By Libbo Crosswhite
There is something eerily soothing about a summer rainstorm. May provided plenty of those for us to enjoy. With the wind blowing, the roar of the thunder echoed as we watched the drops splatter on the concrete, one drop quickly lead to a steady soaking of the entire concrete. We saw the crispness of the bright, green trees afterward and could smell the strong aroma of wet grass—the stillness afterward was a peaceful reminder of the majesty of God’s creation. In fact, our first day of summer was spent watching an afternoon rainstorm roll in. Storms are a depiction of God’s wonder and power and I firmly believe that some of the mystery of God is best experienced watching the progression of a summer storm.
Four words stayed with me in my journey for this month’s article: “God goes before me.” It’s a promise and an outright declaration for anyone who spends any amount of time in God’s word. Over and over again, we see God’s plan come to fruition in the seemingly hardest of circumstances. The Bible itself is a promise that began with creation and in God’s grace continued even after sin entered the world. A promise that we see so richly in the story of Noah and the ark. An imperfect man who had experienced God’s grace and sought to fight temptation in an effort to lead his family in the ways of the Lord. It’s one of the first stories we learn and yet, I wonder if we have ever sat in the promise of the rainbow in the midst of our storms.
I vividly remember the storm that rolled in on the way to my dad’s funeral that summer day 22 years ago. I can remember thinking in my tiny 7-year-old brain that there was a part of God telling me that He was sad, too. And just as quickly as it had started, it had passed and a clear, brilliant rainbow beamed from East to West. It was a glimmer of hope and allowed for one of the foundational truths that my mom taught me that day—the rainbow was a reminder that even in the darkest of storms, the sun will shine again and that God is both good and in control.
Part of the mystery of a summer storm lies in the fact that the sun can be boldly beaming on one side of town just mere miles, or sometimes yards, from a ferocious downpour of rain. What a picture of God’s sovereignty that can sometimes be so difficult to understand until years later.
About 20 miles away from my father’s graveside, Brandon’s Shiloh Park was hosting its annual Independence Day Little League tournament. There was one particular 6-year-old who garnered both the MVP and Championship trophy with a Sports Center-worthy catch at first base. In the same season I was watching my father be lowered into the ground, conversely, my husband was celebrating (no doubt with the best of Little League snacks) Philadelphia’s first win in this particular tournament in years. You know how I know that? Because about 4 days ago, his dad told me.
Nearly 22 years have passed, but Allen remembers where he was in his son’s big moment because he remembered a time when he so longed for his dad to do the same for him. His difficult relationship with his dad shaped his fatherhood—he wanted to invest time with his sons in the way that he had never experienced. And because of that, Clay saw what it looked like to be a God-fearing, family-centered father. Allen’s investment in his sons set the foundation for my future family. And Allen’s dedication to his sons is yet another reminder that God goes before us, in our tragedies, in our triumphs—in all things.
Strangely enough, studying God’s truth in the story of Noah has allowed me to see the rainbow right in front me for nearly 16 years of my life. God went and continues to go before me in the relationship I have developed with my father in law—from Clay’s high school, summer league, and college baseball games together to heartfelt talks at the Neshoba County Fair and everything in between, I will forever be grateful for his influence in my own life, but certainly for the groundwork he has so clearly set for my children. The heartache that we both experienced in our earthly relationships with our fathers led us to find strength in our Heavenly one and despite Allen’s painful past, he steered his family in a different direction that set into motion a path that, Lord willing, will be felt for generations to come.
I have no doubt that while Noah’s wife took care of everything on that boat (I think of her often when cleaning out my car because I imagine that the ark smelled similar,) Noah steered the direction of the ark. He prepared his family for the storms and with God’s help, led them through the devastation of the storm. That’s the power of fatherhood and I am eternally grateful that Allen took the reins of his ark so many years ago and taught his sons the truth and goodness of God’s promises that have shaped both the men they are and the fathers they continue to become.
It’s no secret that the generations before us, for better or worse, are so ingrained in our own journeys through parenthood. When we find gratitude in the midst of our pain, we begin to see the beauty of just how many ways Gods has gone before us. God says in Genesis 9:12, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.”
May we continue to find the rainbows God has laid before us.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 4 years old and a son, Russell, who is 2 1/2 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.