The other day was a sporadic mix of sun and showers. Ever had wacky weather like that?
At morning, the skies were clear, the breeze easy, and the sun bright. In a few hours, gray clouds pushed in. Thunder rolled from afar. Rain fell. Then it all blew away, leaving only some blustering gusts of wind. And it was back to dappled blue and white skies and a peek of sunshine.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, those gray clouds chased the white ones away. Rain began to fall yet again. Thunder repeated its call. Then, just as before, it stopped–leaving a sky the soft gray of baby goslings and air with the sweet smell of a freshly washed, almost-spring earth. No sunshine beamed on our street, but I’m sure it’s shining above those clouds.
Dear heart, it struck me over and over again how like life today’s weather has been. Sometimes bright. Sometimes predictable. Sometimes unexpected. Sometimes dark. But one thing is constant: the sun is there. And I would stretch the analogy even further to say, the Son is there, too. He has graciously given us that promise in Matthew 28:20,
“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We have the comfort of His peace:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Therefore let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
and the power of the Spirit:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
We live in a heavily forested neighborhood with many tall, older trees. Most are deciduous and leafless right now. Others are evergreen and bear the weight of winter snows. I can see some of each from my kitchen window. That morning, I watched the barely budding branches of those very trees bend and sway in response to each gust of wind. Through my spattered window panes, they seemed to be dancing together, leaning against each other, swaying this way and that. Thankfully, not a one fell!
Watching those trees made me think of the blessings of Christian community. God has fashioned us with a need for that. He recognized it way back in Adam. (Genesis 2:18) The early Christians experienced community. (Acts 2:43-45) Churches exist to worship and praise Jesus–and to foster an encouraging community among believers as we worship, serve, study–live life–together. In hard times, Christians shoulder each other’s trials and bear each other up. Pain is softened through empathically broken hearts, merciful listening ears, gentle helping hands, and apt encouraging words. In good times, Christians share a joyful glimpse of heaven.
Presence. Peace. Hope. Heaven.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)
Isn’t that promise of heaven, of being with Christ, the greatest encouragement on stormy days and the greatest expectation on sunny ones?
Right now, maybe you’re drowning in a stormy squall. Take shelter under my umbrella and journey with me on down to Hebrews, chapter 12. Now peek out from under the edge of the umbrella and take a good look–can you see them in your mind’s eye? It’s that great number of spiritual heroes listed and described in Hebrews 11, that cheering stadium crowd in the clouds, their steadfast lives encouraging you and me and all fellow Christians~
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
If that verse from Hebrews 12 resonates with you as it does with me, click on the link below to hear a musical rendering of its message in the song (and most decidedly in the ending refrain) “He Was Heard” by Michael Card:
Join me, precious one. Let’s put down those heavy weights. Let’s walk away from those dark sins. Let’s run–side by side, on and on–our eyes looking only ever to Jesus!
Thank you, Father God, for sun and showers, for the community of believers, for the presence and peace of Christ, and for the hope of heaven.