Hidden in the clouds?

Isaiah-55-9The rain drummed steadily on the wings of the aircraft while we taxied to the runway.  There was no sun visible under the dark gray sky. Moments later, after being carried above the cloudy ceiling by that magical machine, my face was bathed in the bright sunlight that came through the small window on my left. The sun never left its place in the solar system and I never doubted that it did! It was shining all the while. I just could not see it when I stood under the overcast sky.

That came to mind on Sunday as our worship team led us in that beautiful anthem of faith – “Good, Good Father.”  We affirmed our hope in His goodness, singing this line – ‘You are perfect in all of Your ways.’  I was not rapt with joy, however. Instead, my eyes were wet with tears, my heart in turmoil with grief.  With my hands lifted to Him in surrendered worship, I prayed “Lord, I want to believe that You are a good Father, perfect in all of Your ways, but my wife was taken from me, her life ended far too soon from where I stand. It does not seem to me that Your ways are perfect.”  My prayer was not bitter, but a cry for deeper faith.

And, then I thought of standing in the rain, under dark clouds, knowing all the while that the sun continues to shine brightly.  My heart’s grief was not instantly erased. I am still torn but my choice is to trust – even when I cannot see the Son’s face shining on me. Someday He will lift me up above the clouds and I will, I believe, discover in that moment the ‘whys’ of His ways that I cannot know right now.

Isaiah, moved by the Spirit, wrote the words of God to the broken people whose Temple lay in ruins, whose future was apparently gone.  The 55th chapter offers promise and invites faith. Look! “Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-9, NLT) And what is the result of this kind of faith that pursues the purposes of God? “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!” (Isaiah 55:12, NLT)

Let us remember that even Jesus was conflicted! In the Garden as He prayed, He struggled to embrace the goodness of His Father, crying intensely, so stressed that He sweat droplets of blood. As He hung on the Cross, suffering not just terrible pain in His body but anguish in His soul, the words “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” poured from His lips.  Had God really disappeared? No, but in that moment Jesus felt the separation from the Father that all who sin know. He became sin for us, that we might know peace with God. When we struggle to live with faith, when it seems that the Lord has left us, we can look at that moment and know that we are reconciled to our Father, secure in His favor because the Savior made a way for us to go Home to His embrace.

Look to Jesus! Hope in Him! Hold onto His gift of life!

One last thought today.  Sunday afternoon, as the news of the mass murder in Orlando spilled all over us, splashing us with fear, with grief, with pain – many asked if God had forsaken us. Why would He allow such horror?  I cannot fully answer that today. What I do know is that the sun is still shining behind the clouds that sin spreads over this present world. Philosophers work mightily to offer a reasonable answer for the absurdity of evil. Some choose to deny that God exists, leaving us to be little gods desperately attempting to manage our world. Others wrongly conclude that God is less than we had hoped, unable to control the world He created. I wait to see the Son shine again.

The salvation of the Lord is complete for me, though not yet fully realized in my present existence. Evil still stalks, the Devil still destroys, but we trust in the Name of the Lord. In the words of the Apocalypse of John we discover that God will reign on the earth, that His kingdom will come, and that all our questions will find answers. So we pray, may Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Take hope from these words that promise the fulfillment of the hope of all the ages.
“Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder: Hallelujah! The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong! Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen. The linen is the righteousness of the saints. 

 Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:6-8, 11-16, The Message)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come!

____________

I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

 You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

 I’ve seen many searching for answers
Far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers
Only You provide
Because You know just what we need
Before we say a word

 You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

 Love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love love love

 You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

Good, Good Father
Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett
© 2014 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Common Hymnal Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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