon receiving the news of his death, and how they have found hope in God since this tragedy through their firm foundation of faith.

The book is compelling, easy to read, and deeply vulnerable as each family member shares about their own struggles in the face of loss. Nonetheless, hope is the underlying theme of this book. Even in the darkest moments after Jamie’s passing, Heidi and her family have been able to see how God was and has always been their abiding light, sustaining them in their profound grief.

One of the greatest gifts this book has to offer (in my personal opinion) is the knowledge of knowing that no one is alone in such a journey of loss. Others have walked down this road and are ready and willing to lend a listening ear and a lot of empathy and compassion to those who suddenly find themselves in a similar story. Heidi offers resources at the end of her book so that individuals can connect with others in their journey of grief. She can also be contacted at her own website, found here: https://heidipaulec.com/abiding-light/.

Heidi furthermore offers the gift of hope to her readers, as already mentioned. Although she felt steeped in the murky waters of confusion in the early days of her loss, she has been able to see how God was right beside her, sustaining her and providing healing every step of the way.

Not only is this a good resource for those who have experienced loss of a loved one to death by suicide, but it is also an excellent resource for friends or family who are walking alongside a loved one who has lost someone by this means. Heidi provides her own thoughts about how she was best comforted throughout this time, providing the reader ideas on how to show compassion to others.

If you or someone you know is experiencing such a loss, please consider purchasing this book. It may very well be instrumental in your own healing journey (or the journey of someone you may know). It can be found in Barnes and Noble and online at Amazon.

I pray that none of us will ever have to experience this sort of loss, but may we be ready to be part of the healing journey of anyone who may journey this painful path. May we point others in their darkest moments of life to the Light of the World, the one and only Abiding Light.

God prepares us for grief with gifts from his hand, his mind, his heart. He strengthens. He comforts. And he connects us with a resilience and love like no other.”

Heidi L. Paulec, Abiding Light

God is the Ruler Yet

Photo by Suliman Sullehi on Pexels.com

I haven’t been writing much as of late because JJ, Liam, and I are out of town visiting family. The situation in Afghanistan has been heavy on my heart, however, and I have felt compelled to write about it. Perhaps I’ll write a longer post regarding my thoughts when we get back home next week, but for now, I find comfort in the following words from the song This Is My Father’s World (you can listen to the complete version here–https://youtu.be/32dsCyNCYGE):

This is my Father's world
O let me never forget
That though the wrongs seem oft so strong
God is the Ruler yet

God is the ruler yet, and I’m praying that this truth will become evident to the Afghan people in the days to come and that many will be drawn into a personal relationship with Jesus as a result.

Although I cannot pretend to understand why God is allowing this situation to take place, I am grateful for how He is drawing believers around the world to pray for this nation and do not doubt that He will draw men and women to Him as we pray. So, let’s continue to lift up the Afghan people in prayer and to trust God to work in powerful ways on their behalf.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16b ESV

Persevering

The potted plant in my backyard that I blogged about several posts back is really beginning to bloom, leaving me equally delighted and surprised each morning with all the new blossoms bursting forth.

Weeks ago, this plant reminded me to look at my own life and to uproot and cast aside any aspect that had become like a weed. It reminded me not to be tending to areas in my life that would ultimately negatively affect others and me.

Today, this plant is teaching me a very distinct lesson. It is reminding me to persevere.

We may have areas in our lives that look like weeds to us at first. They may seem ugly and hard and like a waste of time. It may be tempting to simply give up and cast aside these issues in life to begin anew. But let’s not forget what these plants have the potential to become. Let’s not throw away flowers because they at first look like weeds.

Although we may not see results for weeks, months, or even years, let’s not give up on doing what is best for these aspects in our lives. Let’s continue to hope and to water these “plants” through our prayers and tender care, ultimately trusting that God will bring about a glorious harvest for His glory.

What are some areas of your life in which you need to persevere? In what aspects do you need to trust that God will bring about a harvest as you faithfully tend to the “garden” that He has given you?

