I’m sitting on the patio of our house, a place I often use for reading the bible, to pray and to work. It is very quiet, the only sounds being those of the nearby creek running full after much rain, some chirping Rainbow Lorikeets and the whisper of a gentle breeze stirring the Gum trees surrounding our property.
I find myself surprised, for I am praising God for something I have never done before. What is surprising? Surprising is the fact that it is a ‘grey day’, no sun but a total overcast, and I normally don’t ‘do’ grey days. This is a hangover from years of living in the tropics when the build up to the Monsoon was characterised by weeks of grey, overcast skies. I used to find this very depressing and this mental reaction to ‘grey’ days has not left me even after many years.
However, this day I find myself praising God for the cloud, for I am reading Numbers and have been reminded of
the significance of‘Cloud’ in the biblical story which so often signifies the presence of, and the action of, God to guide and bless His people
This ‘grey day’ experience has brought to my mind images of cloud – as the chariot of God (Psalm 104; Isaiah 19:1); the presence of God with Moses on Mount Sinai; the cloud of God’s presence in the Messianic Kingdom (Isaiah 4:5); with Jesus at the Transfiguration; Jesus enveloped in cloud at His ascension; and the clouds that bring Jesus return for His people.
The particular ‘Cloud’ that has inspired my praise today though is the cloud of God’s guidance, the cloud that marked God’s presence by day with His people in the Wilderness, the cloud they followed when it moved, and the cloud that caused them to rest when it remained in the one place.
This reminds me that God is our guide through the current spiritual wilderness that characterises western society. It emphasises the fact that, as we seek to develop new (unbounded) forms of church to reach those who are dying in the same wilderness, we must keep our eyes on the ‘Cloud’ and move when He moves, and follow where He wants to lead. Further, the wilderness cloud images reminds us that there were times that the cloud rested for a while. So, we (and this is not a strength of mine) must sometimes patiently wait for God to move again and lead us on the next stage of the journey, not crash ahead in our own strength, in our own direction, and with our own plan. Rather, we must wait on and discern the movement of the ‘Cloud’, and move only when we see Him move.
So yes, I find myself surprised by today’s ‘Grey day’ experience, driven to praise God for the cloud. Well, no, not exactly for the cloud but for the ‘Cloud’, the promise of the presence and guidance of the God as we as His people journey through this 21st century western barren wilderness, this spiritually desiccated desert. I praise God that I can do so in the knowledge that if I follow the ‘Cloud’, as the Israelites were charged to do, then the end of the journey is the promised City of God.
Praise God for the ‘Cloud’!