I once had a little black cloud that liked to follow me around. Like Charlie Brown’s friend “Pigpen,” whose own personal cloud of dirt could be cleaned up temporarily, only to quickly materialize again,I couldn’t seem to shake mine for long. I even gave it a name. I called it “The Cloud of Condemnation.”
The dust and debris which composed my cloud consisted mainly of the disapproval and judgment I felt (some real, some imagined) from other people. The enemy would toss in his own dirt clods of accusation from time to time, and would further pollute the cloud with the suffocating smog of condemnation. Feelings of unworthiness, discouragement and defeat bounced around me like Pigpen’s ever present dust storm.
I lived in the shadow of this persistent cloud for several years, before the rays of God’s truth began to peek through. I’d read verses like Romans 8:1, which assured me there was “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I reminded myself that Satan was the author of any message with an accusing tone, not God. (Revelation 12:10)
But the following story, by pastor and author Ken Blue, was the ray of truth that finally penetrated the toxic cloud and caused it to disperse. I pray it speaks to anyone who may feel hemmed in by a similar cloud.
When I was five years old, my grandfather and I stood in the middle of a 120-acre wheat field that was dry and ready for harvest. He said that if ever I happened to be there when the field caught fire (which it did occasionally), I should not run. A wind-swept blaze travels faster than anyone can run. Instead, I should immediately start a fire right where I stood, then stand in the midst of the burned-down stubble so that the larger blaze could not reach me. He said, ‘Fire cannot pass where fire has already passed.’
The fire of God’s judgment, the terrible punishment for sin, has already passed through Christ. Now those who are standing in Christ have no judgment or condemnation to fear: because fire cannot pass where fire has already passed.”
The scorched place is the safe place. Jesus experienced and endured the searing heat of judgment to shield us from it. When we stand in the shadow of the cross, condemnation can no longer cast its dark shadow over our lives. Nothing can touch the one who is in Christ.
The clouds of condemnation still occasionally threaten to gather. But when they do, I merely point to the blackened ground beneath my feet, and take my place at the foot of the cross. The clouds quickly dissipate in the radiance of the Son.
I am free!
“There IS therefore now NO condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)