When I was a girl growing up in Texas, I was smitten with the sky. There’s something about the huge expanse of a Texas sky that swells my heart with the bigness of God.
So much of the year in Texas the sky is a beautiful blue, dotted with puffy white clouds. I remember going outside in the summer, laying on my back in fresh-cut grass and looking up at the clouds. My brother and sister would lay there beside me and we laughed and giggled together as we found silly shapes in the clouds. Such sweet memories!
Have you ever done that? Looked up into a summer sky and seen fun things in the clouds?
Or a heart?
There’s something about the human brain determined to find the familiar in the strangest places. Even in water molecules collected around dust particles in the expanse between heaven and earth.
The technical term is pareidolia. You can look it up sometime and you’ll find a totally unromantic definition of a psychological phenomena related to evolution and needing to distinguish friend from foe.
I personally think God imprinted our hearts with an ability to recognize him in the strangest places – an echo of the whole “eternity in their hearts” thing (Ecclesiastes 3). It is a gift to recognize the hand of God at work in the midst of dark storms.
There is something unique in humans, who were created in the very image of God, that we can see patterns in chaos, shapes in random formations, and meaning in the midst of grief. There is a certain confidence that comes from expecting to see God at work. The junction of longing and expectation is hope – and it should direct our hearts to worship God.
But we live in a fallen world, don’t we? A fallen world where people buy t-shirts with the picture of a grilled cheese sandwich that looks like the Virgin Mary, or where a group of people worship the Monkey God because of a tree trunk that looks like a monkey.
These distortions are evidence of how we were made: to see the divine and to worship it. Problems arise when we fail to recognize and worship God. We begin to worship the clouds rather than the Creator of the clouds.
It is an ancient problem.
- We should look at the sun and understand the Father of Lights with whom there is no shifting shadow (James 1:16-18), but instead we worship the Sun God.
- We should see sweet, undefiled communion in marital intimacy, but instead we worship the act and sacrifice relationships on the altar of physical pleasure.
- Our marriages should show strength in the sacrificial headship of Christ and grace-filled submission of his church, but we worship our “needs” and “rights” as we grapple for power and demand sacrifice from our spouse.
- Our parenting should paint a picture of the wholehearted submission of the Son to his Father – and the holiness and goodness of a Father who chooses what is best, if not always pleasant. It should draw our children, and others who watch us as we live, into worship of the Father. Instead we alternately worship our authority or abdicate it altogether.
Once I was a girl who looked into the sky with wonder and saw all kinds of familiar things in the clouds – and I laughed and giggled. You know what I never saw? I never saw the dust particles and water droplets.
Today I realized the clouds have come down to earth, and I often fail to recognize the familiar – the way fog often obscures our vision. But my life – how I do life anyway – is a cloud. And as I look at it, I wonder if I see the familiar hand of God or if I am caught in a fog? Am I drawn to worship God or myself?
As others look at me, do they worship me – WonderMom of seven, pastor’s wife, writer, speaker, homeschool teacher, mentor, mathematician/physicist – or do they worship God who uses even a dust particle like me to reveal his character through the water droplets of ministering, wife-ing, mothering, writing, organizing…?
What about you? What do you see in the clouds? And does it cause you to worship God or something else?