It seems that we have had too many days of late with low overhanging clouds. Sometimes they bring rain or snow, and sometimes they just deny us the warmth of the sun. As I reflected on this a sermon recently given by Greg Boyd reminded me that there are spiritual clouds too, clouds that deny us the warmth of God through Christ Jesus. It is such times when we know God is present, because we trust in Scripture and what it says about our God, but we have difficulty feeling the warmth of God’s love shining on us.
Clouds form for a variety of reasons, some for no other than that we have distanced ourselves from our God by following false gods or idols, or through our straying off the path to the Cross and we are no longer following Jesus. Other clouds come from the actions of others, from the powers and principalities of the world that desire to separate us from the love of God. Since they are not able to deny or rid the world of God, but they do create clouds so that we no longer see reality as it is in the brightness of the light that is our God.
Whatever the source of the clouds, they nevertheless are very real, and do deny us the light and warmth of God through Christ Jesus. So what can we do? I believe that God has given us ways to counteract the clouds, to confirm the love of God that is from above, and is ever present to us. These are the spiritual disciplines of faith.
Prayer is one discipline that will help us to create holes in the cloud, dissipating them with the power of communion with our God. Daily prayers of praise and supplication have the power to navigate through the clouds in order for us to come ever closer to the love of God. Just a few minutes every morning, or anytime that you would like to claim, is enough to assure us of our connection to our God, Lord of heaven and earth. And the longer that you spend in prayer, and the more often that you remember God and remember prayer in your day, the warmth of God’s presence is magnified.
Another discipline that helps to blow the clouds away is daily reading in the revealed word of God, the Bible. We have a god who reveals His nature to us through the Scripture, and more specifically in the living Word, who is Jesus the Messiah and Lord of all nations. So it is bathing in that revelation regularly that we are cleansed and renewed in the life that we have been given through our faith in Jesus.
Another means of experiencing the warmth and love of God is in community. When God’s community is united in Christ, the warmth and brightness of God dispels all clouds. I realize that often the church can leave us cold, especially when there is so much bickering and enough hypocrisy to choke a horse. However, when a people gathered by God come together to worship as one the Risen and Living Lord, Jesus, and when they act as Christ to the world, there is no more warmer or brighter place on earth. For that was God’s intent in gathering us, to shine on the hill, and bring warmth to a cold world.
So if you are in a place where you find that the clouds are thick and low overhead, I suggest that you consider getting on your knees before God more often, cracking open the dusty Bible on your shelf more often, and gathering with others, united in your worship of the God whose warmth and light can not be blocked out by mere clouds or any other obstacle.