Breaking Through The Clouds
Every Thanksgiving my entire family travels up to Pennsylvania for a feast of turkey, stuffing and all the traditional trimmings with family and friends. On black Friday while everyone else is scooping up those door buster specials at Target, my dad and I along with Josh (and this year Amanda!), my brother in law and his daughters caravan up to a cabin my dad built in north central Pennsylvania about 1 mile from the New York state border.
To say that this cabin is remote is an understatement. The nearest town, Knoxville is six miles away and the area zip code has a population of 1,116. The nearest grocery store is 10 miles away and the nearest Walmart is 40. There is no TV, no internet connectivity, no traffic, very little radio reception and the cabin is heated by a wood stove and nestled among 100 acres of woods, fields and overgrown pasture. To me such isolation and solitude seems like a little slice of heaven, to the younger generation with a heavier reliance on technology...
We go up there for a venerable Pennsylvania tradition- the opening of deer season. We laugh, play card games, eat lots of good food, swap stories and spend time in the woods. We arrive Friday afternoon and I usually try to leave around Tuesday at noon for the six and a half hour 302 mile trip straight south to Manassas. The trip home is always rather grueling, especially after several days of waking up early, lots of walking up and down hills and many hours spent out in the fresh mountain air. I often have to fuel up on several cups of coffee along the way just to stay awake.
This year was especially tough. While the hunting was not particularly successful, the one thing I did manage to catch was a nasty cold. The nose- running, multiple-sneeze, constant-itching and watery-eyes variety. It absolutely wiped me out so that by the time it was time to return home I was feeling really lousy. On top of that, from the moment we got into the car to return home it began to pour down rain- which it continued to do for the next four hours. Driving at highway speeds in a 4 hour downpour put the icing on the cake. I was miserable.
Then all of a sudden we drove out of the storm. The rain lessened and the golden gleam of the winter sun broke through and backlit the remaining storm clouds. Behind the clouds was a sky so rich and blue it had hints of indigo. The cell phone photo (above) just can't do it justice.
Amanda said to me, "Isn't it amazing to think that that beautiful sky was behind the clouds the whole time?"
Wise words. And she was absolutely right. When storm clouds and rain hide the sun, that's all they can ever do- hide it. The same sky and sun are there all the time, ever shining and breathtaking as ever. The storm doesn't change the sun, only my perception of it. I may not be experiencing the brilliance of it in the moment, but it is still there unchanging and true.
God's faithfulness and love is much the same. Momentary trials and disappointments may hide my perception of God's presence, but He is still there unchanging and true. God's faithfulness cannot be changed by circumstances, only temporarily concealed. And often, just on the other side of the storm, is a vivid display of his majesty that wipes away all doubt- God breaks through the clouds.
A wise pastor once told me, "don't doubt in the dark what you knew to be true in the light." In the midst of struggle it is easy to second guess ourselves and God's good purposes. Hang on... right on the other side of the storm is a renewing display of his glory that breaks through the clouds.