So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night. (Ex. 40:38)

Living in Indiana, we can see a storm coming from miles away. Across miles of flat, open farmland, ominous black clouds roll across the fields, moving forward like an impenetrable wall. As it moves in our direction, we know it will arrive with intense wind, rain, and perhaps even hail. Sometimes the storms turn more severe. I’ve learned to have a healthy respect for such clouds, because I have witnessed the power behind them.

On one hand, clouds can be so pleasant—puffy, wispy layers of white moving calmly in a blue summer sky. But clouds can also harness some pretty major power, being able to change the weather in the matter of minutes.

In this passage, we see God arriving at his newly built tabernacle in none other than a cloud. I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of cloud it was. Did it come down like a cotton ball from on high, or with fury and lightning?

I’ve never known God’s presence to come in the clouds outside my kitchen window. But I can think of no better way to understand his presence. Like the clouds, God is—in the same moment—both approachable and familiar, mysterious and respected. In him, justice and compassion and peace exist in harmony. His presence isn’t either/or. It is, “I am.” And he invites us to draw near.

Know that God is near.

Sarah E. Westfall resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband Ben and their four boys. She really wants a nap.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.