Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Cloud

We love watching the clouds. As a child I remember lying in the grass cloud gazing and dreaming of the animals that would change in the sky, the dragons that would fight the large hippos, the big bunnies that would take over the puffy choo choos, or the big candy bar treats that would look so tasty. So naturally, I've instilled this imaginative play with the girls and M especially finds such joy with it. Some afternoons that Lydia naps we will go outside and see what we can find in the sky. I remember on our trip to Mississippi last summer we probably spent a solid hour staring out the windows while driving making up what we saw and trying to point out to each other to see if they could find it. 
The other day when I took this picture we had just been cloud gazing and I didn't have my camera on me, so later when I had a chance to snap a photo, I realized that the clouds were no longer puffy and fun and imaginative anymore. They were dark, almost creepy like, turning stormy and trying to cover the sun. Moving and changing within an instant, as if to say: "the time and season has past, move on." But it was too gorgeous of a shot to not take. 

I've been enjoying my reading through the Bible over the past few months (following a 2 yr reading plan by The Gosple Coalition-and actually staying on task!!) and deepening my study in Bible Study Fellowship on the Life of Moses (Exodus-Numbers). In several accounts there is discussion about this "cloud" that hovers with the Israelites, guiding and directing them, protecting them from the enemy as they leave Egypt, and commanding them at camp. This "cloud" was more than just a puffy substance in the sky-it was actually the presence of The Lord himself (YHWH)  that desired to be with His people. He was helping them along the way as they were leaving their past life of slavery with Pharoah and guiding them on their way into the Promised Land. Exodus 13 explains that the cloud never left the people, whether by day or by night. 

But in Numbers 9:15-23 there is a special passage about the cloud, that speaks about simple obedience and love and I have read it and re read it over and over again. Because it's a beautiful picture of God's love and desire to be WITH his people and with me. Read it for yourself: 

On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses. (Numbers 9:15-23 ESV)

As it was always. The cloud covered them. God's protection was over them. Always. He told them when to camp and when to go, and they listened (remember, this is in the middle of quite a grumbling, disobedient time in the life of the Israelites so that in itself is a big deal!!) they did exactly as they were told to do as God's protection and love surrounded them-as it always had. The Israelites seemed to suffer and grumble quite often, but they were always protected and provided for. Always. And as it always will for me. 

There is such great comfort of God's protection and provision in life.  May we always know the beauty of the cloud that encamps around us to protect and provide. 


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