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Under the cloud

Matthew 28:20b – “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

I have been reading a fictional account of a Biblical truth regarding Caleb. It tells of his life and story as it relates to the children of Israel and their exodus from Egypt. While reading it the other day, I couldn’t help but stop and ponder for a moment about how it must have felt the day that the cloud was no longer over the children of Israel. 

Think about it, from the time they left Egypt until they crossed the Jordan river, they had a cloud to provide protection from the hot sun in the day and warmth from the fire within at night. There was an entire generation that grew up under that cloud. They were a generation that knew only of the cloud and its’ movement. They were a generation that had only eaten manna from Heaven. 

Can you imagine what it would have felt like to wake up one morning with none of that there? I tried to find when the cloud left and the manna stopped but didn’t find a specific time. It just seemed to no longer be available. 

Sometimes when we choose to walk away from God, it feels like He is just no longer available. In actuality, it is us that is unavailable. We are the ones who have left Him, not the other way around. 

God never left the children of Israel even when they left Him. He never forgets His promises. He never forgets your name. He always remembers your burdens and successes and faults and highlights. 

So if for some reason or another you feel like you have gotten up and God is…gone, He’s not. You have moved, not Him. 

Search your heart. Identify the sin that has built up the wall that is keeping you from His loving protection and guidance. Tear it down and rest under His cloud. 

Hiding

Psalm 17:5-8 – “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings”

The weather was rough last night. We didn’t know if we would have tornados or not. The wind whipped. The rain poured. The sky rumbled. The lightening dance through the sky. But no tornados that I know of in my area. 

But as we headed to church last night, listening to the radio, we couldn’t hear a full song because of all the warnings that were being issued. We called some friends of ours that we knew were over by our church building to ask about the weather over there. When they told us it was okay for now, we headed that way. 

It reminded me of something my grandma said one time – She was cooking Christmas dinner while a storm was raging outside her house. A tornado actually danced across the field across from her house. She just kept basting the turkey. When we asked her, “Grandma, shouldn’t you have tried to get somewhere safe? The tornado could have come right for your house!” She replied, “If the Lord wants you, He gonna git you whether you’re hidin’ or not!” 

God holds all His children in His hand. He knows our fears. He knows our circumstances. He knows it all. And He cares. He cares more than we could ever comprehend. We are the apple of His eye. We can never hid from God. He knows our every step and every thought. 

So the next time you find fear in your heart or uncertainty in your step, remember that God knows. He knows the tornados threatening you. He knows the rocks in your path. He knows the joy in your heart. He understands the concerns that you may have. Let Him be in control of it all. 

Hope. 

Revelation 21:4 – “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

I woke up yesterday morning with something I have I never experienced before – severe pain in my shoulders and upper back. I turned over to turn off my alarm and felt like someone had stabbed me in the shoulders! And it nagged me all day. 

And then I saw the news – a plane full of soccer players went down in Central America. Six people survived. Three were on the soccer team. My son came home and informed me that one of the men who died had just learned he would be a father. My heart broke. 

So much pain. So much sorrow. So many tears. So many fears. 

Bummer. Right? Geesh, Melissa. You sure know how to throw on a wet towel!

But wait! There’s a bright side!

My God, MY GOD!, shall wipe away ALL tears. Not some tears – all tears. All the tears from losing a loved one. All the tears from physical pain. All the tears of the broken hearted. All tears. They shall be wiped away by the hand of the tender and loving God. 

I’m looking forward to that day. It has been a wild and wacky year filled with uncertainty and confusion and anger and frustration. But it has also been a year of hope and laughter and joy as well. 

But one day, when Jesus returns, He will set all things straight. He will make all things new. He will take all the yuck out of the world and make it so much better. 

I’m looking forward to that day. I’m ready for it. And as much as I enjoy the twinkling lights of Christmas, I look forward to the everlasting Light of the world shining for all to see. 

Hope. 

HE IS STILL IN CONTROL

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Matthew 6:34 – “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”

So for the last few days, everyone has asked me, “What do you think about the election?” My response has been, “God is still in control.” A few people have come back with a “Really?” But yesterday, one lady, who is through her lineage a Jew, said to me, “You really believe He is still in control? I’m not so sure.”

I. Was. Heartbroken. I don’t understand how anyone could question whether or not God is in control. But when someone who professes to be a Jew and knowing their heritage and all that God has done for them says to me “Really?”, I am troubled. 

Whether or not you are happy or sad or burdened or depressed or concerned about the way things are going right now, God is in control. He always has been and He always will be. Crazy people may rule the land. (They have been, right?)   Fanatics may be throwing temper tantrums in the street. Extremist may be marching around trying to intimidate everyone. But GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!  

