I didn’t plan to have an encounter with God the other night.
As if one could plan that kind of thing anyway. I doubt Moses’ To-do list on The Day of the Burning Bush read:
- Tend sheep.
- Encounter God.
God-encounters can’t be predicted. Neither can they be denied.
Wyoming thunderstorms are also difficult to predict. This one rolled through town unannounced, accompanied by torrential rain and quarter-size hail. My husband Chris and I scrambled to cover our flowers before the worst of the hail hit, getting thoroughly soaked in the process. Then we safely enjoyed the rest of the show through rain-streaked windows. (Except for the dog, who hid shamelessly in the basement.)
The storm eventually passed, as storms eventually do. I decided there was still time to squeeze in my daily walk, despite the unexpected weather delay. So I laced up my tennies, donned a warmer shirt, and headed down our hail-lined gravel driveway. My eyes focused only on my feet, as I tried to avoid stepping in muddy rivulets or slipping on icy marbles. After successfully navigating a path to the paved street below, I planned to turn right, but felt prompted to look left.
Above me hung the most amazing cloud formation I have ever seen! A massive macaron, suspended in the eastern sky, spotlighted by beams of setting sun. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The glory of God perched right at the end of my driveway.
I stood there in stunned silence. Chin raised, jaw dropped. I suddenly felt very small. Yet, at the same time, blessed to behold such magnificence.
What does one do in the presence of Glory? Shake off one’s shoes, like Moses? Fall on one’s face, like Isaiah?
I pulled out my iPhone.
Not very spiritual, I know, but very “on brand” for me. I always keep my camera close, ready to capture the moment. But my amateur panoramic shot just couldn’t do this momentous moment justice.
I lingered beneath that cloud, feeling almost as if I was peering through a portal into Heaven itself. If a flash mob of angels had appeared and broken out into the Hallelujah Chorus, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. All too soon, however, the brilliance dimmed, and the enormous cloud disappeared into the twilight. I turned westward, resuming my walk and pondering what I had just experienced.
Back home, I eagerly showed the photo to my hubby. He thought it looked more like an alien invasion than an angelic visitation. (Apparently, aliens like to hide their spaceships in these types of clouds. Apparently, Chris likes to read too many sci-fi novels.) We’re still here. So I’ll assume he was mistaken, at least about this particular cloud.
As for me, I’m still processing my Close Encounter of the God Kind. Glimpses of glory require reflection. (Alien invasions probably do too.)
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
- God is more majestic than we can ever imagine. The Bible says that He “…(lays) the beams of His palace on the waters above, making the clouds His chariot, walking on the wings of the wind.” (Psalms 104:3, HCSB) If creation is so awe-inspiring, then how much more its Creator?
- God reveals His glory in the world around us and the skies above us. The Night of the Incredible Cloud, this verse was on repeat in my mind: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV) Evidence of His existence abounds. His glory is everywhere, on display.
- All we have to do is look up. I was so fixated on my feet that evening that I almost missed the majesty. I walked the entire length of my driveway unaware that Heaven was right at hand. Luke 21:28 compels us to “…look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (KJV) What is this redemption? It’s Jesus, returning for His bride! And guess how He will appear?
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27, NKJV, italics mine)
Did you catch that cloud reference? (I’ve got chills.) I can’t help but wonder if the sky on The Day of His Return will look something like it did the other night. Actually, I bet it will be So. Much. More. Glorious. One thing is certain: it will be impossible to miss!
On that Day, the Bible states that “…every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11, NASB) There won’t be time to upload a pic. You’ll be down on your knees, singing His praise.
Until then, let’s keep our chins up. Literally.
Lift your eyes to the heavens.
Watch the clouds for His return.
He’s coming soon, and the whole earth will be full of His Glory.