Mark 13:26
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”

Father God, were those Your clouds of glory
I saw as I rode last night?
I was not watching the sky as one who shall not sow,
Nor as one who shall not reap.
The clouds were far off in the distance,
Obscuring the sunset.
Light streaming forth bespoke Your beauty, Lord,
Rays of ruddy gold breaking between
The layers of cumulus far away.
Yes, I know now they were Your clouds,
Yet not the clouds of glory.

One day, dearest Lord, Your glory will shine like that,
But shine forth more brightly,
Breaking through all clouds and darkness,
Streaming upon the earth as a searchlight
To find Your children wherever they may be.
One day, all the earth shall see at once
And know that You alone are God.
For those who believe on Your Son,
It will be fulfillment, rapture, sweetness, reward.
For those who refuse Your Son, O Lord,
That day of the clouds of glory
Will be terror and truth and nakedness and sudden judgment.
For in the twinkling of an eye
You will welcome Your own,
And in an eternity of torment
You will condemn those not Your own.

Your Word, Father God, reminds me of those clouds,
Tall and mighty, full of fearful lightning,
Full of wonderful love.
Your Word goes before us by day and by night,
To guide our steps, to ease our way,
To bring us the life-giving water of the gospel.
Such sweet rain Your Word brings!
The rain that washes the world clean of sin,
The rain of Your justice and hope,
The rain that brings life to barren land,
And, yes, the rain of those drops of blood,
The life-giving flood
That was shed on the Cross.

Those clouds I saw last night
Were not the same ones I saw a week ago nor a year.
They were new and different,
Billowing and changing even as I watched.
They towered high and sheared away,
They layered and slipped sideways north and south.
And yet they always are there,
Even on the edge of the deserts,
Even above the ice packs of the poles.
For You have said that the seasons shall not end,
Not until the world is made again.
And so, all my days I shall see clouds,
Know that they are part of Your promise,
Part of Your plan, Your wisdom.
Change though they might,
Seasons bringing rain or snow or hail,
Your clouds are always there.

Somewhere out beyond my sight,
I am sure someone else saw a rainbow in those clouds,
And perhaps they remembered Your covenant with Noah.
Perhaps they saw those colors against the gray billows,
And they found hope.
For such is the nature of Your Word,
That when we remember it,
When we find ourselves thinking of Your prophets and Your people,
We push past the wormwood and gall of our lives,
And we find Your hope and Your mercy.
Though storm may advance with terrible lightning,
Though rain may wash away mountain and valley,
That rainbow breaks forth,
The confluence of water and light,
And we remember Your faithfulness.
Great, o so great, is Thy faithfulness!

Mine eyes have not yet seen the glory
Of the coming of the Lord,
And yet I have seen hints and whispers,
Glorious sunrises and sunsets,
Mighty lightnings and mountainous clouds.
In that spectacle, Lord God,
I behold Your beauty and majesty,
I behold Your power
And Your restraint.
For You could, as You have done before,
Unleash Your fury upon this land,
Scouring away the ungodly and blasphemers.
You could, as at Sodom,
Rain coals of fire from those clouds
Upon cities far gone with few righteous men left standing.
You could, as You did to Israel and Jerusalem,
Send Your terrible messenger with a sword
To rain plague and death upon an unrepentant land.
And yet, in Your abundant mercy,
You spare us.
You allow us to face trials,
You test our faithfulness,
You strengthen us through turmoil and chaos,
You allow Your rain to fall upon the just and the unjust alike.
And You wait,
Wait for the time to be fulfilled,
Wait for the proper alignment that You have ordained,
Wait for the sons of men to come to repentance.
For You, loving God, are not willing that any should perish.
And yet, holy Judge, some will perish.
Some will refuse to believe, refuse to repent,
Even when they have seen
The Lord coming on His clouds of glory.

Last night as I rode,
Your clouds were ever before me,
Ever off in the distance,
Far off like the promise of eternal life.
I saw them there,
Hanging twixt land and sky,
And I saw hope.
I saw sons and daughters coming together
To run joyously through
The rain of Your salvation.
I saw brothers and sisters in Christ,
Lifting their hands for the outpouring of Your Spirit.
I saw friends and enemies
Reconciled in the loving forgiveness
Of the perfect Lamb of God.
Yes, this I saw and more.
For such is Your nature, blessed Father,
That Your Word is more than just letters on a page,
More than the language of preachers and prophets,
More than songs of David and letters from Paul.
Your Word is written across all creation,
From the depths of the ocean to the unnumbered stars,
From the far horizon to the land beneath my feet,
From the glory of a sunrise to the warmth of a sunset,
From the hand that once held mine in love
To the hope I have to see her again.
Your Word and Your hope are there,
Written with broad and tiny strokes,
Written by Your careful hand,
With an announcement for all to see,
“Grace! Grace to it!”

Shall I see Your clouds of glory with these mortal eyes, Lord God?
Or shall I suddenly awake
From the sleep of death,
To find myself caught up with Your Son?
Will I know the sudden joy of turning from my work and toil
To see His return?
Or will I sleep,
My body resting, my soul with You,
And then be called to Him to see those clouds?
Don’t answer me, Lord,
Do not answer.
I will live in hope for now,
Live and dwell within Your present mercy,
Standing and walking, running and riding,
Beneath these common yet uncommon clouds.
I will wait upon You, O Lord,
And know that these cumulus and cirrus and stratus
Are but pale reflections
Of the glory that is to come.

Father God, do not withhold those clouds in my life.
Please, do not stop the storms and the thunder,
The wrack and wind and tearing sleet.
Do not prevent the downpour and the flood.
For by them, I know You better,
I learn my weakness and Your strength.
And after they have gone,
After the clouds no longer hide the sky from my view,
I see those clouds on the horizon,
Filtering the light of the sun You set over the earth,
And I see a hint of Your glory,
A taste of the light that will one day break forth on this world.
I see that distant nimbus
That turns the sunlight red and purple and gold,
And I know You are always near,
And that Your hope is never so distant from me.

Last night as I rode home,
That sunset trying to imitate Your light,
I knew that I would see You someday.
I will know You even as I also am known.
I will no longer see Your will and Your way
As in a mirror, as distorted by glass and refraction,
No longer hidden by clouds on the horizon.
No, in that day, Your light will stream forth
As the morning without clouds.
And I will know You at last,
And I will glorify You as I have never done before.

Yes, Lord God, those simple clouds made me think of You.
Thank You, Father, for the clouds.

– June 3rd, 2010
© 2010 Glenn A. Pettit-Noel

Click HERE for a printable PDF of this poem.

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