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. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
– Genesis 9:12-17
In the Scripture above, God promises to not destroy all life by flood.
Floods happen. Floods destroy. Floods sweep lives away, but the rainbow comes, and God is reminded of His promise. In His sovereignty, the waters subside.
That sounds very simplistic, but that is the promise God made to Noah.
It doesn’t help to see the rainbow when it is your house that has been flooded.
In the area where we go to church, south of Pittsburgh, there was a lot of flooding recently. To understand the mechanism, the Pittsburgh area is in the foothills of the Allegheny mountains. There is very little soil. The soil that is there is stretched over rock. There is nothing to absorb the rain. It doesn’t take feet of rain to flood the narrow valleys. Inches of rain is all that is required. The humidity is lower than in the South, but when you have a fast-moving storm, a few inches can fall in a few hours. The rain runs down the hills into the valleys and concentrates in streams (creeks, runs, whatever), overflowing into streets, basements of houses, washing away everything in its path. This happened near our church.
I have said a few disparaging things about mission-driven churches. So many of this type of church do for the sake of doing, not glorifying God, but glorifying self. Some try to earn Heaven, others like what happens in the body, that good feeling when you help others, but there are those who quietly work, knowing that they glorify God.
A week ago, the elder in charge of Missions stepped to the pulpit to announce that the church was going to help local flood victims. How the mission work was organized made me feel that this mission was for the glory of God.
The preacher first announced that the nearby Baptist church would be having afternoon services at our church until their church was cleaned and refurbished. They could stay as long as they needed to stay.
Then the elder said that the knowledge of neighbors being flooded out touched her heart. She walked the streets of the flooded area, asking people who needed help. What she found out was that a side street was largely ignored, some houses completely ignored. That became the church’s mission. She investigated, talking to the people on the street. She announced from the pulpit a time to meet. She said that gloves and masks had been purchased. The mud contained raw sewage, so the work would not be easy, and she only wanted people that were up-to-date on their shots.
I sat there amazed. There was no commissioning where the volunteers were paraded in front of the congregation. I had protested when I volunteered to go to Hurricane Katrina relief. I wanted to be anonymous. It was not allowed – then. When we helped then, it was organized at the denominational level. To obtain help, paperwork had to be filed. A big ‘to do’ had to be made. Organization had to be established. But this mission wasn’t the “Hey, Look at us” mission. This was something else. It was neighbors helping neighbors. This was Christian love in action.
By e-mail, I found that the mission schedule (unknown when announced at the service) will be Sunday afternoon and Tuesday, all day, until the workers from the church are no longer needed. For those that cannot work, the nearby Methodist church is feeding the flood victims, and we have a list of food to buy. Sack lunches will be needed every day of the week. The Methodists will distribute, but the other churches are contributing.
Today, the rainbow means something different, but to those who study their Bibles, the rainbow means a promise to stop the floods before everything and everyone is gone. It reminds the faithful that work is needed. People need their lives put back in order. In the meantime, they need to be fed. The rainbow reminds God of His promise, and it should remind us of our promise, a promise to serve. There is no time for pomp and circumstance, it is time to get going.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.