Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's About the Clouds

PREFACE: This is an unusually lengthy post. I have allowed myself to be wordy for a reason, so you may want to sit this one out. Besides, it is at times like this that I remember why it is that I blog, and for Whom.


"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, O Lord."
Psalm 19:14

In Arizona, the connotation assocated with weather is decidedly warm. Ok, let's say hot. We all know that skies there are perpetually blue. That well-established fact is the fuel that sparked our initial interest in relocating there 10+ years ago.
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By comparison, anyone familiar with Washington State knows that it's connotation is the exact opposite. Gray is the predominant feature linked to Northwestern skies.
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So ... and therefore ... there was little (dare I say "no"?) hesitation on our parts when it came to the decision to move to Arizona. The fuel of blue burst into open flames as we made our way. We rooted quickly.
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Upon deciding to move from Arizona, and to return to Washington State last March, the over-riding concern I had at the time was how on God's green earth I was ever going to handle the intermittable gray. Fogs and mists, not to mention drizzles and downpours seemed unrelenting obstacles.
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Then I discovered a promise that put the bothersome thoughts on an altogether different track ...
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Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere ...
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For the LORD God IS a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
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O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Psalm 84:10-12
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It's a familiar refrain, isn't it? I mean, who among us wouldn't want to live one day in His courts versus a thousand elsewhere? Unless, of course, those courts exists beneath gray skies.
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At least that's what I thought until I really got grip on this quite extraordinary, exceedingly exquisite promise:
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... He is a sun ... to those whose walk
(even in galoshes) is blameless.

It's been nearly two months since our Arizona exodus, and for the duration I've held onto that promise, knowing the dark days of Fall would soon be upon us.

Oh ... there's been plenty of sun and blue skies; and for sure there is hardly a place under heaven as verdant as the Pacific Northwest. But there's also been plenty of mists & showers which, as we Washingtonians know, is the prescription for that verdantness.

It's all conspired to make me question; make me wonder if - or when - sadness would blanket me like the mists that blanket the earth here. Afterall, I'm no stranger to this place, having been raised & raised here; and having lived here 52 of my 62 years.
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I well recall the days of yore when the little light felt ever-so-much like depression. I have a good memory.
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So it is that I'm inclined to ask: Lord, exactly how is it You ARE (versus, "will be") a sun to me?
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Sometimes that question dangles in the silence. At other times it's met with a sense of peace and comfort; a knowing that all is well with my soul. I am relieved - again - to know that I just don't know everything, much less understand what I do know.
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I also know that tieing my experience to memories is a flawed endeavor. New things happen every moment of every day; beneath blue skies AND gray!
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A few days ago the following scripture began to meander through my thoughts:
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He spread out a cloud as a covering,
and a fire to give light at night.
Psalm 105:39
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The Psalm is associated with that timeless sage of God's deliverance of His people from their cruel existence (as thraldoms) in Egypt. A prominant feature of that deliverance was the cloud God used to lead, as well as to protect His people; while simultaneously using it to baffle His/their enemies.
A cloud.
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This week I received a regular e-news update via Arutz Sheva News out of Jerusalem. The featured headline gave me goosebumps. It reads: Sukkot: 'Clouds of Glory' In the article that follows we are told, in part:

Also on this holiday (Sukkot) Jews eat all their meals in temporary booths ... open enough to be able to view the stars above.
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Men sleep in these structures as well,
to commemorate the
“clouds of glory” that surrounded and protected our ancestors from the harsh desert conditions as we traveled to the Land of Israel after fleeing from Egypt.

Clouds of glory!

By now my CSI instincts have kicked in; and I simply must have more details about this silver lining associated with cloudy skies.

My sleuthing has lead me in many directions; and to many days of related thought. I found the following collection by Alfred H. Joy particularly helpful:

Rain Clouds - Figurative Uses

1. (God's) Presence and Glory:
In the Old Testament, (God's) presence is made manifest and His glory shown forth in a cloud. The cloud is usually spoken of as bright and shining, and it could not be fathomed by man.

...In the New Testament we often have "the Son of man coming on" or "with clouds"

2. Pillar of Cloud:
The pillar of cloud was a symbol of God's guidance and presence to the children of Israel in their journeys to the promised land.