It’s not easy to persevere, but its end result is worth it, so let’s press on in faith and believe that something beautiful will blossom from our efforts.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 8:9 ESV

Zesty Italian Potato Salad

My mom flew into town during the Fourth of July weekend, so my younger sister texted me (instead of her) for her potato salad recipe—the one we enjoyed so much growing up. I found it, snapped a picture, and sent it to her by text. The incident made me remember my own version of potato salad, however—one that I had made for JJ and me a number of times when we were first married.

 I hadn’t made it for a couple of years, but I had potatoes and some other ingredients on hand, so I bought the few remaining ingredients needed and went about making this delightful, tangy dish.

This potato salad is different than others in that it doesn’t use mayonnaise as its base. It uses zesty Italian dressing instead, which is why I gave it its name. That’s not the only ingredient that makes it different, however. This mouth-watering summer side dish is a delightful combination of soft potatoes and carrots with chewy hard-boiled egg, crunchy celery bits, tangy banana peppers, and salty green olives (or black olives, if preferred). Add a hint of spice with jalapeño peppers, if desired, and some sunflowers seeds for an extra bit of crunch. It’s a dish that is bursting with flavor in every bite and sure to impress a crowd. Want to take things up a notch? Turn this side into a potato salad bar, leaving the zesty Italian-seasoned potatoes and carrots in a large serving bowl with all the other ingredients in smaller serving bowls so that each individual can personalize his or her serving. It will be a sure crowd-pleaser at the next summer party for all ages to enjoy.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe for this festive potato salad. And as always, let me know if you make this dish and what you think!

ZESTY ITALIAN POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs potatoes (about 6 potatoes)
  • 5 medium carrots (about 1 ½ c)
  • 1 ½ c zesty Italian dressing
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped (about ½ c)
  • ½ c green olives, cut in half
  • ½ c banana peppers
  • ¼ c to ½ c pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • Sunflower seeds (optional)

Instructions:

Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a pot of lightly salted water and boil for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Strain the carrots and potatoes and set aside for 10-15 minutes to cool slightly. Once cooled, pour the dressing over the potatoes and carrots and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then add the eggs, celery, olives, banana peppers, and jalapeños (if using). Sprinkle a teaspoon of sunflower seeds over each individual serving, if desired, and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

What Are You Growing?

“Is that a weed?” JJ asked me as he looked out the glass door to a potted plant in our backyard.

“No!” I retorted, feeling protective of my little plant. I explained to him how a friend of mine had given me flower seeds for Mother’s Day last year, and I had finally planted them at the beginning of this summer. The longer we stared at the plant, however, the more I started to wonder if JJ’s original thoughts might be right. Could it be that the seeds never took root and that a weed had somehow worked its way into the pot instead?

JJ asked me if I was going to uproot the plant in light of these ponderings. I decided not to, however. Not yet, at least. I’m not sure if it was hope or laziness motivating me, but I planned to give the plant awhile longer before determining my next course of action. I didn’t want to uproot something that could possibly bloom into flowers, and since the plant was contained, I wasn’t worried that this it might wreak havoc on my yard. If nothing else, I would have a good laugh at the end of the summer over all the love and care that I poured into it if it ended up being a weed.

As much as I still find this possibility funny a month or so later, it has caused me to wonder what all I have been growing in my own life on a more serious note. Were the seeds that I wrote about planting in the spring (found here: https://anticipatingadventure.com/2021/05/15/planting-seeds/) possibly giving way to weeds rather than the beautiful garden I had envisioned?

The funny thing about figurative planting is that the seeds we start with are not always the plants we get in the end if we are not careful. If we neglect our plants or use the wrong fertilizer or overwater them, they can turn into something different than what we had originally imagined. Much like literal gardening, a plant will die if neglected. In a figurative sense, however, the plant that is fed the wrong fertilizer or overwatered can quickly turn into a monstruous weed that begins to choke out the other plants in our gardens. The question, then, is what type of plants are we currently growing in our gardens? Moreover, are we tending to them properly so that they can continue to grow into the plant that they are meant to be?

