Trudging into work one day, I felt as run-down as the grey grimy streets I walked on. It was barely sunrise and my body could have greatly used more sleep, but my soul was even more exhausted, worn out by intrapersonal stress and the hard work of ministry. As I dodged trashcans and broken pavement I prayed: “Lord, I have nothing today. It’s all got to be You.” Then I sighed, stopping behind a crowd of people waiting for the light to turn, and looked across the way to see the signal.
The sky above me was brand-new.
As the sun rose, what had been a dull-grey splotch between a three-story gym and a gas station transformed into a pink-peach shell stretching towards a deep blue sky above; clouds like great golden ropes swung like party streamers from heaven to earth. I had never seen clouds that shape and color before, not even in a photo. In that moment, it felt like they had been created just for me. It was more beautiful than any sunset screensaver or sunrise painting, too beautiful to even think of trying to take a picture. Too beautiful to even describe.
I stood on that gross grey grimy corner for as long as I dared, tears filling my eyes and certainty filling my heart: God would give me everything I needed, that day and every day.
When I recounted that experience to a friend later, she shared a “God gave me clouds” story of her own, adding another that our boss had told her. Whether we just happened to be three women who loved clouds or if the town was so horrible God only had clouds to work with, from that moment forward I began to see the clouds above me as more than lumpy water getting in the way of the sun.
The psalmist, looking at the moon and stars, wonders “what is man that you are mindful of him?”—an appropriate response, when faced with the vastness of heaven. But clouds are softer, closer; when the psalmist looks at the clouds he sees them as boundary markers of God’s faithfulness, and pairs them with the steadfast love that fills the heavens. God appeared as a cloud to Israel in the desert and in the Tabernacle. In Job, mastery over clouds is a sign of God’s omnipotence. Hymn writers sing of “clouds which are fountains of mercy and love” and tell us they will “break in blessings upon your head.” And, of course, we are promised Christ will return in power and glory “coming in the clouds”.
In those white-and-fluffy, grey-and-stormy, thin-and-wispy wanderers, we can find reminders of God’s character and promises: He loves steadfastly and faithfully. He is the King enthroned in justice and righteousness. He comes to dwell with his people. He has complete power. He will return in glory to remake creation.
All this truth, waiting for us to notice it almost every day!
Though I no longer live in the gross and grimy town, I still make a habit of noticing the clouds whenever I can. Not only do they remind me of what God told me personally that day, but every time I look at them I am reminded of who He is in Himself.