Into the Cloud

Into the Cloud Cloud and Mountain - Single Mom SmilingDid you ever get the feeling you had a black cloud hanging over you, like nothing is going right? Maybe you’ve felt like you’re in such a  deep hole, nothing ever will go right, that no matter what you do, you’re trapped in the shadows, that storms were sent specifically to rock your boat, that every move you make brings you farther from safe shores and threatens to capsize you, pulling you down until you’ve sunk too far to rise again.

I know that feeling. It certainly seemed a black cloud followed us for several months after my husband left. There were the every-divorce-case stresses of dividing up our things, meeting with lawyers, bills I couldn’t pay – “normal” stuff…if you follow modern culture’s call to “normalize” divorce, but there were other things too.

Crazy things happened with no explanation! Not only did my husband leave, but two of my sons had to be rushed to the emergency room for freak accidents in the weeks surrounding his departure. One climbed (and fell off!) a chain link fence during a Little League game I was coaching cutting his face and mouth. I saw the him do it but couldn’t reach him in time to stop him.

My other son, in a totally random accident, was hit on the head by a 40 pound bar which fell from the high ceilinged stage of his elementary school. The term terrifying doesn’t cover that phone call!

So many things went wrong in the days immediately following my husband’s sudden departure and in the years that followed. My teaching license had expired, and I had a hard time updating it and finding a job. Child support wasn’t being paid and our house went into foreclosure. The same son who had fallen off the fence got a severe case of Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP)  and showed symptoms which included bruising, swelling, exhaustion, illness, blood in his urine…so many difficulties for about two years. Thank the Lord he is fine now!

I could go on, but the point is…I couldn’t believe God was letting all this happen! Didn’t He know what we were dealing with in with the loss of the man we loved so much? What was God thinking to allow more junk to be heaped on top of us?

The cloud followed, and many days I thought the storm would never let up. I couldn’t imagine what God was doing or why! I couldn’t see a reason for our suffering or why we had to go through it. I had come to terms with my ex’s use of free will to tear apart what we had been given, but how could God let so many other things happen? Free will didn’t make a 40 pound bar fall off a ceiling and strike a child on the head!

To this day, I can’t figure out why most “stuff” happened. I still shudder thinking back on some of it, but I do know a few things that I wouldn’t have known before.

Those events, which were so devastating, led to a thorough realization of how fragile life is, how totally out of control we are, and how we can’t live a life planned for ourselves.

It’s been said, “Man plans. God laughs.” I don’t believe this is true, but I do believe that when we forget our plans need to follow God’s pathways, God reshapes our landscape.

He allows dark clouds in our lives, not to bring us pain, but to draw us closer to Him. God looks down from above and sees things we do not. He knows what lies ahead when we can’t see around the next bend. He knows that whatever it is, it is worse than the landslides He allows to block our paths and redirect our lives.

The Cloud on the Mountain

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus goes to the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James with him. On that mountain, Jesus is changed physically allowing these special Men to glimpse the purity of God, but the Apostles are understandably confused, not realizing Jesus is special even beyond Moses and Elijah.

They do their best to follow God but are uncertain about what is going on and who is who. They know the names of those on the mountain but misunderstand each Man’s purpose. Their loyalty is confused and they assume appreciation can be split between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Peter suggests erecting a temple for each.

Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.

Peter hadn’t even finished speaking when a cloud came and cast a shadow over them. Imagine the fear these Men must have felt. It’s easy for us to look back in hindsight and know what happens, but up there, high on a mountain, away from family and friends, assuming they had no weapons to defend themselves and little chance to escape, the Friend that they had only known a short while suddenly transforms when two dead guys appear and begin to speak with Him.

Then the cloud cast a shadow over them. It must have rained pretty heavily in some of Jesus’ days, but seldom in the New Testament, do we hear of clouds or rain or even storms. Since this cloud is mentioned, it must have been one mighty cloud with one dark shadow cast over the Men!

And yet, the cloud never encompassed the Men. God didn’t force His way into their lives. He didn’t allow the darkness to overtake them. He pushed them right to the edge perhaps, but, just as when Jesus awoke to calm the seas on the boat, the cloud was never allowed to overtake them completely.

While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.

What did happen? The Men recognized they would need to enter the cloud to make it to clearer skies and greater understanding. They cast aside fear that must have been very great and very real and they chose Trust. They could not see what lay ahead. They could not call on anyone else for help. They could not defend themselves from whatever it was in the cloud.

They could have run and hid. They could have fought the shadow, swinging blindly in the darkness. They could have done any number of things, but instead, they entered the cloud and it was there life changed.

Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

It was in the darkness that they heard the voice of God and understood Jesus to be who He was.

It’s hard to be grateful for the clouds or the resultant landslides when you’re afraid and standing in the middle of the storm. That’s okay. Your Father understands your fear, but He calls you to trust Him and enter the cloud anyway.

Life brings clouds and shadows. We run and hide from some. We fight and curse others, but when we enter into the clouds with Faith in the Lord and Trust Him to speak to us in the darkness, we come out of the storm changed. It is upon entering the cloud that you see the Son is always shining!

God Bless…

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