Monday, July 30, 2007

My Water, His Cloud

I watched some DVDs that my parents loaned me called "Changing Hearts, Changing Lives" from the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. There were several good points, but one I like is the water bottle analogy. The teacher said that if a water bottle with it's lid off gets pushed or pulled or twisted water goes on the floor. The world says that there's water on the floor because the bottle got pushed, pulled and twisted. The Bible says that there's water on the floor because there was water in the bottle. Meaning, if you get pushed, pulled and twisted by stresses in life, what comes out of you is what was in you, not the fault of the stressors. I liked that because I find myself giving myself excuses for sinful behavior, "I was totally stressed out," "I'm hormonal," or "I didn't have enough sleep last night," etc. I think I don't even consider my curt answers, impatience and quick anger 'sin', it was just me having a bad day. Sometimes, I've gone as far as to give myself a quota of "bad moods" per month or week, like it's due me or something! It's my easy rationalization, it skips the excuse! I thought so often that "nobody's perfect" that the saying transformed in my mind from a fact to a rationale and excuse.

Since this little enlightenment, bringing awareness to more sinful reactions I'd ignored ("You woke up the baby?!" "I already told you, you weren't listening" responding with sarcasm or curtness, etc.) I became frustrated with how often I failed. In reading my little devotional from Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest," I was inspired how he backed up the Biblical Counseling DVD series I watched in viewing every stressful, painful, difficult moment as a moment for God to be with us that very moment and do a good work in us. He describes these moments as clouds. I tried describing his cloud analogy to my friend and it came out rather long-winded and well, cloudy. So, in his own words, I give you Mr. Oswald Chambers:
In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. "The clouds are the dust of His feet" ( Nahum 1:3 ). They are a sign that God is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near us without clouds— He does not come in clear-shining brightness.

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?

There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.

". . . they were fearful as they entered the cloud" (Luke 9:34). Is there anyone except Jesus in your cloud? If so, it will only get darker until you get to the place where there is "no one anymore, but only Jesus . . ." (Mark 9:8 ; also see Mark 2-7 ).

That last bit is my favorite part. Do I see anyone but Jesus in my stressful moment? Sometimes I'll see Him along with the people or situation that's shaking my bottle up. Often, I don't see Jesus at all in those moments, but I'm starting to look for Him. To make Him the only One I see helps me realize how utterly in control of all things He is. Thank goodness for that!

1 comment:

Jana said...

I really like this post, too! It is so much along the same lines of what I've been learning in the last year or two. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus... and the things of earth grow strangely dim..." Focus is such a huge thing. And that water bottle analogy really hit home. Thanks for sharing this.