In May, I planted something new in my life. It was a year’s subscription to an online fitness program that was on sale, and although this new aspect of my life has proved to be a wonderful addition thus far, I am becoming more aware of my need to be cautious with this “plant” so that it doesn’t turn into a weed.

The truth is, I find myself thinking about this program more as of late, so I have to ask myself if I am giving it more attention than it deserves. Is it taking up more time than it should? Are my priorities where they should be?

These are the questions that we should ask ourselves in general as we tend to the hopes, dreams, goals, desires, etc. that are sprouting up in our lives. Let’s not neglect any plant entirely (unless God shows us differently), but let’s be careful not to give any one of them greater importance than they merit either. Let’s not water weeds. After all, whatever we grow in our gardens has the potential to affect all the other plants within it, so let’s tend to each one properly and uproot any weeds as needed. Furthermore, let’s give godly, trusted friends permission to point out any weeds that we may be unaware of, and to give us advice on how to help our fruit-bearing plants grow when needed.

Several weeks after my initial conversation with JJ, my mom came into town, and since she has been gardening for years, I asked her if she thought the potted plant might be a weed. After examining it for a minute, she told me she thought it might be a marigold plant and reassured me that the flowers were always the last thing to bloom. It put my mind to ease to hear this and to know that the time spent taking care of that plant should render something beautiful in the end.

Just as we need godly individuals to help us recognize weeds at times,  we sometimes need their help to recognize when a plant is worth growing. Sometimes we need their encouragement to persevere in our gardening attempts and to trust that the end result will be worth it, as hard as it may be to see in the moment.

Had my mom told me she thought my plant was a weed, I may have uprooted it right then. But because of her words, I have continued to tend to it, and just as of yesterday, I noticed several sphere-like shapes beginning to form on the top of it. It makes me hopeful that I’ll see some gorgeous orange flowers soon.

Literal and figurative gardening will always require lots of work, but in the end, both are worth it. Knowing that a harvest is to be reaped (or in my literal case, flowers are to be enjoyed), makes the time and effort worth it. And the lessons learned along the way are valuable treasures gained in the process—a harvest of its own.

The Inner Struggles of a Mom

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

My son gashed his chin at the park a few weeks ago. It’s not something I intended to write about, but it really left an impression on me. Considering all the blood and how deep the cut was, I think I responded fairly well. My son was a real trooper, too. He cried on the way to the hospital, as is to be expected from a three-year-old, but he quickly calmed down as I continued to reassure him that I was taking him to the emergency room so that he could get better. He even managed to take a nap in my arms as we sat in the waiting room.

Three hours later, after a lot of waiting and a bit of medical care, my son’s chin was finally stitched up, and we headed to the nearest drive thru to pick up a late lunch before heading home. Liam was soon back to his happy, rambunctious self as we ravenously scarfed down our food. It was as if he had already forgotten about the incident. Life was far from normal for me, however. Apart from the stress of trying to keep Liam’s stitches dry and clean that week and keeping him from picking at them or injuring himself any further, my mind was brewing with unwanted thoughts.

That day, I was freshly reminded that I cannot always protect my son. I wasn’t able to protect him at eleven months when he had to be admitted to the hospital for two nights for a disease my husband and I had never even heard about. I couldn’t protect him subsequently at his follow up appointment two weeks later, where the doctor determined that his health had been affected by the illness and he would have to be put on medication indefinitely. I couldn’t protect him eight months later when he slipped on a step at the zoo and had to get stitches for the first time, and I couldn’t protect him this last time when he tripped over his own feet just a few feet from my side.

