I’m so honored to have my dear friend, Janet Hines write for us today. This blog post is a bonus devotion celebrating the launch of her new book Between the Valley and the Mountaintop: Glimpses of God in the Middle Places.
As a child, I remember laying on my back in the grass and watching the clouds go by, layering light and dark. Sometimes we would pick out animals we saw or faces. Time passed and so did the particular shapes we had just been talking about.
Maybe it was the fact that we grew up on a farm and were always watching for storms and praying for rain or praying for no more rain.
There is nothing flat and calm about this sky.
Layer upon layer of clouds build a dimensional scene that holds my gaze this particular morning, also layering light and dark.
“He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.”Psalm 147:8
In this scripture Ezekiel is telling us about a vision he had. I can only dream and imagine what the day of Jesus’ return and the glory of His presence will be like.
“As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD and when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.”Ezekiel 1:28
Ezekiel goes on to tell of the instructions God gave him.
The most famous cloud in the Bible is the one that led the Israelites out of Egypt.
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”Exodus 13:21-22
These scriptures talk about the presence of God in the clouds, how His glory is there and what happens next as He comes near.
But there is a new piece of this revealed to us in the New Testament. God gave us physical Jesus but as He ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell within us.
“But the Helper, The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”John 14:26-27
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”Luke 24:50-51
The heavens and the clouds bear witness of the presence of God to me.
The disciple John tells us, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so, Amen.”Revelation 1:7
Watching the clouds, I feel a deep connection to the powerful creation God has given us. I am highly aware of the wonder I feel deep inside me. I know the Holy Spirit connects me to the next part of God’s plan where Jesus returns and I stand in awe and fall to my knees in worship.
There are days my gaze is fixed on what is above because the view down here, around me and the places my feet some days stand, are really hard. I don’t understand the sadness, grief and suffering I have witnessed, but I know God has used my heart to become a voice for hope. A voice I chose to proclaim His glory to the suffering because I have experienced His presence in those dark places, layering light and dark.
When you experience hard times, remember to look up and consider how your focus can change the outcome from helplessness to hope filled. God does that for us.
I believe even as a child, my soul connected to all these truths I had not yet learned. Choosing to place my focus on the hope from above has changed what the world had planned for me.
Working through the layers of my life and the depth they have created, just like the clouds above, reveal His presence even when I felt alone.
“Father we thank you for Your abundant love showering over us. Through the storms of life, You are present. Through the dark nights You are there. We thank You. We praise you. Amen.”
A little about Janet:
Janet Hines is a photographer and author on a journey of restoration and learning to be grateful for brokenness. Through photography, travel experiences and writing, she brings together pieces of life in ways that connect with the hurting people who need to know they are not alone. Her heart’s desire is to build a community of hope through sharing Christ all of her days.
Connect with Janet at janethines.com and order Between the Valley and the Mountaintop: Glimpses of God in the Middle Places today.
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