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Clouds


It is true that often the more we see the things around us, even near us, the more invisible they become to us. Even beautiful and wonderful things of creation - the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds, even the ones we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. How many times do we have to look up before we see the sky? It's good that God is so patient and longsuffering with us, given how we neglect the signs and wonders of His amazing grace and provisions every day. We surely would have no sense of spiritual direction apart from His leading. The hard part though is that we have to have our head bumped before we can think, to be crippled before we can walk and to have our hearts broken before we can love. When our pockets are full, our hearts are empty and we forget God; but, when our pockets are empty our hearts are full and we worship and pray.

Clouds are important to God and I believe we'd be better off noticing them more each day. God doesn't just put the gospel in the scriptures, but also in the trees, the flowers, and the clouds and stars.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Psalm 19:1

Do you remember as a child lying on the ground and watching the clouds float by? There is much peace and rest in just watching the clouds. I see clouds floating above me as I write this letter as I look out of my office window here in Arcola. White clouds, big and fluffy and various shapes, all against the backdrop of a deep blue sky reminds me of God's faithfulness. Actually I don't think a person can look at the clouds on a sunny day and think about his or her problems at the same time. And there surely doesn't seem to be any architectural rules for cloud designs in the sky. Our family has a remedy for interstate road glaze syndrome - cloud watching! We have turned automobile monotony into traveling adventure by imagining clouds to be lions, kangaroos, waterfalls, and eagles, etc. Really, clouds are not so bad when you are with people you love and, it's good to know that the sky and the sun are always there. It's the clouds that come and go. You and I would be pretty accurate weather forecasters by calling for partly cloudy skies! It seems there are always some clouds on the horizon to remind us that this world is not our final home.

J.K. Alwood"s hymn, "The Unclouded Day," is a beloved song for weary pilgrims like us on earth. The chorus says:
         "O the land of cloudless day,
          O the land of an unclouded sky,
          O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
          O they tell me of an unclouded day."

While there is surely a cloudless day coming for us in heaven, let us enjoy the clouds while we're here on earth. Even though we may not understand, nor ever want to see them, we must remember that God made the clouds and nothing God ever made (which are all things) is useless. Fall is the best season for cloud watching. Even though the beautiful foliage on the oaks, poplar, and maples may steal the show at first, when they are gone we will see the clouds. God may even shake some leaves of prosperity and pleasure off our tree. When He does, we will see the clouds.


Clouds point us in the right direction - up.

"Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2

Rather than looking at others, ourselves or our circumstances, we should look at the clouds. In a way, clouds symbolize the veils that hide God. When God led His people, Israel, through the wilderness, He directed them by a cloud during the day. If the cloud moved, then Israel was to move, if the cloud stayed, Israel was to stay put. Just imagine, every day the excitement after collecting the manna was looking for the cloud. To know that God is above us and is in control of all things is so comforting. God controls every cloud in the sky and He controls every cloud in our lives as well. Now, we cannot control the direction a cloud is floating, nor its shape or color, but God can.

When I was maybe eight or ten years old, I remember spending some summer days at my grandmother's house. I can still hear the screen door on my grand-motherís porch slam as she came out of the kitchen and called us inside by saying, "Children, come in the house now, it's coming up a cloud!" We all would stop our playing and go into the house where she insisted that we sit in a room in the middle of the house, with all the lights off, no T.V., and of course, no talking. Her instructions were to the point and to focus us on something above. "Be real still and quiet," she would say. "God is doing His work!" Sitting there in the darkness, listening to the thunder and lightening made an eight year old realize that God is greater than any game I could play and nothing else really mattered until His work was finished anyway.


There are times in our lives when a cloud comes up, we need to stop what weíre doing, quieten ourselves, be still and get our sense of direction. Every cloud in our lives has a purpose and is from God. Yes, God is still leading us through the wilderness by a cloud. Sometimes God sends a heavy cloud which makes for heavy hearts. The best way to deal with these heavy dark clouds is to let it rain. Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky are best relieved by the letting of a little water. One of the most comforting moments of my recent airplane flight to Israel was getting above the clouds. Once the plane climbed above the clouds, I didn't notice how high we were. The sky was bluer and brighter above the clouds too!