As much as I try, I am unable to shield my son from much of the harm that comes from living in a fallen world, and this most recent incident was a vivid and painful reminder to me of just that. I am incapable of completely keeping him safe, and I always will be. But the thought that I wrestle with more as I think about all of this is knowing that God can keep him from harm, but He doesn’t always choose to do so. Liam will continue to experience sickness, pain, and sorrow in different seasons of his life, just like everyone else, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

My faith does not falter as I consider these things, however, nor do I doubt God’s character. I have learned long ago to view my circumstances through the lens of God’s goodness rather than the other way around, and He has helped me to see Him at work in the different hardships I have faced thus far. I simply write this to confess that I’m struggling to reconcile myself to the fact that my family’s story may not turn out the way I want it to. We may experience greater suffering, sorrow, and loss than we have ever known, and there’s no way for us to undo whatever hardships we may face.

The most meaningful truth that I keep coming back to, however, is knowing that God did not spare His own Son for me. He gave Him over to a painful and gruesome death on a cross so that I might choose Jesus and have an eternity awaiting me with Him. And if God loved me so much to give His Son for me, then I can trust that He will not abandon me in my darkest moments and worst sufferings. He intimately knows my heart and all its emotions, and whatever may come, He will strengthen, comfort, and sustain me. He will completely see me through this life on earth until He sees me Home, where pain and sorrow will be no more.

I’m also comforted in knowing that God did not spare His own Son for Liam to give him a chance to believe in Him and be saved if he so chooses (and I fervently pray that he does).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

God loves Liam more than JJ and I ever could, and it would do me good to really meditate upon that fact and to find freedom in God’s great love for him. I can’t keep my son from harm, and God may not always shield him from all harm either, but I know that God can minister to Liam in his pain, just as He has done for JJ and me over and over again. He can comfort him, give him peace, and outpour His love upon Him in ways unlike anyone else. And those moments, in turn, can become the stepping stones that God uses to build faith in Liam and a deeper understanding of who He is.

Ultimately, I know that I must choose not to dwell on the possible hardships that this life may bring. The Bible admonishes us to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), so I will seek to turn my thoughts to those things. But for every new stitch, sickness, or sorrow that may come our way, I want to keep remembering that God did not spare His own Son because of His immense love for us, and He is ready to outpour His love, kindness, compassion, and comfort upon my family and me. We just have to keep seeing our circumstances through the lens of His goodness. We just have to keep believing that He will carry us through this life until He carries us home.

French Toast Made from Challah

My mom was making French toast out of challah long before it was a thing. Back in the early 90s, when all of us children were still living at home, she would whip up a couple of loaves on a Friday afternoon. We would then enjoy some of the freshly-baked bread with our dinner that evening, and she would convert the leftovers into delicious, fluffy French toast the next morning. It was undoubtedly our most favorite breakfast of the week and is one of my favorite memories today.

Sometimes we would eat the French toast with butter and maple syrup. Other times, we would have it with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Whatever way my mom served it, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we began to limit how much bread we would eat the night before just so that we would have a greater quantity of challah for French toast the next day. Freshly baked bread with butter is really good (I’m almost drooling just thinking about it), but nothing beats French toast made from homemade challah. It is the best!

Nowadays, French toast made from challah is becoming much more common. I’ve seen it on menus at different restaurants and have noticed it in recipes online, and while I’m happy for more people to discover this delectable dish, I always have the urge to tell people that my mom was making French toast like this first. So, if you’re reading this, now you know! 😉 Maybe she was even the one to start the trend!

This recipe requires quite a bit of time to make. The good thing, however, is that it is fairly hands off once the dough is made. The majority of the time spent making the bread will be letting the dough rise and baking it. Once it is baked, it’s a simple matter of mixing up the French toast mixture, soaking each bread slice in it, and then cooking it over the stove (but do me a favor and eat a slice or two fresh out of the oven with butter first. You will not regret it!).

This recipe would be perfect for a special, summer brunch served with strawberries and whipped cream. You can really enjoy this with whatever toppings you desire, however. Some additional great options are butter, syrup, sliced bananas, nuts, berries, Nutella, peanut butter, or preserves.

What toppings do you enjoy on your French toast? Let me know in the comments section! 😊 And, as always, if you make this recipe, let me know! I’d love to know how it turns out for you!

