September 3, 2017
On the morning of August 21st, we all eagerly anticipated a solar eclipse. Many folks bought special eclipse glasses, or even a welding helmet, in order to view it safely. And then the unthinkable happened… cloud cover blocked our view. Some in the area managed to get a very quick glimpse in between the clouds, but many were not able to see it in person at all. I had put the zoom lens on my camera and was all set to take an awesome photo, but it didn’t happen.
So often in our lives we make big plans, work toward goals, set aside funds, make purchases, and do whatever else is necessary to bring about something that we dream about for weeks, months, or even years. And then the unthinkable happens. For some it could be something as devastating as a hurricane or flood. Or our dark cloud could be an unforeseeable illness. Or maybe the sudden loss of a job, or a transfer within the company. An unplanned pregnancy… Or possibly even an unexpected death. Whatever it is, we consider it anything but a blessing. That cross country trip, that retirement home, that college education, or whatever else it might have been, suddenly escapes our grip and gets washed down the sewer drain. And we curse the cloud that rained on our parade.
But we need to look at those clouds from a different perspective. Instead of always viewing them as something negative, try looking at them in a positive light. For example, the fact that it was cloudy the day of the eclipse, might have prevented someone who would have stared at it unprotected from going blind. Is my getting a killer photo worth someone else losing their eyesight?
Several years ago, before I was a pastor, Ed and I tried to sell our house in Morris. We had our heart sent on purchasing a different house in Morris that was for sale. Several months went by. Our realtor had scheduled showings for us, but none ever resulted in an offer, much less a sale; and the house we were looking to buy sold to someone else. Trying not to become discouraged, we started looking at houses in Mazon. But again, nothing ever worked out right, and we finally quit trying. And then this past May, I got a call from our District Superintendent, asking me if I would consider a second church, even though it was rather late in the appointment season. I said yes before she even added, “they have a parsonage”. Suddenly, all of the frustration and disappointment we had gone through with trying to move made perfect sense. If we had sold our home and purchased another one, we would have just had to sell that one now, and move again. Or maybe we wouldn’t have wanted to, and instead hesitated about taking on the second church. Either way, that cloud that hovered over the previous marketing of our house, turned out to be a blessing.
When we trust the Lord, having faith in His promise that He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28), clouds don’t darken our day, they bring showers of blessing!
I know we all have days when we feel as though nothing is going right. Days when we wish we could just go back to bed and start the day all over again, or maybe just skip it all together. But remember, God is still on the throne. He is still in control. He isn’t missing, like on the television show, Preacher, in which Jesse is on a quest to find God because no one knows where He is. And God not only knows your past, and your present, but also your future. As He said to the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
So when that cloud above you starts to rain, don’t run from it. Look up, and let the rain wash you, and cleanse you, and refresh your spirit. Let it remove whatever is keeping you from God’s plan for your life. Let it make your spirit grow and blossom and flourish, even though it might seem to only dampen it at the time. We all need rain in our lives. Without it, we would dry up and be worthless to God and to other people. How many times have we forgotten about God when our lives were going perfectly? Or been unable to sympathize with those going through misfortunes and tragedies? Last week I read to you what God said to the church in Sardis in Revelation chapter 3. Today let me read you what He said to the church in Laodecia in the same chapter, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Yes, whoever has ears… May the Lord open your ears, your eyes, your hearts and minds to His truth, and may your spirits welcome the rain He sends into your lives, knowing He will get you through the storm, and you will come out of it better than you went in. Amen.
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