The best way for Christians to carry on in this world is to acknowledge that everything is about God. In Him we live and move and have our being. We breathe His air. He even starts and ends our very heartbeat. Clouds are about God because God is in the clouds. On Mount Sinai, God gave the tablets of the law to Moses in a cloud on the mountain. In the Old Testament, God's glory was manifested in a cloud. And in the New Testament, we find that Jesus' transfiguration, His ascension and His return all happened or will happen on cloudy days.


However, the greatest reason clouds are divine is that clouds are promises of God's presence. Once, during a severe drought in Israel, Elijah declared a cloud to be a sure promise of God sending rain to a drought stricken parched land.

"And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not." I Kings 18:44

Since we won't really have any uncloudy days until we get to heaven, we need to be reminded that our God is in the clouds. Seems like there is a cloud coming up almost all the time, but with that cloud, there is God! Clouds are about God because they are from God. And, we should not let the clouds keep us from working in the kingdom of God. For sure, we can always find an excuse for not obeying God. Every light for the believer though is not always going to be green. Likewise, every day is not going to be clear and free of clouds. Even our minds can be like a cloudy sky, with overcast doubts and delusions. Knowing that God is in the clouds is how our faith takes facts and sweeps away cloudy thinking. Don;t wait until everything gets just right! (Itís not going to happen.) Rather, go ahead as God leads you with His cloud. I think a lot of us miss a lot of blessings and can become downright lazy because we see the clouds, but forget that they are about God.

"He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4

A few days ago, Penny and I were driving to Statesboro along highway 80 and noticed a beautiful sunset with a particularly radiant golden glow. There was a large cloud right over the setting sun. We both said almost simultaneously, "There surely is a silver lining in every cloud." Every cloud, every problem you and I face has a silver lining. Thatís because with that problem, that difficulty, that pain, God is refining and taking away the dross and put on of our fake lives so that the real "son" glow manifests God's presence in that situation. So remember when a cloud comes into your life, it may not be to carry rain or a storm, but to add color to your sunset.


The allusions to clouds in scripture, as well as their use in symbolical language, can only be understood when we remember the nature of the climate during Bible times, where there was hardly a trace of clouds from the beginning of May until the close of September. During that era, clouds really stood out because they were weighty with divine implications. Every cloud should remind us that God is able. Nothing is too hard for God! The truth is that Jesus is coming again to this earth not as a baby in a manger, nor a Saviour on a cross, but as a glorified, reigning, King of Kings; and, He is coming back on a cloudy day!

"And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." Luke 21:27

The trials and setbacks, the hurts and failures of the Christian's life are like clouds which prove that God is able. It's not our power or effort that delivers, it's God's cloud power! We must never forget that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. One great attribute of our Lord and of which we must be conformed is unconditional love. Tell me then, how in the world can we be shown unconditional love if all our conditions are met? No, God is not going to live off of fairy tales and fair skies. He is going to send a cloud to prove His promise that He will finish what He started. God did not put a rainbow in a clear blue sky. He put it in a cloud!


"And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud." Genesis 9:14

I once visited a friend of mine and his wife in a hospital in Savannah. My friend's wife had suddenly taken ill and was in a crisis situation, a matter of life and death. When I entered the hospital room, my friend promptly escorted me to a large window at the end of the hallway adjacent to the room where his wife was a patient. He pointed to the sky and told me that earlier that morning, while the doctors were in the room trying to determine the next move for his beloved spouse, he walked to that window, looked out and saw a very dark, haunting and stormy cloud. "While I looked at that cloud," he said, "all of a sudden right in the middle of it, I saw a light, then more light, a patch of blue, and suddenly it was a clear sky. That was a sign from God that my wife was going to be ok." My friend acknowledged they had a storm for sure, but from there on, and even more evident now is the sure fact that God is able. Sometimes it takes a cloud to make us praise our God out loud!

Brother Randy


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