Looking up

Image by Maciejewski at Wunderground.com

A rare rainbow phenomenon appeared over central Iowa yesterday afternoon, and I saw it.

Driving south over Red Rock Dam, I noticed a long, low cloud shimmering with rainbow colors. I took off my sunglasses because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Sun rays glimmered through the cloud in the awesome way that always reminds me of God’s glory, and brilliant rainbow colors layered the entire cloud.

Because I was on the dam, I couldn’t stop to take a picture with my antiquated, not-so-smart phone, but the pictures I’ve seen online fail to reflect the brightness and beauty of the cloud I observed. Picture number one of those shared here by WHO TV viewers comes closest to what I witnessed, however, the cloud I saw was distinctly separate from all others. And the layers of colors were larger and longer, and far more vivid.

What a gift to witness this rare rainbow! The unimaginative technical term is circumhorizontal arc, although some people call it a fire rainbow. What I saw didn’t really resemble flames, rather it radiated brilliant layers of colored light.

My mind spins with wonder at the sight and I wonder about biblical rainbows and cloudy pillars of light. Was yesterday’s marvel a dim reflection of ancient reality?

If I hadn’t been looking up, I’d have missed it. And I tend to go through life looking down. I walk with my eyes on the ground. I drive with my eyes on the road. I live with my focus on myself.

Lately God’s been sending reminders about looking up. A viral YouTube video urges us to Look Up from our handheld electronic devices to focus on people. The well-down video depicts the irony of social media creating isolation. It encourages us to look up from electronic communication and interact with real people in the real world.

Social media steals more than human fellowship; it also infringes on divine fellowship. We scroll through Facebook posts when we could be communing with our Creator.

Two weeks ago, in five different speaking venues, I encouraged women to experience rest in God by focusing less on themselves and more on God. Yesterday Bible Gateway published this quote from Mere Christianity as part of its daily C.S. Lewis reading plan:

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way — centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown (I found this quote on page 168 of my 1952 Macmillan edition).

Looking down in introspective navel-gazing is what we do best. But Christ calls us to begin looking up to surrender all and lose ourselves in him.

Yesterday’s brilliant rainbow cloud reminded me to keep looking up. The pale moon of my individual “I” must fade in the blazing sun of the divine “I AM.”


6 thoughts on “Looking up

  1. The kids and I saw the rainbow, too – something similar to the picture you linked to. Awe-inspiring, wasn’t it? Your application to “look up” is beautiful. And that YouTube video is wonderful. I hadn’t seen it. Thanks for sharing. It’s all too easy to get caught up in our screens – I’m guilty, too. What is this phenomenon doing to our generation?

    1. I’m so glad you and your children saw the rainbow, Angela! It was awesome, in the proper sense of the word. I, too, am guilty of looking too much at screens instead of focusing on the Creator, his creation, and my fellow creatures.

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