Yesterday, the bright sunlight beat down on the South, leading to record-setting heat. There were few words to describe the atmosphere in Tennessee other than “oppressive.” Even at 9:00 p.m., long after the sun had set, its searing heat left a scorching 90 degree temperature.
Today, on the other hand, the sun was filtered by the clouds. The bright blue sky was cast in shades of gray, which filtered down to a humid blanket that laid over the landscape. The temperature was almost ten degrees cooler, as the radiant heat dissipated in the sifted sunlight. The clouds mercifully spared us from the sun we did not need!
While today the clouds seemed like a source of refreshment, clouds often don’t conjure such pleasant images. Clouds have long symbolized doubt, uncertainty, confusion. They suggest that storms are ahead, that darkness lingers nearby. But Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest reminds us that clouds have a distinct role in the spiritual realm.
“In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. . . It is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. . . They are a sign that God is there. God cannot come near us without clouds— He does not come in clear-shining brightness.”
Experiencing God is not the absence of clouds. He is within the clouds, and they are an indication of His presence. I believe that His presence is often most profoundly felt in the times when clouds surround us. We find the true definition of our faith in times when everything else is clouded with uncertainty — our relationships, our work, our health, our finances.
In those times, the clouds sequester us away from the things on which we have inappropriately become dependant. They hide us, not from Him, but with Him from all that would vie for our attention.
“It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows.”
I often want to run from the clouds in life, to pray for shelter against them, to avoid them at all costs. But perhaps the clouds in life are the very vapor of God’s sparing us from that which we do not need — anything else but Him.
Maybe the clouds really are refreshing after all.