3. Bow in Cloud:
The clouds are spoken of in the Old Testament as the symbol of God's presence and care over His people; and so the "bow in the cloud" is a sign of God's protection.

4. Clouds Blot Out:
As the black cloud covers the sky and blots out the sun from sight, so promises "to blot out the sins" of Israel

5. Transitory:
There is usually a wide difference in temperature between day and night in Israel. The days are warm and clouds coming from the sea are often completely dissolved in the warm atmosphere over the land. ... Job compares the passing of his prosperity to the passing clouds.

6. God's Omnipotence and Man's Ignorance:
God "bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds" and the "clouds are the dust of his feet". (God) "commands the clouds that they rain no rain", but as for man, "who can number the clouds?"; "Can any understand the spreadings of the clouds?" "Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?".

"He that regards the clouds shall not reap", for it is God who controls the clouds and man cannot fathom His wisdom.

7. Visions:
Clouds are the central figure in many visions. Ezekiel beheld "a stormy wind .... out of the north, a great cloud", and John saw "a white cloud; and on the cloud one sitting".

8. The Terrible and Unpleasant:
The cloud is also the symbol of the terrible and of destruction. The day of God's reckoning is called the "day of clouds" and a day of "clouds and thick darkness". Joel foretells the coming of locusts as "a day of clouds and thick darkness" which is both literal and figurative. Misfortune and old age are compared to "the cloudy and dark day" and "the clouds returning after rain".

9. Various Other Figures:

  • Rapidity of motion
  • Swaddling clothes of the newborn earth
  • Indicating great height
  • Hidden glory (Lev 16:2; Acts 1:9; Rev 1:7).

It is obvious by now that there's more to clouds & mists than meets the eye (or the umbrella). So I close this post with a bit of awe still brewing just beneath my conscious thought. I am no longer daunted by what might be in the dark & misty days ahead because I am now excited for what will be as a result of them.

For the Lord God is a sun ...

20 comments:

Grace on the Narrow Path said...

God bless you my friend. Wow!!! This post is so power-filled . . . thank you. God dwells within us and within all that surrounds us. Well said my friend. Praise God.
Blessings,
Bren

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

Amen and blessings Kathleen.

Some heavy duty doses of Vitamin D will help too. ;-)

Debbie said...

Kathleen, I guess I added my comment too early to this post. I'm glad I came back though to read it in its entirety.

Arizona is a place of sunny days and ...hot ones. I long for a day or two of rain showers. But I guess it would be different if it happened all the time.

God is your SONshine, no matter what the climate is like. I know that He called you and Terry back to your home state for a reason. He has a purpose in it and I know that you already know that. I'm preaching to the choir, right?

I love you and miss you. My sassy friend is now only a phone call away. However, I learned an important lesson the other day. My cell phone bill was $278! Can you believe it? It's usually about $30. What a shock when I realized I used too many minutes on my recent trip to FL for the wedding. So now it's unlimited nights and weekends only. I hope you're sometimes available on weekends. Oh but now I realize that you still have a local cell number. YAY!!!!

Love you,
Debbie

Sonja said...

my bottom line on this wonderful, thoughtful post is that GOD IS WITH ME, in Arizona, Washington, and yes... even in Texas!! He will use any and all of it for my good. Amen?? :)

Patrina's Pencil said...

It appears you are a bit like me in your need to understand and know more. It always helps me see things more clearly.

I was particularly interested in the Jewish Holiday 'Sukkot" - and eating their meals in a open booth to view the stars. This 'knowledge' gave me goosebumps. It is referencing a vivid interactive dream I had in 2007 in an open booth without a roof and the stars danced above my head - taking on different forms and ....oh it is just too much. I am pondering this with much anticipation. More to research now. I can hardly wait to see what I shall find. Thank you for this revelatory piece of info.

I sense a level of growth is about to fall on you. The Lord moved you back for His reasons - this is for certain. It is exciting times, isn't it?

God bless you in your new 'experiences'...may they be more than you could imagine.

Patrina <")>><

Shirley said...

Indeed He is! I've had clouds on my mind this week...the clouds that led the children of Israel by day and the pillar of fire that led them by night. I have not sat down to study that, but have meant to all week.

