I Kings 18:43-44 (NLT)
Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”
During our son’s bone marrow transplant, I lived in the hospital with him. There was a fold out couch in his room and so there would be days on end that I never left the facility caring for him. I would not have been anywhere else. However, at one point, when he was sleeping most of the time and interaction with the world seemed limited, the four walls of our room seemed to close in around me. I was not confined as he was but felt imprisoned. Finally as if a new notion that I had never thought of before I decided to venture outside for some fresh air. As I took to the stairway my decent became more rapid and before I knew it I was running down the stairs headed for the nearest door. The air in my chest constricted as my heart beat rapidly gave me the sensation of a diver coming up for air. When the door flew open, I could feel the world around me. No longer was it stifling or restrictive but I felt free at last. The sun was not shining but the sky overcast filled with clouds. It didn’t matter. In that moment, I felt alive so I plopped on a bench, closed my eyes tilting my head to the sky and began to bask in the fresh open air. The truth is that I was not held prisoner in this facility and that I could leave at any time. There was not requirement that I stay at our son’s bedside other than love.
What holds you captive today? If only in our thoughts or imagination, there are days when this thing called faith appears at bit constricting and hope seems so very far away. How do we cope? Is it real or perceived? Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We can live any way that we choose to live. We can believe what we want to believe. The grace provided by Jesus Christ allows us to live without the rules and regulation but dominated only by love. Sometimes we forget or at least I do. Love is a choice. Serving Jesus is our privilege and right but not a requirement. My relationship to Christ should never be a burden or taxing but always promote freedom and possibility. Sometimes we just to get our head in the clouds to see where He is and what He is doing.
Genesis 9:12-16 (NLT)
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”
Three years before as I was driving over for our first official cancer visit, I did not know what to expect. I now had the role of mother of a cancer patient. Who knew? I never expected to be thrust into such a position. How could I? I loved the Lord. I serve Him with my life. I am dependent on His Promises and try to live by faith not by sight. So how could it even be possible that our son was close to death? By the time the cancer was discovered, it was moving into Stage 4 and spreading in his body. I knew that God had spoken. Our son was to live and not die. But God, this was going to be a tough one. As I drove the two-hour commute that would become so familiar it was an overcast day with patches of rain along the way. How fitting I thought as it rained outside, I was raining on the inside. Afraid to cry because I might not ever stop I rode in the same numbing shock that I lived in for ten days ever since we found out. The craziest thing happened as I traveled along the interstate. I kept seeing rainbows. Now I know that from time to time you will see more than one along your way on a rainy day. I have even seen some double rainbows but to see that many in one day is something that I had never experienced before or since that day. Even when I switched from I-10 headed east to I-75 headed south – they just kept popping up. Was it God? Was He trying to remind me of His Promise that day? I believe that He was.
When Noah and his family exited the ark they immediately made a sacrifice before the Lord. God found pleasure in the aroma of their worship and promised never to flood the earth again. He promised that rainbows would be evidence and a reminder of this promise. It would be His Eternal Covenant. Oh, that we fully comprehended the meaning of His Promise to love us. We would stop worrying about all the rainclouds and begin looking for the rainbows.
Zechariah 10:1 (NLT)
Ask the Lord for rain in the spring for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture.
Who asks for rain? Those in a season of drought who might need it do. We are in the beginning of spring here in the south. Pollen is public enemy number one. The rain washes away the pollen and clears the air. But it also means not enjoying the pleasant weather or swimming so one must choose. But when it comes to a spiritual drought who wants a storm in their life anyway? I was listening to Pandora and heard the old Jesus Culture take on “Let it Rain”. I forgot just how powerful that song really is. It made me think of when I first heard it a long, long time ago before cancer came calling. I used to sing it praying God send the rain into our life. Was I asking for storms to come? Let me put your mind at ease, storms of life come whether we ask for rain or not. Your faith will be challenged and tested at some point so don’t evaluate your words that way. However, what do you do when you see the cloud?
Elijah was praying for rain. He kept sending his servant out to look for it because he knew it would eventually come. When the servant saw a tiny cloud, Elijah was not afraid but sprang into action. What do you do when you see the clouds? Do you run for cover? Grab an umbrella and head on your way? What is your response to thunder and light of the approaching storm? That day in the hospital when I needed to get out, it would not have mattered if the sky was literally falling from the sky I would have sat right there in the rain. When you need the Lord, it doesn’t matter what is going on around you – you are desperate for Him. So when you see the cloud, it is not the storm you see but the coming of the Lord.
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.
This vivid image of God descending is actually David’s account from 2 Samuel 22. The ominous Presence of Almighty God as He comes down to rescue His Children who have cried out calling His Name. It is a fearsome and overwhelming image of a God too big to control and force too strong to be reckoned with. Such an uncontrollable power makes Him seem intimidating in that moment and for those who have not experienced His Great Love will wonder if He comes to rescue or destroy. This is the ferocity of God’s Love for you and I, my friend. His Presence would wreck us completely if not covered in the clouds of life. We must come to Him and embrace Him as we are ready to. I have found that the closer I get to the Lord and the more I desire to know Him the more undone that I am. The weaker I feel. The less I know. It is in this vulnerability that we must learn to press on. Not to fear the storm but know that our Rescuer and Redeemer are well-known by the wind and rain. This storm you may be facing is not to destroy but fulfill God’s Purpose and Plan for our life. He is in the clouds, wind and rain you are facing. We live better when we look for Jesus in the clouds and stop running from the rain.
James 5:17-18 (NLT)
Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
We live in sunshine and rain. It is another promise given to Noah that day. (Genesis 8:22) As long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest. This is not only in the natural but also in the spiritual. To harvest in the natural, you plant you seed and water it with rain. In the spiritual, we must do the same thing. There will be seasons of life when everything seems to be going our way and it is easy to serve the Lord in our surplus. But then there will also be days when we must fight to see past the clouds, winds, and rain of the storm to see the Lord coming to our rescue. We must keep our head in the clouds. Our prayers hold power. We can pray for the rain to stop and do it if we believe. The problem is not too many of us believe in the Power and Presence of God anymore. I have been challenged in the past three years to see the Lord in every situation. I have fought myself and others for what I believe. But what I have found on the other side of many storms is that He is always faithful. God is always fighting for me and found in every storm of life that we have faced. Now we wait for the harvest that is coming. It is not in the ground but in the clouds where our help comes from!
I Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NLT)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.