Somewhere Over the Rainbow?

This has been a difficult time.

Most of the trials that came barreling through our door recently are not things I can even talk about.  My husband and I are okay, maritally and spiritually (Praise the Lord), but our trials were just not of that nature at this time.  Instead, they constituted catch my breath, feel the sorrow down in my toes, I-can’t-imagine-how-I’m-supposed-to-get-out-of-bed-tomorrow hardships.

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high…

There was some good stress too, like writing, self-publishing, and promoting two new books.  But it was still stressful, especially trying not to ditch all of my responsibilities and family to get it done.  Tears were also shed in that difficult and lengthy process.

There’s a land that I’ve heard of, once in a lullaby…

So I said, “Slow down!  Lord, You need to just give us a break now!  We’re not scheduling anything with anyone for a while, or doing anything but sleeping in, and going to parks, and cleaning my house, and cleaning my SOUL.”

My bottle of tears doubled in this last year, I can tell you that.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…

But, right in the midst of my “well-deserved time of trial-free living,” we lost my husband’s beautiful little sister.

And, as the tears flowed, and as we raced to California to be there and weep with his family, I gasped at God, “How can you do this?  How can you take away someone else we love?  How can you devastate our family like this?  How can you cause more pain?”

Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me…

When my youngest daughter threw up just days before Victoria’s Memorial service – we all came down with stomach flu later –  and as I pulled dirty sheets off of my mother-in-law’s bed with quaking hands, I couldn’t hold back my tearful anger.  “You call Yourself a God of peace?” I shouted in my head.  “Where is it?  You say You give it when we ask!  You say you give peace and rest and comfort.  You are keeping it from me!

Where troubles melt like lemon drops…

My anger startled me.  Like a waving pompom in the hand of a hyperactive cheerleader, anger is always a glaring sign to me to stop and pay attention.  It is not easily ignored.  It means something is wrong.

Evaluating myself, however, I could not find the cause.  I was still pursuing and seeking God’s face.  I was spending my normal amount of time in prayer and Bible reading.  I was trying to be obedient to what He wanted me to do in the midst of these trials.  I was asking Him to keep His promises.  Right?

Away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me…

It wasn’t until I sang the words of Elizabeth Prentiss’ hymn, along with the hundred and fifty people who came to my dear little sister-in-law’s memorial service, that I realized my idol.

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ, to thee;
More love to thee, more love to thee!

Had Ms. Prentiss written these words to me?  Somehow, in the midst of seeking the Lord, falling on my face before him as I lay beaten from heartache and testing this year, I had stopped grabbing His feet for security, and was manhandling the gifts behind His throne instead.

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh, why can’t I?

God does give peace and rest.  But I was seeking and idolizing and worshiping those gifts.  Not Christ.

I was ready to tell the Sovereign Lord of the universe that He had taken enough people, planned enough grief, and allowed enough pain for this year.  That I was going to fight against Him to make sure the entire extended Conte family got a break.  That I would fight for this peace that was my right as a human being.

In my head somewhere, I had a land beyond the rainbow waiting for my family and me.  My mother-in-law who had suffered enough, my own parents, myself, my kids, and my spouse.  That there was a Rainbow Land where clouds stayed away.  We used to have a “great life” before, and we would achieve it again – by golly!  Nothing was going to stop us from tapping our sparkly red shoes together and attaining it.  And God?  Why weren’t you delivering on that Rainbow Land about now?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh, why can’t I?

In “More Love to Thee,” I realized that the striving was not for peace.  That was an earthly joy.  It wasn’t of God.  The striving was for Him alone.  To love Him more.  To know Him more.

This is life!

There isn’t a Rainbow Land.  Not for me any more.  Some of these trials are here to stay.  We will never have Victoria back, and maybe not the other people I’ve lost spiritually and emotionally this year.  This is life.

And, for some people, Life means a new death a week from starvation.

For some people, Life means Ebola or MERS.

For some people, Life means imprisonment for having a Bible.