As for me, I am a rain lover. One of the most beautiful sounds I know is the sound of rain pelting against a window pane. It soothes me. It actually energizes my creativity. I want to go grab a mug of hot coffee and just sit by the window and watch, listen, meditate, and day dream.

We have had such a long, long, hot and dry summer. I yearn for a long, gentle, window-pelting rain!!!

But I never said I was normal, did I!!!

Karen Lange said...

Wonderful! Will think of cloudy skies in a whole new way. Love that passage in Psalm 84. Glad you shared this.
Blessings to you and your readers,
Karen

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

a wonderful and power filled post...glad that I stopped by...

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Thank you for this wonderful teaching today! I've learned so much and your post makes me want to learn more!

Praying you are blessed always!

Merana Leigh said...

There are several things about this post that I absolutely love. #1 - the fact that you took the time to say what God put on your heart to share with us...no matter how long!
#2 - the message you deliver...your vulnerability to what you don't particularly "like", the clouds, while being obedient to do as He asks
#3 - I simply LOVE a cloudy/rainy day...altho' I imagine after a LOT of it, I would tire of it as well. The pix that you use is something my younger son call's God's Eye...'see Mom, He's looking down on us through the clouds' (since God is light!)...so precious!
#4 - Joel Osteen once told a story years ago about how it was raining for days & he was going on a trip & looking out the airline window at the dreariness. But once they rose about the clouds, the brilliance of the sun shone so brightly, it was almost blinding in comparison. And then he realized, just because there were clouds of darkness burdening the earth, the same sun shone above those clouds...just as the same Son shines above the darkness in our lives. He doesn't change. He is STILL always there. And the clouds will eventually clear! Powerful message!!!
#5 - it reminded me also of this post, from a phenomenal blogger, who always enlightens!
http://alonganarrowway.blogspot.com/2010/08/in-shadow-of-grace.html

Thank you for sharing this message & your heart! So glad to have found you, Kathleen. I look forward to many more of your heartfelt sharings!

Hugs ~ Merana

Heart2Heart said...

Kathleen,

What a pleasure to come here on Sunday morning for my visit. I found it refreshing and insightful in the variety of meanings behind the clouds that some people see as negative instead of the positive things you have captured here. I for one am a lover of things grey and gloomy, raining and misting. Perhaps its been that most of my days are the opposite of yours being in the hot, dry climate and perhaps its time for a change.

Thanks for allowing me to see things in an entirely different way.


Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Sandy said...

God is with all of us wherever
we are. I love what sweet Debbie
said--He is our SONshine! This
was such a good and uplifting
word. Thank you. I like your
blog!
Blessings,
Sandy

Gwendolyn said...

Even through the clouds, or especially through the clouds, we see the splendor of His glory. A cloudy-night sunset difuses the incredible color of the sun! His glory, revealed through our suffering and inadequacy. It is His way...now we see through a glass darkly...but then...face to face!!! What a day THAT will be!

Tammy@If Meadows Speak... said...

Aaahh, you gave me food for thought. I hadn't ever compiled the usage and ways of how clouds were a part of scripture. Looking at them from a mulifaceted pile, it made me too think of them differently (from 1-9 list). Hmmmm....

Terri Tiffany said...

I want to say Amen and how I love that you dig for answers the way you do.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

I have been saving this to read because I knew it would bring me lot to think of...thanks again...I always leaving asking God to plant the words deep into my heart!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I join you in the search, up above, for what is going to soon break through on the other side. I rather like the thought of God's protecting clouds hovering near me, as a sun and a shield--glimpses of glory, covering the same.

Beautiful thoughts to close my night with...

I'll sleep beneath the stars tonight... I'd certainly hate to miss something grand.

peace~elaine

Diana said...

Awesome post. I am so glad God has no boundaries.

Some words in a song popped in my head....."when the clouds roll back and the Lord shall descend....."

Debbie said...

Oh how I loved this. EVERY little word, haha...didn't find it too long at all. In fact I am going to read it AGAIN and let every thought sink in. Have a wonderful week. HUGS, Debbie

Beverlydru said...

Here's the comment window! Found it buried under other open windows on my computer... and here I thought I couldn't leave a comment. Love your thoughts on the clouds. Much to ponder. Love and blessings to you.