Clouds cover the truth. Whether they are menacing storm clouds covering the sun and a brilliant blue sky or whether they are clouds of trials and circumstances in our lives that cover our joy; they can block the truth. They give a false appearance of something large, frightening and lasting, but they are usually short lived, their contents spill out quickly and they dissipate. Just as the rain is soaked up and converted to use, so the contents of our trials can be useful when we let God convert them to something good in us.
Clouds gather moisture content and become puffed up. They are billowy but without as much substance as would appear. In Biblical contexts, to be “puffed up” refers to pride. (1 Cor. 5:2, 1 Cor. 8:1) In the animal world, “puffing up” is an instinctive mechanism used to appear larger and more intimidating then is true.
Our trials can seem puffed up, but they will pass and for those of us who turn to God and trust Him in them, they will not be wasted on us. Clouds can block the light and dampen our moods just as our trials can catch us off guard and bring discouragement and worry. But when we focus on the truth behind the trial we can hold on through the dark season of clouds and even find joy there.
Horatio Spafford wrote in “It is Well With My Soul”, ‘And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll!’ Rolling back the clouds of our trials reveals truths from God’s Word and is an important habit as we head for that time in eternity when the clouds will be rolled back to reveal heavenly realms. These realms include God on His throne, angels, a holy city, mansions, streets of gold and an exquisitely set banquet table to name a few. If you rolled back a few clouds in your life circumstances today, what forgotten truths would you remember?
This week I am expressing thanks to God for a new job. Since the last of the seven chicks have now graduated from the Pine Valley Home School “nest”, effectively closing that nearly 30 year chapter of our lives, I decided (with the encouragement of my husband) to seek a secretarial/clerical job, which is what I did right up to three days before my first childbirth. With my “retired business teacher”sister’s help in constructing an appropriate resume, I set out on the quest for a satisfying new venture that might afford us private healthcare and a tad more wiggle room in the budget. About two weeks after dropping resumes here and there, and preparing to follow up on a couple leads, I got a call from someone I go to church with who runs a family business wondering if I would be interested in a secretarial/clerical job. I had not made them aware of my job search, assuming the family members continued to cover those positions. But God had placed the only person at church I had mentioned the job search to in a position to learn otherwise and make some strategic connections.
I am now in my third week of being trained among a sweet multi generation Christian family who continue to grieve and feel the loss, in myriads of practical and emotional ways, of the family patriarch who passed away on Easter Sunday. In fact our entire church family and community keenly feels the loss of this Godly man. It is a remarkable blessing that the endearing family matriarch is brought into the office by one of her lovely granddaughters who is now providing live in care for her. With slow determined steps and a walker this matriarch continues in at least part of the weekday office role she has done for many, many years, despite being nearly swallowed up in grief from her husband’s recent passing. She adds her own unique touch of humor and quickly finds empathetical reasons to defend me in any mistakes I make, making me feel like she would’ve done that same thing, even if I know better. Not that anyone would’ve been critical, mind you.
I know it will be months before I feel confident in some of the tasks I am learning. Meantime, I am thankful for patient people who enjoy chatting and humor interspersed with productive work. I have learned three particularly relevant tidbits: strong magnifiers are a must for zip code directories and phone books, locking the office keys in the office first thing in the morning while stepping out is not wise, and dry wall mud tape is not calculator tape. Shucks, I had unearthed a gargantuan roll of it, too. I wonder if we could make it work?
There are moments when I am weary inside and out and loosen my grip on the promises I stand on. That’s when I use the Three Step Plan – Turn, Believe, Go. It’s all right inside the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. It seems to be the same plan in essence that God spoke to His remnant of people through Haggai and other prophets as they worked on the temple when he told them to be strong (turn), get to work(go) and remember His promises (believe).
First I turn my eyes from troubles toward my Savior through one or more avenues such as worship, Bible and devotional readings, or seeking Godly counsel with someone who cares enough to both exhort and encourage and will take the time to give thoughtful and timely counsel.
Second, I believe. I find what God has said and reposition myself on that truth, or if it’s not clear to me yet, I try to unearth it. This is usually through my Bible, devotional or journal (which has notes of encouragement, exhortation, scripture promises sermon notes, a diary and prayer log). As Oswald Chamber said in the June 5 “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional, “I will remember God’s say-so…like a child ‘bucking himself up’ to reach the standard his father wants.”
Third, I go. That means action. We all have different callings and burdens in various seasons of our life, so action can look entirely different on each of us. Action can just as rightly be toiling over a prayer list in private or faithfully serving in the family as it can be doing the most visible job in a traditional church service or sacrificing time on a mission trip. But, acting allows God’s Spirit and light to flow out in ministry, in addition to being an act of obedience to God.
What a promise we have to know that Jesus life is our light and it can never be extinguished no matter what dark places we go forth with it. Sometimes it may feel like my light is flickering, but since it’s Christ in me, it burns strong. What is your strategy for those weary moments?
There are times I am in circumstances that require me to seek God for the sake of God, not because I have an agenda. This is not because I don’t have an agenda or keep a prayer “wish” list. It’s just because I have no control over my list anyway, so I might as well find warmth, comfort and love from God because He is God, loves me and offers an eternal perspective full of hope. And isn’t that what trust is about anyway? Turning my control (or lack of) over to the only One who really has control and is All Knowing. When I spend time worshiping in this realm, it’s not long before my list becomes secondary to His will and He reveals Himself to me in some intimate, personal and often delightful way.
These expressions of His love to me are very real, though their significance is not always easy to explain to others. Nor is it always easy for others to explain such personal and holy “secrets” or blessings from God. It’s not because they’re not genuine, but because God chooses to extol His extravagant love in an often deeply personal way.
Truthfully, no one can love the way God can. Who else knows the number of hairs on my head? Or exactly how I was formed in the womb, including any “defects” he allows as thorns in the flesh for a greater purpose or assets and gifts He places inside for eventual discovery and selfless use. As Oswald Chambers said in “My Utmost for His Highest”, ‘then we find that God wants to get us into relationship with Himself, to get us in touch with His purposes. Are we so wedded to Jesus Christ’s idea of prayer – “They will be done” – that we catch the secrets of God? The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great big blessings as the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us. He knows every detail of our individual lives.’
Have you laid aside your prayer “wish” list lately and simply pressed into listening for His intimate expressions of love, joy and communication toward you? He has secrets ready to share with His intimate friends.