I don’t fully understand the scientific benefit of the clouds, but I do know that when they fill the sky, they produce ambiguity…
For the past month or so, this ambiguity has showed up as I have struggled to pray, sense the presence of God, and have faith for mountains to move in my life. This has caused all kinds of unrest for me. Sleepless nights. Aching heart. I asked the Lord, why are there clouds? And why is it so cloudy for me right now?
If there is one thing I have learned as a follower of Christ it is that His ways are not my ways. And, while I may lack the ability to see His purpose in a particular circumstance, there is no doubt in my mind that every event in my life is purposeful; whether I understand it or not. This speaks to the greatness of God and the smallness of me.
I recently returned from a trip to Chicago with friends to celebrate graduation from Residency. Big ups to my friend T! Maryland stand up! I digress. During this trip a unique series of circumstance occurred as we drove from Cincinnati to Chi-town. The arduous journey produced a deep desire for McDonald’s french fries…so we stopped in Indianapolis, IN to get some. I will tell you how I knew we were in Indy a little later.
Fast forward to 10:30 pm and we arrived safely in Chicago! With great excitement we all jump out of the car and proceeded to grab our purses and belongings. It was at this moment that one of my friends realized that she had left her purse at McDonald’s. And it was not the McDonald’s around the corner. As a natural introvert and sleep deprived “type A personality,” everything in me “screamed” at the impending discomfort in the hours ahead. The group collectively decided to drive back to get the purse…problem is, no one knew “which” McDonald’s we had eaten at. Come to find out, Indiana loves it’s McDonald’s. There were so many locations there.
The rest of the story as follows highlights all of the amazing ways that God took care of us. As you read, you may begin to see that God’s vision is clear. He lives ABOVE the clouds, where it is always sunny and clear. He ALWAYS has a God’s-eye view!
So this is the abbreviated version of what happened:
1. I happened to still have the receipt from McDonald’s which I remember preparing to throw away at the restaurant after ordering, but this time I didn’t. By the way, no one else had their receipt. This is when we realized that the purse was in Indianapolis, IN…3 hours away.
2. We used the info on the receipt to call McDonald’s and amazingly, the purse had been located and given to the manager.
3. We left Chicago at 11:30 pm or so to head back to pick up the purse.
4. At approximately 2 am, I randomly asked if we had enough gas in the vehicle to make it it Indy. At first I was told “YES!” With this answer, I almost went to sleep. Fortunately, for all of us another friend looked again and said…”WE NEED GAS! The gas light is on…” Then there was a long moment of silence realizing that we were in the middle of no where in the wee hours of morning…and running out of gas.
5. Panic mode ensued for many in the car. We found a gas station that was open, only to arrive at the exit and it was closed. Under construction. WHAT? One of my friends tried to convince us that we could “drive through” the closed exit which clearly had barricades! In fact, it appeared that workers were in the process of adding more tar to the road. Her rationality went out of the window because of fear. Cloudy, right?
6. We drove an additional 3 more miles to a gas station at the next exit which is clearly closed. THE LONGEST (and quietest) 3 MILE JOURNEY OF MY LIFE. The lights at this BP gas station were off and so we thought, we would have to call AAA at this point. We only saw the lights above the pumps lit, but thought we’d check even thought it looked bleak. I distinctly remember the same friend who wanted to ride through barricades proclaim in that moment that, she needed our “faith game” to be on high! We thought the pumps would have been shut off if the store was closed. Thankfully they were not! This was a time during the trip where everyone offered to pay for gas! #wontHedoit
7. When we arrived at the McDonald’s and picked up her purse. Not one item was stolen!
There were so many life lessons learned about God and the way in which He loves me and cares for me through the cloudiness of this experience. God always knows when the “next exit” of life is AND if we rely on Him, He will get us safely to our destination! He can and will block other exits that we should not take – for our own good! That “blocked exit” may look like a closed door for a career opportunity, an engagement that does not result in marriage, or the short sale of a home that you have invested serious dollars into. When I fly, my favorite moment on the flight (especially if it is a cloudy or rainy day) is when the plane breaks through the clouds and begins to fly above them! It is breathtaking!
Although this trip ended with sleep deprivation, each one of us returned to Cincinnati with our hearts a little fuller and our faith a little higher. Remember, break through is just above the clouds. As a follower of Christ, I am learning to have faith in God’s provision and plan even when there’s ambiguity. Cloudiness isn’t all bad; it magnifies the clarity of God.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” – Romans 8:26-28 [MSG]