Article of the week: A reminder of his covenant
13 February 2021
Nicola Walmsley encourages us to look for rainbows
THE experiences of 2020 were like being on a stormy sea, with waves cresting overhead followed by troughs way down low – it was a year of immense highs and depths of grief. Even the time in between those two extremes was uncertain and testing.
At the end of the year, just after we heard the news that our part of England had entered Tier 3 again, my husband, Colin, and I were out walking on a nearby grassy common called Birkrigg when we spotted a small rainbow in the sky. I later drew a picture of Noah’s ark in my journal. At first it was just the ark on the stormy sea, depicting my 2020. Later, as I pondered things, I added the rainbow, depicting the hope that I have in 2021, according to God’s promises in his word.
God’s rainbows always remind me of the promise of his covenant with mankind: ‘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 the sign of the covenant between me and the Earth’ (Genesis 9:12 and 13).
Noah was locked in the ark with his wife, family and wild animals of every kind, safe from harm and destruction during the great flood. I thought of our lockdown, where the world seems out of control, uncertain and unsure of what’s next. I know that God knows, and he is in control. He is still on his throne.
There was an outbreak of bird flu near the end of 2020, so my three hens have been in lockdown too. They can be messy eaters and are not toilet trained, so thankfully they are not in my lockdown ‘ark’ – they are sheltering in my garden shade house for the time being. They will enjoy some free-ranging again, once the danger is past. When that will be is a mystery, as there’s no vaccine offered to domestic birds for this strain of bird flu. They don’t have the sense of despair that we humans might have, but neither do they have our sense of hope.
Isaiah 43:1–3 in the Message paraphrase says: ‘Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – because I am God.’ What a promise!
We’ve had a lot of rain in the Lake District, and the garden was sodden before the hard frost arrived. But I have a little plaque with an Oscar Wilde quote on it: ‘When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.’ With the rain comes the prospect of rainbows. Look out for them. God put the first one in the sky to be a sign of his promise. It is a promise for all generations. God is faithful, and I trust in him.
Noah remained locked in the ark until the flood waters subsided and it was safe to disembark. Then God placed his rainbow sign in the sky. We, however, are blessed with rainbows amid the lockdowns – even while still within his ‘ark’ of safety. I am thankful that, just as the great flood waters eventually subsided and Noah and company could leave the ark safely, we will not have to remain confined in lockdown indefinitely. I believe this pandemic will not overwhelm us and that it will subside.
God speaks to us through his word, but I also find he speaks through even the smallest things in his creation. While in lockdown, with many people not rushing about as they usually would, I encourage you to take time to look for God’s covenant reminders in the everyday beauty that surrounds us. You will be surprised at how many there are daily, if you only take a moment to look.
God’s reminders of his promises are closer than you think. May 2021 be a year of his covenant revelations for you.
NICOLA IS THE COMMUNITY MISSION FACILITATOR, BARROW-IN-FURNESS