Labor Day weekend we took a trip to Florida to visit my mother-in-law who was in the hospital. It was not a sight-seeing trip, however we did take a lunch break and headed to St Pete Pier. The clouds over the water were just incredible! Then on the drive home through South Georgia, once again the clouds were declaring God’s praise in all their glory.
I was reminded of some of the uses of the word “cloud” from Scripture and how God used His creation to draw a word picture to teach a lesson or reveal more of His character to His people:
Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Exodus 24:15-16
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Exodus 34:5-6
Do you know how God directs His clouds or makes their lightning flash? Do you understand how the clouds float, those wonderful works of Him who has perfect knowledge? Job 35:15-16
For Your faithful love is as high as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens; let Your glory be over the whole earth. Psalm 57:10
Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. Exalt Him who rides on the clouds — His name is Yahweh — and rejoice before Him. Psalm 68:4
I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth. Save with Your right hand and answer me so that those You love may be rescued. Psalm 108:4-6
After a stop in Atlanta to drop off our traveling friends, we headed down I-20 for the final stretch home. As the sun was setting, there was this one, enormous cloud that seemed to beckon for us to follow. I know these pictures (iphone) are not the best, nor do they adequately convey the grandeur and enormity of this cloud as it seemed to stretch across the entire expressway, east to west and north to south.
As I sat in awe staring at this great cloud before us, I couldn’t help but think of Exodus where God used a cloud by day to guide His people through the wilderness.
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22
They had no idea where they were headed. They had never before travelled this road. God had called them to live by faith, totally dependent upon Him. And He did not depart from before His people! If you know the story, they failed Him over and over again. And they all suffered the consequences of their unbelief by never entering the Promised Land God had prepared for them. All but for two, Joshua and Caleb. These two remained faithful, took God at His Word, and believed who He was and what He had promised, and for them reward was great and God’s presence went with them.
I thought, how large was this cloud that led them by day? Was it as large as the one looming before me now? How could they have doubted God, grumbled and complained? But then I remember…I do the same thing. And I know the rest of the story! I know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope, love and grace He brings into my life every single day!
So for me, this cloud was a great reminder. How often do I find myself heading down my own path? Grumbling, complaining and doubting God. Saying I believe God in all things and yet my actions bely this very thought. Faithless, fretting, fearing and frustrated with life’s circumstances instead of gazing at the cloud of God’s presence that is with me always and there to guide me moment by moment.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air:they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘ What shall we eat? ’ or ‘ What shall we drink? ’ or ‘ What shall we wear? ’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
His presence is always with me. He will never leave nor forsake me. He is always there to guide and lead me down the path that He has prepared for me. He has ordained every one of my days and HE is trustworthy and faithful! So, when I am tempted to doubt, fear, and fret, I will look to the clouds and remember that word picture of the cloud representing His presence, His power and His faithfulness!