Driving down country road toward home, Mr. Teenager says to me:
“You should blog about clouds.”
Sky is thick full of clouds commanding notice—billowy, dark and white clouds juxtaposed on cornflower-blue.
“Really? What do you see in the clouds?” I ask.
Matter-of-factly, Mr. Teenager teaches.“Well, see those black clouds? Those are like sin—full and ready to pour down. And see those bright clouds? Those are like repentance—when we ask God to forgive us and clean us white. And then we shine.”
“Yes! I see. They remind me of the sermon Sunday. Remember when Pastor said that sin is contagious but holiness isn’t? Sin comes easy. Holiness is hard won. What does that mean to you?”
“It means that I should be careful about the movies I watch and the games I play if I love God.”
“Cuz it’s easy to catch whatever bad is in movies and games—like catching a cold.”
“Yeah. You’re right. I think it’s that and more. What about bad attitudes floating around, clouding our minds? What about things we know aren’t good but we see others doing? What about things we don’t even realize are bad because so many think the same thoughts and do the same things?”
“It’s going to rain, sooner or later. Look at those clouds. They’re ready to bust. I think it’s going to rain hard.”
Fourteen year olds. Bright, white vapor puffs. Dark, ominous super cells. Is my dear son being prophetic? I’m listening hard.
It’s going to rain, sooner or later, he says. Look at those clouds. They’re ready to bust.
The sky speaks and I listen. But when God speaks? I wonder.
How do we respond to dark and light these days? Do we scoff at God as He is, as He expects us to be—holy? Or do we commit with our mouths but cull with our hearts?
God speaks to hearts divided.
These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Isaiah 29:13)
God wants us to be wholly His, meaning we must become holy. Wholly undivided. Wholly in His presence—the Refining Fire who burns away dross. When my heart wants dark, God’s heart breaks. When I try to blend soul-black with God-white, when I choose to dance with shadows, I refuse His light. I reject Him.
I send Him to the cross. I nail His hands and feet to wood with my rebellious, hard-hearted sin hammer.
I watch Him bleed to cover me. I watch Him suffocate so I might breathe. I watch Him die to let me live.
For stubborn, rebellious, compromising, rejecting, murderous, self-embracing Me.
Life Source slain. Death dark embraced because I want compromise—God’s light and my dark, not yet consumed. But . . .
God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5-7)
We mix black and white and get gray. But we cannot mix self-made gods with True God and get anything other than black. Pure light equals absence of all dark. Do I want pure God? Or do I prefer my shadow world of mixed-up gray? At times, sadly, I do.
I confess, Lord, sometimes I do! Self does not die easy and mine screams loud! Mine clings hard, fingers clenched red.
Sinner. Oh, how offensive that Self-slapping word! Yet, I am.
i am a sinner. Does mind scream, heart pound? Does rebel soul raise battle sound?
Yes, i am a sinner saved. Jesus’ blood—perfect payment for justice required. And I am free—set free to become all God intends me to be.
Only Holy God grants bound soul freedom. Only Holy God dovetails divided heart.
We have been deceived to believe we can have both—one foot firmly planted in the world which shakes defiant fist or dismissive hand at holy God while coddling guilty conscience with kind words or deeds delivered in the name of love self-defined.
Do we really want God as He is—all of God? Do we want God’s shower of presence that saturates and soothes our cracked dry and weary souls?
Do we want Him enough to want holiness?
Our God is a jealous God—jealous for hearts who love Him and desire to be like Him—holy. (Deuteronomy 4:24; Joshua 24:19). He does not change from generation to generation. (Malachi 3:6) He does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
How often we compromise holiness in order to have human-ness. Social creatures we are. We are tempted to embrace mass opinion, side-lining God—what He thinks, how He feels. We take His holy Word and twist it into unrecognizable shapes, contorting His holiness to fit our flesh. And we call it good. We make up what we think God thinks. We make up what we feel God feels. And we all think we’re right.
Depravity abounds and holiness hides, blushing in the wings. But Depravity never blushes. Brazen, Depravity consumes and wants more—never satisfied. The soul addicted falls deeper into shocking pits of hell while the resident demons laugh. Bit by bit—drip by drip—their poisoned tongues lure with sweetness. And we drink because so many drink. Surely we won’t die, we hear in the ancient recess of communal soul. Doors swing wide inviting all to come and enjoy the banquet table set ages ago.
We enter. We sit. We dine. We drink.
We choose this over Him? We choose Death over Life? We choose. We always choose.
Until gate swings closed, slams shut, and we realize there is no handle, no exit. Bound, we are. Banquet delicacies deplete with no replenishing. And the demons screech.
“Right where we want you!” their vile voices shout.
We are bound now. How well we were lured! Just like C.S. Lewis’ Edmund who only wanted a taste of Turkish Delight—just a taste! Bound.
Is this child’s play, a game of Dark and Light? Can we laugh lightly, play recklessly, and win?
Dark clouds or white?
This is no game. This is life-or-death war. Thankfully, Jesus went before us. He defeated death. He defeated the cross. He came up against the gates of the hell-bound and tore them down. He raised us out of death-stench decay and paved our way back to holiness—back to true life with God. The victory is sure but the battles rage on.
The pursuit of holiness is hard. Each step forward is fueled with humility and submission to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They fight with us and for us. Each step backward is fueled by pride, the root of all sin. On that battleground, we fight alone.
The pursuit of victory is the pursuit of God. The pursuit of God is the pursuit of holiness. They can never be severed. Self does not humble easy, but once down, in proper position, the restless soul finds true rest at last.
And we reach beyond and see, unveiled,
the holy face of God.
Oh my soul, wave the white flag of surrender! Oh my God, melt my clouds of sin with your holy fire. Purify my heart and blow into my soul a desire for holiness—a holy desire for You–that I might shine with the light of Your glory. Take my hand and lead me beyond the clouds into Your holy presence of unobstructed light where I may gaze upon Your beauty forever. Amen.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8