Originally published Monday, 21 September 2020.
As a child, I lived in a small coastal town where the summer days took on rhythms.
Typically, the summer days would start out gray, cold, and with fog enveloping the small town in its soft, airy fleece. By 10 am the blue skies broke through the clouds and gave way to sunny days and warm temperatures. This cycle would occur day after day. We would usually have at least 4-6 solid hours, before the heat from the interior valley would pull the fog back to blanket our small home once again.
Those carefree mornings invited me to ride bikes with my brothers and play dolls with my sister; we would watch the sky for the first hint of robin egg blue. Once the first glimpse came, we excitedly shed our sweatshirts and allowed the warming rays of the sun to drive away the chill bumps that had surfaced in our anticipation.
The cadence of those clouds is forever embedded in my memory. It was there I had the power to make decisions about what the days would look like, the adventures we would have, and the innocent problems we would solve as kids.
Would we ride our bikes and then lay in the grass to find cloud animals?
Would we eat lunch outside and run through the sprinkler?
Would it get warm enough to convince mom to let us go barefoot and eat popsicles?
The clouds gave us a sense of hope. Hope for something brighter. Hope for clarity from the fog. Hope for warmth. We knew from experience that the clouds wouldn’t last forever, and we would soon be able to dance in the sunshine.
One of the earliest places we see a picture of clouds in scripture is found as Moses leads the Israelite people toward the promised land.
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of a cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or night.”Exodus 13: 21, NIV
Even during their journey toward unknown territory, God faithfully provided guidance and reassurance of His presence. What a visual this must have been as it gave hope and stability to thousands of wandering and often frustrated people.
Later in the narrative, God led Moses up to Mt. Sinai him the Ten Commandments.
“When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it…For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day, the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites, the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”Exodus 24:15-18, NIV
Moses waited six days and the people down below, for another forty. There are times in our lives when a cloud seems to be covering what is to come. Uncertainty can plague us in those days of waiting, as we persevere in holding hope and anticipation for the future. In the times of Moses when the clouds finally parted, the people were exposed to the magnificent glory of God. We can expect the same.
When the days are dark or unclear, it can be difficult to anticipate the future with optimism. It can be easy to get wrapped up in a self-seeking and self-serving mentality.
The children of Israel fought this, just as I have on many occasions. They grew impatient during these times of waiting. The key to finding our way in the clouds is to remember His faithfulness in our own wildernesses.
As I have continued to age and experience the goodness of God, I am slowly learning to rest in the clouds. Despite how encompassing they can feel, I know they will not last forever, and that God in His constant love and grace will gently pull us close. Even in the clouds, we can find our strength and hope in Him.
Laura Sumpter is a native of the Pacific Northwest. She has been a teacher for over 20 years and she loves teaching children and women of all ages how to practically apply Scripture. She counts her husband and three children as the greatest blessings of her life. When she is not writing or teaching you can find her at the beach, in her garden, decorating her home, or playing with her family. Laura lives each day believing that God is faithful, no matter the circumstance. She desires to express the deep and satisfying hope that only Jesus can bring. You can find the lessons God is teaching her at her blog or on Instagram