For some people, Life means rejection, by everyone in their family, because they are a Christian.

For some people, high-stress never ends.

Do they sit there going, “Going to be mad at God for right now, and going to do nothing but fight for my right to have a peaceful life.  Waiting for my Rainbow Land.  Until I get it, I’m going to be angry”?  Do they lie down and grow a layer of spiritual dust?  Does it mean they live without ever experiencing joy?

I think that peace is a brain thing now, not a circumstance thing. 

I think God can give peace even if you live in dusty Kansas and never see a rainbow.  That it can be something born of a truly sweet relationship with His Person, regardless of the twister blowing around you.

But I’m going to take this a step further.  I’m not going to seek Him, ultimately hoping for peace in the process.  I’m not going to seek Him and expect that He’s going to give me even a month free from pain.  I’m not going to seek Him expecting He’ll go, *ding ding ding*  “RJ is the winner of a free six-week trip to Rainbow Land!  One golden ticket coming your way!”

I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, and what troubles it might bring.  I’m going to expect Life.  I’m going to expect Kansas. I’m going to muster up some real bravery, and tell God I actually don’t need a break, or a rest, or peace from pain – because I have Him.  *gulp*  And He’s enough.  Even when He feels far away or hard to reach.  Even when I still get angry and have little screaming fits in my head.  I refuse to bow down in front of a present He may not actually want to give me right now.  Why would I worship a gift-wrapped box that might not even have my name on the tag?

In Christ alone, my hope is found.  He is my light, my strength, my song.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Feel free to save this meme off to your desktop, as it’s copyright free.  I created it to show our support for our dusty “Kansas lives” that are complete in Christ!

Rainbow Land

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31 thoughts on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow?

  1. We all feel that way at times. God knows before we even get angry in our minds toward Him . I was walking around campus yesterday on my lunch break and had a conversation of anger but it wasn’t at God it was at Satan. See I think this is where Gods peace has come in for me. I told that enemy you know I know you think you’ve won for now, but you have deceived yourself once again. You think you have my son, but you’re wrong, my Jesus is in control. See you know you’re time is running short and you screwed up a long time ago, you will be shut up soon and won’t be able to interfere with people’s lives any longer. No you don’t have my son, God has him and He has already won this battle so go back where you came from! I’m sure people are wondering who in the world is she talking to walking around lol then I thanked the Lord sang praise and worship songs for the rest of my walk, Hang in there girl. The Lord is on your side you will make it, remember He said His grace is sufficient! Love you!

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  2. I think SOOO many of us feel like this at one time or another, and relate, and need to hear this. Thank you for being courageous and writing and sharing this, my friend! Already God is using your trials to draw you closer to Himself – He is so good. ❤

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  3. The last five years have been very difficult physically, spiritually, and emotionally for my family and I. And recently this hymn has bobbed to the surface in my mind every day. I know you know it well, but I want to put the whole thing here for both of our encouragement:

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    Refrain:
    It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
    My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
    For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
    But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
    And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

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    • Absolutely beautiful. Another hymn we sang at the memorial service.
      I had not heard one of those verses – the one on peace! I love it.

      Thank you, Heidi.

      How interesting that, in these last couple years, you and I have really rekindled a close friendship. You have been good for me, my friend. ❤ God knew what He was doing when He gave you to me.

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  4. Yes, tough times certainly show us how much our relationships are based on meeting our desires and how much is based on loving the other person, especially God.

    JT

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  5. Just recently I realized that I allowed life’s circumstances to steal my joy. Two weeks ago the woman’s bible study at my church started the summer bible study focusing on Abundant Joy! Needless to say I am attending. God’s timing is perfect. Your Pop-pops favorite hymn is ‘It is Well with My Soul.’ It is my favorite too and I had that inscribed on his grave marker.

    Love you,
    Nanny

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  8. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your heart! We all go through moments where we lose sight of our purpose, to bring God glory. Yes, God promised peace, but he never promised happiness.

