Training for Reigning - 19 - Clouds can have two sides

NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS to all readers of this chapter! - But before beginning my subject, let me make humble apology to the numerous correspondents whose good letters I have been unable to answer. They have been cheering and encouraging, and for every one of them I would thank the writers most heartily. It just hasn’t been possible to keep pace with any but those which tell of pressing problems - all of which require to be set before the Lord, with a waiting upon Him for His solutions. This takes much more time than to write notes expressing my own opinions
- which could be of no value to anyone. So, dear reader, if you should be one of the neglected ones, may I ask for your forgiveness and indulgence?
Another New Year! And how much we should like to be able to peer into the months which (if the Lord be not come) may lie ahead, to see what they will bring us, especially for numbers who are out of work, or who may be ill. Will unemployed ones get their jobs back? Sick ones recover? Will there be joy and success-or sorrow and loss? Indeed, one of our hard-to-accept lessons is that a life without sorrows aplenty would be disastrous. So determined are some of us to try to make our pleasurable dreams come true that anyone who may mention sorrow’s possibility suffers immediate rejection as a joy-killer - a "sad sack," as the slangsters say. Nevertheless, as Mary Dana declared:
"Clouds and darkness oft distress me;
Great and many are my foes;
Anxious cares and thoughts oppress me;
But my Father knows."
So, since many dear ones are beginning 1959 with clouds of anxiety, depression or grief hanging over them, let us consider them for a while.
There are many kinds of clouds, of course. Some are occasioned by unconfessed sin, or by disappointment, worry or resentment. Persecution, or suffering and sorrow cause others to come; and sometimes the deepest, darkest of all are those of doubt, or unbelief. But whatever their origin may be, they often shut out Heaven’s light, so making us easy marks for the Powers of darkness. Wise it will be, then, to seek to understand as much as may be possible about them, especially since every cloud may become A CLOUD OF REVELATION. In illustration of this, consider the Pillar of Cloud which went from leading Israel to stand behind them, between their camp and that of the Egyptians. For it was "a cloud and darkness" to their enemies, but also an out-shining of blessed light during the dark hours of Israel’s Red-Sea experience (Exodus 14: 19-20). THAT CLOUD WAS TWO DIFFERENT THINGS TO TWO DIFFERENT LOTS OF PEOPLE, and at the same time. The reason was most important: God was in that cloud! To the God-ignoring Egyptians it meant only darkness, difficulty, confusion, and more perplexing problems. But to the God-fearing, redeemed ones of Israel it glowed as a revelation of the overshadowing presence and protection of the Almighty, requiring of them only their trust and obedience for the fulfilment of its promise.
Now let me digress to outline two or three common kinds of clouds experienced by young Christians. Many years ago Elsie’s girl friend, Helen, met a youth who was attracted to her and asked for a date. Fearful of confessing Christ, she made excuses for refusing him. However, he was persistent; so she compromised, accepting his date if he would promise to come to the Gospel meeting with her. He agreed. She did not enjoy her evening out, and had a bad conscience about it, but succeeded in convincing herself she had done it for his good, hoping he might get saved. Car rides and other dates followed, for Helen found it harder and harder to refuse him. Then one night he professed to get saved. Helen was overjoyed; but when, soon after, he started to get "serious" she realized she hadn’t counted on that, for she was still in high school. Of course she had been faithfully warned that her path had been taken in denial of the Lordship of Christ; but young people seldom respect the counsel of their elders. They usually feel that no one can understand their affairs so well as they, themselves. Well, Elsie, convinced that Helen had done well in getting the boy-friend out to meetings, followed her example. Didn’t the boy-friend profess salvation? And didn’t that show that the older Christians had been all wrong? So, completely forgetting 1 Samuel 2: 30, she began her own romancing. Results: Helen married the boy-friend (who promptly threw up his profession) finding out too late that she had earned herself a cloud which was destined to last until he died many years later. And fun-loving Elsie had to be "read out of the meeting," to carry her own special cloud for the rest of her days. Both of them found out that when God uttered the last half of 1 Samuel 2:30 He meant what He said!
Jim’s story was quite different. Before conversion he had been leader of his gang; but so soon as he sought to take his stand as a Christian, the fellows began to give him a hard time. Clouds of Reproach and Persecution darkened his life for many days. But little by little (Deuteronomy 7: 17-22) they withdrew from him; for not wanting Jim’s Saviour, neither did they desire the company of His child: Then one day his clouds lit up with the very light of Heaven. No longer dark and threatening, he read in them a glorious promise. Read Matthew 5: 11-12, and you will see why.
Elihu, you may remember, counselled Job to take a second look at his black clouds (Job 37: 21); for in spite of his youth, he had learned that the sun never ceases its shining. The clouds only make it appear to be so. This thought brings me to Bill’s case, who was out of work - again. By nature a chronic worrier, the Lord turned his attention to Colossians 3:24b: "Ye serve the Lord Christ." Taking it to himself literally, he realized he wasn’t out of work at all, since his Master was still in business. He then made it his practice to report to the Lord for work every morning. Having prayed, he would wait quietly before Him for instruction. Sometimes his thoughts were turned to tract distribution, as his job for that day. At times they were directed to the need for help at home, or for other people. But always His Heavenly Master (Matthew 23: 10) had work for him to do. And quite as realistically did Bill expect Him to supply his daily needs. And He did, never once failing him. True it is that for three days’ work he once was paid with a bag of woody turnips. Yet, since the Lord was his Master, this mattered little. It only meant the Lord would supply his needs in other ways - see what I mean? Thus Bill’s dark clouds became reflectors of Heavenly light when he believed, and dared to act upon, their revelation to him of Colossians 3: 24b.