At 8:00 AM this morning I left my small East Texas town to drive to another small East Texas town, because I’d been asked to speak to a MOPS group there. When I started my car I powered off the CD player. The trip would take a little over an hour, and I wanted to use the road time to pray. I wasn’t nervous about speaking, but I slightly dreaded the topic.
I’d driven only about five miles when I saw the first one. It’s a common phenomenon in hilly areas around here, especially if there’s a creek nearby. A white mass settles into a valley, like a cloud overslept and got left behind when the others took to the morning sky. It really looks quite lovely and mysterious as you approach. This one wasn’t very large. I could see the whole thing and knew exactly where I would emerge on the other side. I plunged into the milky fog unconcerned, and moments later shot back out into shining clarity.
What was this dreadful topic, you ask? Trusting God with our children. And what’s to dread about that? Nothing. And everything. It’s a beautiful and terrifying thing to trust God with our children. It means admitting we’re not in control (which we’re not) and that He might call them to suffer (which He will). It means laying aside our American-dream colored glasses to see through crystal clear lenses of truth.
About twenty minutes later I came to the Sabine River bridge and entered the next cloud. I hadn’t seen this one from a distance. It enveloped me gradually, growing denser the farther I went. As visibility decreased I slowed my speed. Oncoming headlights appeared only long enough to zip past, trailing gray metal blurs behind them. Ghost trees haunted the roadside. I knew that beyond this cloud a radiant day blazed. I’d seen it, crisp and clean, filled with all the glory that is autumn, but I couldn’t see it now. Not as long as the cloud remained. And it remained for miles.
I wasn’t looking forward to telling them that, as a young mom I took great comfort in the assurance that God knew what I could handle and would ordain my path accordingly. Then my world crashed in, and I learned that God doesn’t give us what we can handle. He gives us what He intends to handle through us, what conforms us to the image of His Son. I know it’s important, but it’s such a weighty subject. We’d have more fun if I talked about frivolous things, like Halloween costumes. Or even potty training.
The third cloud was different. It didn’t lie on the ground like a lazy dog, rubbing its belly against the contours of the earth. It was a thin white wisp, suspended like a creamy veil just above the tree tops. I’d never seen anything quite like it, solid, unmoving, as though held in place by invisible hands for a purpose known only to its possessor. Passing under this cloud I could still see everything around me just fine. Only my view of the heavens was obscured.
Fear is a liar and a thief. A liar, because it fills our minds with hypothetical horrors, and a thief because it steals precious hours we can never get back and strips them of peace. Fear is a cloud, obscuring what’s real, and what’s real is something that can’t be imagined. It can only be received and is only given when it’s needed.
Every life journey passes through clouds. Some have a visible end. Others feel like they go on forever. And others shift our focus from the eternal to the temporary. But what is a cloud? It is merely a vapor. Rise above the cloud, and everything becomes clear again.
Today I told a group of beautiful young moms that they can trust God with their children. I told them because I know it’s true. And smiling through their tears, they heard.