God is in the cloud
We like to solve mysteries, but God is not a mystery to be solved. In the Bible the Presence of God is often described as the cloud. God led the Israelites through the desert as a “pillar of cloud” by day. When he talked to Moses, God descended in a cloud on Mount Sinai or at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When the temple was dedicated, the glory of the Lord filled it as a cloud. And God descended as a cloud on that high mountain where Jesus was transfigured.
The cloud symbolizes the mystery, the unknown, and in some ways the very essence of God. We want our skies to clear so we can see God better. But God is in the cloud. We want to clarify and bring order and understanding. We come up with theology and stances and are urged to stand firm in our beliefs. But God is not in our beliefs. God is in the cloud. We build structure and follow rules. We memorize verses and go to Bible study and make sure we’re all on the same page. But God doesn’t live in our Bibles. God lives in the cloud. We wrap our Christianity in messages and disciplines, in obedience to rules and creeds. We set parameters and strive for no doubt, for absolute certainty. We demand adherence and unflinching faithfulness to tenets and stances as proof of our connection to God. But God is not in our disciplines or rules or stances. God is in the cloud.
God was in the cloud in the desert, in the cloud on Mount Sinai, in the cloud at the Transfiguration. And yet we have such a hard time abiding in that cloud. We want clarity from God and demand certainty in each other. We develop theology and use it as a litmus test against one another. Faith and doubt are set up as rivals. Our faith is defined as an unflinching devotion to a Book when it’s meant to be a trust that walks with God in the cloud. We’re telling each other to hold on to the wrong thing. We grasp for a Book when we should be holding a Hand.
We try to nail each other down to a set of beliefs, when the only nails we’ve ever needed held Jesus on the cross.
We want our beliefs frozen in inerrancy. We drive our stake into the solid ground of one interpretation. We dig in. We take our stand. But Jesus keeps walking. He said,
Come, follow me.
Jesus continues to walk.
We want so badly for the mist to clear, for the fog to lift so we can see, but God is in the cloud. When the mist clears, when the fog lifts, and I can see clearly, that’s when I know I’m screwed because God is in the cloud. That’s when I’m most lost, more lost than ever.
So I’m learning to appreciate the clouds of life, for that’s when God is most near. I’m learning to keep following Jesus, because he’s gonna keep walking. I’m becoming less determined to solve the mystery and more determined to live it. I’m less determined to find that little plot of land where I can grow old, because Jesus is a nomad. And I’ll carry my rain gear as I follow Jesus, because God is in the cloud.
Exodus 13:21. Exodus 24:16. Exodus 33:9. 2 Chronicles 5:13,14. Mark 9:2. Matthew 4:19.