Many of you know that I love taking pictures of our pretty Kansas sky. My favorite place to take those pictures is from the window in one of our upstairs bedrooms. This bedroom will always be, to us, Andrea’s room – even though she moved from home several years ago. When I see a particularly pretty sky I will run upstairs, open the window and lift the screen, and fire away with my phone camera.
As I look back on these pictures, I find that no two are the same. Absolutely every shot of our sky, on every day that I took those shots, is entirely different……if there are clouds involved, that is. I don’t usually take pictures of a totally blue sky, though blue skies are nice. But after a while, completely blue skies would be a little boring.
Sometimes the pictures are simply beautiful, like the one I snapped last night. Isn’t this just breathtaking?
Some inspire awe, like this one.
Sometimes I see life.
Other times the seasons show themselves.
This one view, from the same windows…..the same vantage point……is anything from being the same, day by day.
It’s a lot like my circumstances in life……like yours, too, I’m sure. Our circumstances change, sometimes often and other times less frequently. At times the changes are dramatic. Other times the changes come subtly, but they come regardless.
Our circumstances may be pleasant, and some of the changes we go through can be happy and pleasant as well.
But other circumstances are painful or shocking, involving deep hurt……fear……dread.
Last week I found out about two friends who were just diagnosed with cancer. And I took another friend for some testing after an X-Ray showed something suspicious. We are still awaiting her results. Some have already received disturbing news…..others are still waiting, with dread, on what may be.
My circumstances……my surroundings……can on one day fill me with peace and on the next day fill me with worry. It’s like my view of our sky from the upstairs windows. Sometimes peaceful…..
I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus. Moses certainly experienced a variety of circumstances in his life……plenty of high’s and low’s. From a basket in the bulrushes to the palace. From the palace to the desert. From shepherding sheep to leading a nation. From the parting of the Red Sea to the grumbling of that unhappy nation. From speaking to God on the mountain to confronting idol worship at the foot of the mountain. From obedience to anger.
After the Israelites had given up on Moses and turned to worshipping the golden calf, Moses and God both were pretty angry. Moses went back to God after things settled down a bit and he prayed. He said, “God, let me know your ways that I may know you….”
God’s answer? “And He said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
God’s presence is all that His people needed……and it’s all that you and I need. He’s promised to be with us, and He’s promised to give His children rest.
Two things I’ve learned in the years that I have lived. First, don’t look to my surroundings for rest…..even in the good times. When life is going well, with sunny skies and soothing views ahead, those things should not be the source of my rest and peace. I’m thankful when life is pleasant, but pleasantness is not the source of rest. Only God is to be my strength and my peace. Knowing Him and depending on Him, following Him and trusting Him, is still the number one thing I need to do when the skies are sunny and beautiful.
Second, I’ve learned to also not let my surroundings…..my circumstances……pull me down and rob me of rest. This happens so easily when skies are stormy and life is stressful. Bad news…..stressful relationships……more bills than we have money……wayward children…… We all know what it’s like. Life is full of the hard times, unfortunately, and they often happen suddenly. At other times we live under the stresses day after day as they gradually take their toll. But still, the rough times are to be a time of rest……..and they can be if we know the same God that Moses knew.
For God’s promise to Moses is our promise as well: “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
Remember I said that pictures of blue skies would get boring? I love blue skies, but honestly the best pictures occur when clouds are present.
So it is with us. I believe the best lessons are learned when we have some clouds in our lives. Deeper trust and greater joy have been my experience during the stormier times of life.
Those clouds also bring a more intimate walk with God, full of so much beauty. Hopefully I can reflect Him more as I walk closer beside Him.
And I can rest. I don’t know today how God will give me rest, but He has said He will and I believe Him.
Rest, and enjoy the view, because with God life is stunning.