Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Majestic. Enormous. Foreboding. Floating in space, clouds swaddle the earth and cover our lives in uncertainty. They also bring beauty, framing our life pictures. But more significantly, they remind us of God. In the Bible, clouds are always associated with God's greatness.
Paradoxically, even as they remind us of God's awesome power, they overwhelm us—and we forget the greater goodness of God. In confused moments we often say we feel like we’re "in a cloud." They bring storms that ignite our deepest fears. They also bring shade to relieve us from the greatest exhaustion. And clouds move on, proving that storms may come—but God doesn’t allow them to stay.
Sorrow and suffering may come like a dark, lightning-filled cloud—and God’s presence with it. He comes in the clear blue but more often in the dark mid-day storm clouds of sorrow and suffering. It was by a cloud that God led his stunned and confused people on a wilderness journey. God told Moses that he would come in a dense cloud. When Israel was on the verge of revival the prophet saw a cloud the size of a man's hand become a formation that filled all the seeable heavens. I look at clouds billowing up and outward and I think of how swiftly our God moves from seemingly nothing to fill the entire heavens with His glory.
God mysteriously moves in clouds, it seems the darker the better. It’s not so important that you can tell the difference between cirrus or nimbostratus. It’s only important to remember that clouds are a sign that God is there. In dark clouds the glory of God filled the temple, reminding us that our greatest worship is in our darkest hour.
Cloud formations are forever changing. One moment they may look like your third grade teacher and the next resemble an elephant in a parade. Our immutable God never changes his essence or his character—but his ways, oh, his ways can be quite unpredictable. Like the clouds, we cannot manipulate Him. The seeding of clouds to produce rain has never really worked, neither does baiting God to move in the direction of your will.
Clouds are so daily, just like the grace of God. Each day has trouble of its own, Jesus told us. The skies can be clear in the morning and overrun by a mid-day traffic jam of storms. Yet even in this unpredictable, daily nature of clouds we see the faithful hand of God to rain upon the just as well as the unrighteous. And in the clouds God speaks through the multi-colored arch of the rainbow, a reminder of His promise of holiness, faithfulness and goodness.
At times I look into a cloud and wonder about the great cloud of witnesses watching us run this race of life. I wonder what it will be like when He returns in the clouds. My favorite cloud formation without doubt is when the sun shines through and the shadows form shafts of light that touch the earth—reminding me not only of his return, but also of his daily grace that covers me in radiant light until that day.
There is something about clouds that makes me stop my anxious thinking, my busy moving and my relentless struggling. Looking up, lifting my chin heavenward, I see the clouds and remember that God is the Lord of those massive, majestic, foreboding things, and he is the Lord of me. Because of the dark clouds I can look sunward without being blinded. On a bright day I can remember that there is more than this life. I can stop looking down, lift my head, and hope and dream as I remember that my redemption draws nearer with every breath.
I praise the Lord for clouds.