Sometimes, when you are ready to give up, God gives you a transfiguration.
We got a late start on our cross country trek to South Carolina when I began
My godmother, who is also my aunt, had generously rented a minivan and packed it full
with things she was convinced I needed.
It was also the intended rescue vehicle for my 1981 Oldsmobile which might get
overheated and die in the desert if I cranked up the eight track player too loud.
We knew we had to push, since we only had four days between the end of my summer
job and the start of my orientation at seminary, and we assumed that if I arrived
one minute late for that, the church would never let me be a pastor.
But we had a Plan, which was foolproof until the first morning.
Family drama meant a late start, which meant extra stress and speed catching up
with The Plan, which left us on the side of the western Arizona road in the searing
heat as steam rose from both the rental van and the woman driving it.
We left our unplanned hotel room the next morning at 4:00am with three days to
exchange the rental, unload and repack its contents, and complete the drive from
Kingman to Columbia, South Carolina.
If you've ever watched Smokey and the Bandit, you have the basic idea.
Driving east through a pounding rain, I worried about the timeline and Auntie's
mental health and the family I was leaving behind and wondered whether I should
just forget this pipe dream of being a pastor.
Was I being selfish, delusional, stubborn?
Was God trying to protect the church from me by keeping me out?
Is God angry at me for this?
Should I just pull over and turn around and do something else with my life?
The rain thickened, the thunder boomed.
And then, in one narrow blue ribbon of sky, the sun rose.
I pulled the Oldsmobile off to the side of the road and stepped out into the storm.
Lightning flashed to the north; sunrise blazed to the east, and against the pitch
black western sky, spanning a desert valley carpeted with flowers, blazed a fully
half-circular double rainbow.
Nature was transfigured.
Auntie asked what was wrong now?
But I just stood there in that baptismal rain, soaked to my soul with new clarity.
That glimpse carried me the rest of the way, that long drive and ever since.
God knew that the disciples of Jesus had a long, hard road ahead of them, much more
daunting than the climb up the high mountain.
It began six days earlier with the outset of the crazy journey named church.
After some time on the gossip and rumors, Jesus asked his disciples, But who do
you say that I am?
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus handed him the keys and said "I'm starting my church."
It was a beautiful moment that vanished like a rainbow.