Christian Living

Spiritual Life

At the Right Time

Why do leaves change their colors in the fall? There are in fact several different reasons, but the most important is the increasing length of night and cooler temperatures at night. Other factors are the amount of rainfall and the overall weather patterns in the preceding months. Just like sunsets, the weather before each fall is different.

Fall Foilage photo by John A. AdamBasically the production of chlorophyll slows and stops in the autumn months, causing the green color of the leaves to disappear, and the colors remaining are mixtures of brown, red, orange and yellow, depending on the types of tree.

To have any real chance of seeing the wonderful fall foliage, you have to go to the right places at the right time. Going to the beach in summer or even the fall won’t do! And going to the Blue Ridge Mountains or New England in the depths of winter will not enable you to see the fall foliage either, pretty though the snow-covered trees may be!

Fall Wooded Path photo by John A. AdamSo, you have to be at the right place at the right time…

How about rainbows? Look up to the sky after a summer shower and if the circumstances are right, there it is. If you are standing with the sun at your back, and it is raining ahead of you, you may be fortunate enough to see a rainbow (or possibly two!), but only if the sun is low enough in the sky. The raindrops scatter the sunlight into your eyes, and separate it into, well, the colors of the rainbow!

Interestingly, each observer sees his or her ‘unique’ rainbow, because a different set of raindrops refracts and reflects the light into the eyes of every person looking at the colored bow in the sky. If it’s raining and the sun is covered by cloud, or the sun is shining but there’s no rain, or the sun is too high in the sky even if it is raining, no rainbow will be seen.

Again, you have to be at the right place at the right time…

There is another beautiful sight frequently visible (but not often noticed!) from airplane windows. It is called a “glory”, but it is familiar to many mountaineers and hill-climbers. If they stand with their backs to the low-lying sun and look into a thick mist below them, they may sometimes see a set of colored circular rings surrounding the shadow of their heads. Other sightings have been made from balloons.

Nowadays, while not noted as frequently as the rainbow, it may be seen most commonly from the air, with the glory surrounding the shadow of the airplane. Once an observer has seen the glory, if looked for, it is readily found on many subsequent flights, provided you are on the shadow side of the aircraft!

So again, being in the right place at the right time is the key to seeing this most beautiful sight…

The Bible uses this phrase “At the right time…” in several places. Here are three of them:

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman… (Galatians 4:4, NLT)

At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own. It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person. But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8, NIRV)

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2, NLT)

Perhaps we asked the Lord into our lives and hearts years ago, months ago, but if that is not the case, nevertheless, we are always in the right place to do so, and now is just the right time, either to renew our commitment to Him, or to invite Him into our hearts as Savior and Lord, if we have never done so before.

Postscript: No one doubts the existence of a rainbow. Look up to the sky after a summer shower and if the circumstances are right, there it is. But what exactly is a rainbow? The rainbow is at one and the same time one of the most beautiful visual displays in nature, and yet, like a shadow, is an intangible phenomenon. It is not, of course, a solid arch; but like mirages, it is nonetheless real, and is not an optical illusion!

The rainbow is real, but does not exist anywhere in our space (technically, it is an image at infinity!). And because it is real, it can be seen and photographed, and described in mathematical terms, but it cannot be located at a specific place (unlike the raindrops causing it), only in a particular direction. It is a colored mosaic image of the sun, located at infinity, for no matter how near or far away you are from the drops producing it, the apparent size remains the same. You cannot “back up” to get more of the rainbow in your camera viewfinder!

My friend, Skip Moen, commenting on Hebrews 11:1 says “‘The substance of things not seen’ - sounds like a rainbow, doesn't it? I ‘see’ it, but it's not really ‘there’, in the place where I see it. And what I see is not what you see, although we both see the same thing. God's sign of His covenant with the earth is unique to every observer.

Not even the most adamant atheist would deny the existence of a rainbow. Yet everyone admits that rainbows are real, but not really tangible. Perhaps God left us this sign not simply as a covenant marker but as a reminder that faith is often just like a rainbow. It is the evidence of something that lies beyond us.”

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