Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clouds in the east

One late-summer day in Phoenix, Arizona, where it gets very hot, I’d taken my mother to the air-conditioned mall. I left her and the purchases in her wheelchair inside the coolness, took out my sunglasses and car keys, and inhaled a deep draft of chilled air before charging through the blast-furnace to my parking space. But a monsoon storm and its cool downdraft had swept in from the east while we’d been shopping, and the temperature had dropped 30 degrees. I got Mom loaded in comfortably. Another summer, after a seven-month drought, we had a monsoon thunderstorm that brought torrents of rain. Cars stopped on busy Thomas Road, and people got out to dance for joy, reveling in the refreshing drops.

About this time of year, I feel cranky. I really, really need a vacation! East Coast leaves are turning color, and they winterize the garden for spring. Department stores have nothing but sweaters and knit caps. But here, I want the hot, smoggy, endless summer to be finished! It’s still 140 degrees in my car when I leave for lunch, and my lawn looks like stubble. At the fast-paced office, I’m working the multiple, overlapping deadlines for major projects that must be accomplished well before Christmas.

It’s dry and dusty, and everything is hot to the touch. It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for Jesus to come, and many signs seem to point to His imminent return, but where’s that miraculous cloud in the east? (Most storms, riding the jet stream and prevailing winds, come from the west.) “Where is He?” we demand impatiently.

The answer is that He’s with us always (Matthew 28:20), and nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39). Until He comes, when we need His pillar of cloud by day, He protects us from sunburn and heat stroke. When we are stressed, we need to take our sabbath-rest (every day, especially today) in Him, by casting our troubles at His feet.

The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest. Hebrews 4:9-11 MSG

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