I think the most troubling thing about some of the discussions where people question whether or not He is still in control is this – where is their hope? I HAVE to believe that He is still in control. Otherwise, I think in would curl up in a ball in the corner and wait out the rapture. He is my hope. Knowing that He is in control gets me out of bed and gets me through dealing with crazy people. It is what puts one foot in front of the other. 

My hope, my trust, my comfort is solely in Jesus Christ my Savior. As the old song goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust a sweeter strain but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

The Encourager

Deuteronomy 3:28 – “But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.”

Encouragement. We all need a good, hefty dose now and then. We need someone to come alongside of us, wrap their arm around our shoulder and hear those words, “It’s okay. You got this.”

Too often, however, sometimes I find myself looking at that encourager and laughing at them. I want to say, “Seriously? Do you SEE what I’m up against?”  I don’t allow the one trying to lift me up to do so. Whatever good they are trying to build up within me, I’m tearing down just as fast as they build. 

Why? Why is that? Why do we reject emotional and spiritual and, sometimes, physical encouragement? 

Pride. “I don’t need no body’s help!” (Yes, I know it’s horrible grammar but it paints a more realistic picture. Work with me here!)

Pride is a horrible, ugly monster that creeps out of us at the most yucky of times. Here we are, wallowing in the mud and someone offers a hand to help and we push it away by trying to convince them it’s a spa treatment and we like it. When in truth, we are bawling our eyes out on the inside. We want their help but pride keeps us from accepting it. 

In these verses, God is telling Moses to go and have a few words with Joshua to build him up. He needs to be encouraged. He’s about to take over as leader of the children of Israel. I underlined “children” because that’s how they acted most of the time. You know, kinda like us…..

Joshua needed all the encouragement he could get. And know what? He took it. He gobbled it up like a Thanksgiving turkey! He knew he needed all the wisdom and encouragement Moses was willing to offer. 

We can learn a lot for Joshua. When someone tries to encourage you, take it. Gobble it up! Don’t be stubborn about it. Don’t try to be all cool about it. Take it in! God knows something you don’t know and He is using that encourager to get to you and build you up. 

Listen. Listen well. God is speaking. He wants you to hear. 

Resting

Psalm 91:1 – “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

It’s not too often that I take time to rest. It seems like I am running from the time my eyes open in the morning until they close at night. My day is filled with running here and there, preparing this and that and the general chaos that sustains the life of a mom with one teenager and one almost teenager. 

I’m not complaining. I love my life. I love my kids. But I also like to rest. Yesterday, I purposefully made time to rest. Oh, I still got the laundry done and put away, the dishes cleaned and put away and prepared lunch for today, but I also slept outside for an hour. I stuck my feet in the pool and chilled. I read an ENTIRE magazine! Oh happy day. It was blissful. 

God wants us to rest. He wants us to rest from our work. He wants us to rest from our insanity called life. We need that time to recuperate. Our bodies need it. Our spirit needs it, and our mind needs it. 

The best place to rest in in the “shadow of the Almighty”. Don’t you just love the picture that word phrase brings to mind? I picture a grand and gigantic tree that has boughs going out as far as the eye can see. The air within the branches is cool and sweet. The grass is soft and cozy. The trunk is stable and the roots are deep. That is exactly where I want to be. Protected from the outside world. Safe and secure. How amazing would that be?!

And while this place may not exist here on earth (who knows, maybe it does), I know that I can find that place spiritually. I can crawl into His shadow and rest. I can choose to let Him cover me with His love in such a way that the outside world becomes a distant memory. That’s were we need to be. 

So let me encourage you to make that time this week. Choose to spend some time in the “shadow of the Almighty”. Let Him refresh and restore you. Let Him bring peace to your heart. 

Until we meet again…

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

On Friday night, my cousin (in-law) died. She had battled cancer off and on for quite some time. She fought. She lived. She loved. But in my eyes, she gained her heavenly home way too early. Her son had just gotten married. Her younger son is just starting to spread his wings and fly. There was still a lot of life to live, in my eyes. 

But God saw things differently. He had prepared her a while ago to take the last step. She knew it was coming. However, that never makes things any easier. 

Paul said that to be absent from this life is to be present with the Lord. And that’s where she is right now – with Jesus and all of her loved ones gone before her. 

I’m not sure how someone deals with death without Jesus. I know in my own life when death has reared its’ ugly head, I go running to my Savior. I can’t face anything, let alone saying goodbye, without Him. 

I’m sad that I won’t get to make it to her services. I would love to be there for the family. But since I can’t, this is my way of loving on them. 

So, you know who you are – I love you. I know I wasn’t able to be there a lot but my memories of her are so very sweet. And be comforted in knowing that we will see her again. She knew Jesus and she lived for Him. Now, she lives with Him. What a privilege that is! My prayer is that you find peace and comfort in the One and Only. 

Love, Me.