So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. Ecclesiastes 9, verses 1 and 2.
All my life I’ve wondered what’s over the rainbow. In fact, I wrote these words while sitting in an airplane seat at 38,000 feet, listening to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It wasn’t the Judy Garland version: it was the mellow but beautifully haunting version from a few years ago by Israel Kamakawiwoole. You’ve heard it: one man playing a ukulele singing “ooh ooh ooh ooh.” I can’t listen to the song without getting teary eyed and wondering what’s over the rainbow. It’s one of those songs that seems wistfully appropriate at graduations, weddings or funerals. I’m sure the flight attendants were looking at me and wondering what I was writing or thinking of; the guy sitting beside me shot me a look like “dude, what’s wrong?” Can’t really blame them. I just get weepy sometimes.
And when I do, I still wonder what’s up ahead. Will I get what I want in life and just how will that happen? When will I finally be at peace? Will my family be ok? Will my kids grow in families of their own? Grandchildren? Great-grandchildren? What will my wife and I be like when we are old, if we grow old? Lord, what will happen? What’s over the rainbow?
I suppose I like the song because I was raised watching the Wizard of Oz on TV every Easter. Back when there were only three channels of TV in the US, CBS used to show the Wizard of Oz every Easter season, and we watched it every time. I remember my parents telling me ‘Dorothy was from Minnesota just like you are” and thinking that this can’t be so because Dorothy was from Kansas (though Judy Garland was indeed born in Northern Minnesota). And I was always mesmerized by the magic visions of living in a place where trees talked, scarecrows danced, and a great and powerful wizard could grant you any wish he wanted.
Maybe that’s one reason why I’ve always been a dreamer. What was it Kenny Rogers sang? Don’t fall in love with a dreamer; I’m sure my wife could tell you why because she’s a better person than me. Maybe Kenny spent too much time wondering what was over the rainbow as well.
What really is over there? Metaphorically speaking, there’s that pot of gold and all those wishes come true. But if you want to learn what’s really over the rainbow, re-read today’s verses. In fact, read all of Scripture at least once through. The Good Book is God’s love letter to people He cherishes, as well as His instruction manual for life, and the way He imparts His love into our lives. It is the answer to what lies over the rainbow as well. Scripture tells how we all await the same fate of death and judgment. He really does have the whole world in His hands, something on which I reflected months ago in a similar blog. He has the world in His hands and He knows exactly how it will go. Somewhere over the rainbow is peace: real, eternal, lasting, divine peace that we get to share with Him who is that peace.
But be advised: read ahead to verse 3, which talks about how things in-between now and then may not all be biscuits & gravy. God allows evil in the world so that we may learn of His radiant glory. He allows us knowledge, free choice, and lives of humanity so that we might learn of His love and what His love has in store for us. When we reject that, is it any surprise that He would allow us to experience evil? If we reject one, don’t we accept the other? Even if we don’t choose evil, we actually do if we reject the love God truly intends for us. By the time we realize “this isn’t what I signed up for,” it’s too late. Evil lurks everywhere in the world and it’s waiting to use you and I as pawns in a millennial game of chess that evil is destined to lose.
Destined to lose, that is, whether or not we cross the rainbow before. I’m reading a book on the end times and while I find it interesting, I also finding myself not caring much about it. I know how the end turns out, I know Christ is victorious. The details of how, when and where He comes back don’t matter as much to me as the fact that He will indeed be coming back. A rapture, a great tribulation, a final battle outside Jerusalem, a millennial kingdom? Sure, if you think so. To me, it’s all minutiae. I find that knowing those specifics ahead of time doesn’t matter much. The point of them is to point us to Him here and now, not when the end comes and it’s too late. Live in Him here and now, in what we do here today, not just in someone’s prediction of how the world will come to its end.
Call me presumptuous, but I think that’s what the verses today are also saying. The fate of each of us is death, and it’s a death due for the fact we’ve each chosen sin at some point. The point of the verses is to remind us that God Himself also offers each of us eternal salvation that renders those sins moot. One day, some day, He will indeed finally defeat evil and all the sins we’ve ever let rule our lives. He paid for them, He eliminated them, He made them go away.
He made it possible to one day see what lies somewhere over the rainbow.