FOR THE CHALLAH    

Ingredients:

  • 1 package yeast (1 T)
  • 2 t sugar
  • ¼ c lukewarm water
  • 3 ½ to 4 ½ c flour
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c lukewarm water
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions:

Gently combine the yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup lukewarm water in a small bowl. Set aside for five minutes. Meanwhile, mix together 3 c flour and the salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well and add the eggs, oil, and remaining cup lukewarm water to the middle of it. Mix together, then slowly add more flour as necessary, ¼ c at a time. Start kneading as the dough becomes stiff, adding more flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Do NOT add too much flour, however, as this will dry out the dough and make it denser once baked.

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, brush the dough with oil and let rise in the mixing bowl, covered, for an hour. After the dough has risen, divide it into three even portions, then roll each one into long log shapes. After creating three strands from each portion, braid them together on a greased baking sheet and let rise another 30 minutes. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the optional sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake 20-30 minutes until the bread is golden on top and baked through (thicker loaves may require additional time).

FOR THE FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 slices of Challah, cooled and cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch slices
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ c milk of choice
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • ½ t maple extract (optional)
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2-3 T butter

Instructions:

Heat a pan over the stove medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, maple extract, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together until thoroughly combined. Melt a tablespoon of butter over the pan to coat it, then dip a slice of Challah into the egg mixture until well coated and place into the pan, repeating with additional slices of Challah until the bottom of the pan is filled with Challah slices. Bake for several minutes until the French toast is thoroughly browned on each side. Repeat the process with any remaining pieces, making sure to coat the bottom of the pan with butter again. Enjoy your French toast hot with whatever optional toppings desired. Makes 8-10 slices.

God is Merciful

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

It drizzled a couple of times earlier this month, and both times were a vivid reminder to me of how much it rained in June a year ago—something odd for our desert region known as the Sun City. My family and I were not complaining though. With highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit throughout most of the summer months, the rain provided moments of refreshing to our parched land and weary souls.

I have always enjoyed the rain, so I felt especially encouraged by it, and even more so on the few occasions that a rainbow appeared in the sky afterwards. It was a good reminder of God’s mercy expressed through His covenant to Noah after the flood, which is as follows:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Genesis 9:8-13 ESV

The rainbows from last summer reassured me of God’s tender mercy toward humanity, which I was very grateful for after the hardship we had already faced worldwide at that point. He is merciful and gracious toward mankind and consistently reminds us of that in different ways.

This June, I have seen quite a few rainbows as well, but not the ones that appear in the sky. They have been manmade symbols that are especially prominent in ads, clothing, and commercials this time of year, and although the intended meaning of this politicized symbol is far from the purpose for which God created it, I’m beginning to see God’s mercy even through this manmade form. I see God’s mercy because I see how He allows humanity to live and move and breathe even when we distort His creation for sinful purposes. And I see it, because He sustains the lives of those who actively reject Him and seek to live in wickedness. And I see it more personally because He gave His Son to spare me of my deserved punishment, and He has forgiven me of all my sins.

God shows mercy so that individuals may have the opportunity to place their faith in Him, because He desires that no one should perish and forever be separated from Him.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. “

2 Peter 3:9 ESV

But let’s not confuse His mercy for leniency, my friends. He may not destroy the whole earth by water again, but make no mistake—He will execute His judgment on this world. By His Word, He will execute judgment and destruction on the ungodly.

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

2 Peter 3:7 ESV

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

2 Peter 3:10 ESV

For those who have placed their faith in Jesus, their sin has already been paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But for those who reject Jesus and continue to live their lives on their own path, whether in their own self-righteousness, wickedness, or somewhere in between, they will pay for their sin through an eternity in hell.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23 ESV

God is merciful, but He is also just, and we will see His justice completely executed on this earth someday, so let us not take His mercy for granted. Let us not presume that we can live apart from Him and face no consequences for that decision, regardless of how good we think our lives might be. And for those of us who have confidence in our salvation through Christ Jesus, let’s remember to pray for the lost often—that they would understand just how merciful God is and that His mercy would draw them to Him. Let’s allow all rainbows, furthermore, to remind us to do just that.