    I love the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul, but the story behind the hymn is what inspires me when I sing it. Horatio Spafford was a wealthy Chicago lawyer and he and his wife, Anna, had five children; four daughters and one son.

    His son died suddenly in 1871, followed shortly thereafter by the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed most of his real estate investments.

    In 1873, as a means of recovering from the tragedies that had befallen them, the Spafford family scheduled a trip to Europe by boat. Last minute business kept Horatio from leaving on schedule, so he sent his wife and daughters ahead of him. A few days later he received word that the ship had collided with something and all four daughters had died. Only his wife, Anna remained. On board the ship that took him to his wife, he penned the words to It Is Well With My Soul.

    It reminds me of one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Habakkuk 3. The story of Habakkuk takes place before the Southern Kingdom is taken captive to Babylon. Habakkuk is crying out to God because of all the injustice in the land and asking Him why He hasn’t done something about it. God answers him and says that he is going to do something, He is sending the Chaldeans. Habakkuk says, “Whoa, that’s not exactly what I meant by do something! (Rachel’s paraphrase) And God says that , yes, the Chaldeans are coming.

    Now, to us, that doesn’t mean much, but at the time the Chaldeans were the most feared people in the world. They were known for being extremely brutal to their captives. They tortured people and took great pleasure in doing so. So, Habakkuk was terrified. He knew ahead of time that his family and friends would fall to the fearsome Chaldeans, and he had to wait for that destruction to come.

    Then comes chapter 3, where Habakkuk prays to God, and toward the end of that prayer, he says,
    “Though the fig tree should not blossom
    And there be no fruit on the vines,
    Though the yield of the olive should fail
    And the fields produce no food,
    Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
    And there be no cattle in the stalls,
    Yet I will exult in the LORD,
    I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
    The LORD GOD is my strength,
    And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
    And makes me walk on my high places.

    This is my prayer always, that I would respond like Horatio Spafford and Habakkuk, no matter what circumstances come my way.

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    • I find it neat how similarly you and I think – how the same things comfort us.

      My VERY favorite Adventures in Odyssey tape, growing up, was the one on Horatio G. Spafford’s story. I used to listen to it over and over again.

      And the Habakkuk passage is also one I’ve written down in many notebooks as well as hung up. Such wonderful, wonderful things.

      Love you, Rachel!

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      • That is very neat! Both of those stories are ones that God has used in my life over the last few years. Almost three years ago, God kept drawing me to Habakkuk. I had studied it before, but this time I just kept meditating on it. I shared it over and over again with people, thinking at the time that maybe God had impressed it upon me to be able to prepare someone else’s heart to be ready and willing to respond rightly in some trial or tragedy. It was just a few months later that my dear, precious friend, Melva, fell down her stairs and died very suddenly. Melva was one of the most precious people I have ever had in my life. She adopted me as the daughter she never had, and I adopted her and her husband, Bob, as parents, since mine had essentially disowned me. I was completely overcome by grief. But, because God had prepared my heart by drawing me to Habakkuk, I was ready to exult in the Lord and rejoice in the God of my salvation! What a merciful savior, to prepare our hearts ahead of time for trials that He knows we will be going through! As I look back, I can see that He has done that for me so many times!

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      • When you told that story, I wished I could’ve met Melva! ❤

        We had a youth pastor that had all the interested teens come .to his house weekly to study Habakkuk with him and his family. It meant the world to me at the time, at the young age of 13, and stuck with me all these years. 🙂

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      • Melva was an amazing lady! She would have disputed that of course, but she taught me so much!!

        This youth pastor sounds like my kind of guy!! I am glad you had someone like that who encouraged you to study God’s Word and to seek Him. I had people like that in my life also that God used to impact me as well. I am so thankful that they were obedient, willing vessels. I can think of a handful of people who were like that for me as a young teen and into my college years. Wonderful memories!!

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      • Thinking about it now, he wasn’t even the youth pastor! He played the piano and guitar up front, but he was just a dad of one of the teens. So neat that he took that on. 🙂

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