A cloud breaks free

Creation is what brought me back into the fold of those children of God working hard every day for His glory.  I was a nominal Christian for my college years - although I wonder if some of the acquaintances I shared the Gospel with during that time might object to my loose use of the term "nominal"? - and continued to struggle, as a young, single career woman with how God was supposed to fit into my daily life and my internal monologue.  During those same years of confusion and incremental creep away from church and openly professing Christians, I learned to snowboard and kayak.  I have a penchant still, as a somewhat past-her-prime mother of four, for extreme sports.  There is nothing like the thrilling drop in the pit of your stomach when you go over the top of a mountain peak at 20 miles per hour, the snow crystals giving an impromptu exfoliating treatment and your breath stolen by the 40 mile an hour straight wind up above the tree line.  Nothing like the way all other sounds disappear when you are fighting to stay upright in the foam and swirl of an angry class IV whitewater stretch in springtime on the Kettle River.  Nothing to make you realize your insignificance on this round ball of dirt like the coming of a winter squall up along the North Shore of Lake Superior toward the flimsy fiberglass hull of your 17' kayak when you are about a mile out in 5 foot rollers with only 5 mm of neoprene to save you from hypothermia in the glacial blue water if you capsize.

All of that, I did.  In my past life.  What God taught me through it is that creation is his way of eroding disbelief.  I saw the incomprehensible God who caused the mountains to rise out of the plains and opened storehouses of snow to give me a 'powder day' and sent the spring rains every spring and flooded the Kettle River. Did I really want to say to Him, "You don't matter that much to me.  You're not important enough to spend much time thinking about.  I'm not even going to bother going to your temple.  I'll pray when I need you.  You just stay over there.  I'll come to you if I want you.  You'll hear from me if I feel like it, alright?"  Casual acquaintance?  Is that what I wanted to reduce the Creator of the universe to, when He asked for my love and commitment?  Creation demanded my respect for a Creator.  My life - the fact that I was still alive after my death sentence at 19 - demanded my love and passionate response to a loving, benevolent and merciful Savior.

These cold days of fall, surrounded by some new troubles and some old ones, I shrink inside of myself like a withering leaf.  The days are cold, the error in my Synthroid dose is rocketing me toward hibernation, my very soul shrinks back from people in confusion and uncertainty.  I hurt...body, soul and spirit.  Yet I woke up today after blissfully sleeping in now that my eldest is home to get breakfast, woke up to the ache in my lungs that makes me wonder about pneumonia, to a fever of 103 for a 7th day...in short, I woke up feeling old and tired and sick, and more like cursing someone - anyone - for my lack of lymph nodes and a thyroid gland than praising God for anything.  Yet the first thing I saw, from my pillow: a swirling cloud caught in a wind eddy below the ceiling of gray.  Just a finger of cloud, pulled away from the mass above it.  This cloud wasn't gray. It was sparkling, glittering, funneling, dancing and completely lit by the finger of sun that leaked through the hole above it, where the blanket of gray was torn and the light of heaven shone through.

If you're a skeptic, all you see in a yellow fingerling cloud is chance.  You might even turn away from the window in disgust, with contempt for a world that mocks you with these happenstance displays of color and beauty.  But I chose a different path.  Somewhere around 21, I chose to worship the Creator who puts His works on display for me every single day of my life.  I chose to thank the God who chose my particular combination of Deoxyribonucleic acid out of the infinite possibilities when my parents conceived me.  I choose to believe that He has something in particular to accomplish through my life...something that will not be thwarted by evil, or cut short by cancer, or disabled by disability, or drowned in housework, or humbled by my humble humanness.

So next time a little tree frog leaps onto your window, and your children crowd around to see the little creature, an alien in the dry Wisconsin woods of September...

Next time you wake up and lie in your bed to listen to the thunder and incessant beating of the rain on your roof...

Next time a bean field is lit with 24 karat gold by the afternoon sun...

Or the path you always take for your morning run is drowned in feet of swirling brown riverwater exploded beyond it's banks...

Remember: this is a display, perhaps just for you, of the awe-inspiring power of God.  Do you want to place that God in a little box you only open on Sundays...or perhaps not at all?  The heart-breaking tenderness of His mercy - the mercy that keeps the rivers from drowning you or the winter from freezing you or the wind from sweeping you off the face of the earth - may just bring you back to your knees.

"He chose us before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will -- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." ~Ephesians 1:4-8 (NIV)

"I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth for myself. I summon you by name and bestow upon you honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness. Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker...turn to me, and be saved." ~Isaiah 44:24, 45:4,9,22

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the word of our God stands forever." ~Isaiah 40:6,8 (NIV)

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain 
and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man, 
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?

“Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?"
(Job 38)

If you do not know for certain you are saved, please read my post on salvation here, and feel free to e-mail me at gmthul@yahoo.com if you have questions.