The evening swayed gently as the current under our feet moved back and forth in the way that nature does. Our pontoon sat in the middle of the still and now-quiet lake, which had been bustling with summer-savoring families all day. Adults chatted, slightly dazed from the glow of the day as the kids shuffled from peering over the edge of the rails, hoping for a glimpse of a fish, to cuddling up on the bench seat of blankets, giggling in their own secret world. Everyone was quite lulled by the peaceful night, calm lake, and warmth of a lovely day in the sun. We sat there waiting for the sun to set. I had made the request for a perfect evening in the middle of the lake to watch a gorgeous sunset and the others had agreed, well the wives had; the men and children were there less due to their desire and more because it was scheduled. Don’t you love how that works?
The sun hovered above the tree line and began its final descent, as I sat in anticipation. My companions were more interested in each other than the impending beauty, but that was ok with me, I was ready to be awed. The sun crowned the horizon and then it was gone. The warm glow darkened for another day and settled on the other side of the world. Lovely, but…I couldn’t shake the slight feeling of disappointment.
My reaction surprised me as I realized I wasn’t looking for a subtle farewell. I’d been watching for more of the heavens opening in splendid radiance and angelic song to break into the air around us, as a glorious sunset wrapped up our lovely day in the most amazingly-orchestrated finale all around us, in the middle of the lake. I had been expecting a catch of breath in awe, but instead found myself holding my breath waiting moments after it had ended, exhaling in a slightly confused state. It had been pretty in an oh that was nice and good times with the family in the pontoon type way, but not the deep soul-touching magnificence I had been anticipating in my head all afternoon. We headed back to the campground and went on with our night of summer goodness (can I just say, I love…love…love summer?).
It took me a while to realize what made that sunset so ho hum compared to what I had been envisioning, and had seen many times (albeit not in a boat on the lake) before. I really don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out. It was lacking some of my favorite things to gaze at: clouds. That beautiful night there were no clouds; those silly puffs I often wish away when they cover the sun’s warmth and I am chilled, or they have taken over the sky one day too many and vitamin D is in high demand. You see, without the clouds, the sun has nothing to reflect on, peek through, or bring dimension and colors to the sky. Without clouds dancing around, the sun’s brilliance can not quite be reflected so gloriously as when it is competing for visual skyline. The sunset’s beauty is magnified by the clouds that reflect it’s receding rays. See the difference? Both beautiful, but one definitely more spectacular.
After pondering this revelation, how could I not bring it back around to life? The metaphorical morphing machine that is my brain went into high gear through the list of comparisons and here is my favorite thought.
It is okay to have clouds.
We all do.
Clouds are good.
We need clouds.
Not the ones in the sky — although I am sure that is true as well. We need the metaphorical clouds: the bumps and hits of life that we aren’t always too happy to see impeding our perfect life ideas on how things should be.
Clouds aren’t always fun; no pain or valley in life is wanted. However, if we are a Christ-follower, one who has chosen Jesus as our savior, our friend, our all… then we need to start seeing those clouds a bit differently.
Clouds actually make Jesus’ shine brighter and more magnificently through us. We can spend our life being good and nice and hopefully people will be drawn to the Jesus in us, but I guarantee that if you are clinging to him in stormy times — trusting him in hard, yucky times — his light will shine so exquisitely through you and into your world that it will not be forgotten. His glow will not only be seen farther than without the clouds of life, but it will also impact more souls than you realize. His glory will be proclaimed, just as it is on those nights when it seems the heavens are splitting wide with indescribable beauty and awe, where you have to remember to breathe as you stare into the wonder and grace.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands, Psalm 19:1.
I don’t know about you, but I want to choose to be thankful for the clouds in life. I choose to use those clouds to shine Jesus brighter and farther, and kick the enemy of our souls in the head (sorry for the violence but I did try to tone it down a bit).
Embrace the clouds as best you can. And remember the one who not only holds you, but shines through you. Let him shine.