Never Ever Alone! Why I am a Christian, part 4


The smiling cloud

"(Jesus said) A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." (John 16:32, NIV2)

Jesus was never alone. His Father was constantly with him, and He made certain we would never be alone either: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt 28:20b, NIV2)

This message is all over the Bible: "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go . . ." (Gen 28:15a, NIV2) and "Do not be afraid, for I am with you . . ." (Isa 43:5a, NIV2)

We do not have to worry about anything, as long as we shimmer in the presence of our Heavenly Father, who is actively present in our lives. In trouble? Ask for His help. His response? "'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.'" (Ps 91:4,5 NIV)

We truly are covered by His presence, so much so that He compares our relationship with Him as: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalms 91, 4 NIV)

Let me illustrate this with two personal interactions with my Father.

1. "The Smiling Cloud"

Two years ago, I truly experienced what is known as the "empty-nest syndrome". For the first time of my life, both my sons were away from home, one attending university and the other attending seminary on the other side of our huge country. Gone were the days of seeing their ready smiles. Now I would only get to see them for a few days every year.

As this was my youngest's first solo flight into no-man's land, my wife decided to accompany him. Now, I completely supported this idea; still, I found myself completely alone at home. The "empty-nest syndrome" became way too vivid, and it didn't take me long to fall into self-pity.

Still, during this time of duress and loneliness, my Heavenly Dad came through big time. I remember one afternoon, just when I was completely demoralized, I looked through my bedroom window and was greeted by a smiling cloud.

A smiling cloud???

I couldn't believe my eyes. I had never seen such a thing before, and deep down, I felt my Dad's presence, reassuring me with this "smile", hand-crafted by Him for me alone, that He was with me.

Wow! I found myself filled with adrenaline. Rushing downstairs, I took a couple pictures of the cloud. After all, no one would believe what I had experienced! I eventually enlarged one of the pictures, and it now hangs in my living room. Whenever I feel I am down for some reason, I look at it, and I cannot help but smile, for my Father is with me.

God didn't stop by only blessing me with a smiling cloud, however. On my daily 4K walk, I met people who not only nodded at me as usual, but also smiled brightly at me. Not one or two, but many of them. It's as if they knew what I was going through and were there to brighten my day. We have no idea how powerful smiles truly are. These filled me with hope and love, for I knew my Heavenly Dad was making this possible." (See http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon36/Smiling%20Cloud.htm )

2. "Lost in St. John"

Our most memorable "get lost" event in St. John, New Brunswick is when we were attempting to return to our camp after visiting the Reversing Falls-a phenomenon that occurs where the Saint John River empties into the Bay of Fundy and is only made possible by the magnitude of the Fundy tides. We had struggled manfully (or womanfully, as my wife was driving!) Through the maze of roads; but the streets of Saint John weren't cooperating. You see, the street names and city indications didn't match what we found on our map, and we soon found ourselves utterly lost. Again. Only this time it was in a lugubrious section of town! The houses that weren't completely falling apart had their windows and doors boarded up, and other than the homeless who were wandering the streets, there was no other soul to be seen. It seemed that the more we tried to figure it out, the more we found ourselves lost in the grip of this grim side of town.

Once again we pulled over to the side of the road, and our now well-used city map again appeared spread out over the dash board as we tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out just WHERE we were. A few prayers were raised heavenward, for after having had plenty of practice at getting lost that day, we personally knew the nervous breakdown that was awaiting us.

All of sudden, a city bus appeared from around the corner, slowed down and stopped right beside us.

"Oh great!" Thought my wife as she dutifully rolled down the window. "Am I parked in front of the bus stop?" She called up to the driver, fully expecting to be yelled at.

To our amazement, the driver was smiling. "No," he answered in a pleasant tone of voice. "Just thought you might need some help. Are you lost?"

"How did you know?" Asked my wife, still in shock that a bus driver, on duty even, would care about a vanload of tourists.

"I saw your Ontario plates and your map," he said with a grin. "Besides, anyone finding themselves in THIS part of town MUST be lost! Where are you heading?"

We explained where we were going, and he told us to follow him. We did, and he led us to the next bus stop where he got out of his bus, came back to our van, and proceeded to shed some much-needed light on our map. He then told us that he drove a Toyota too, and he always had a soft place in his heart for fellow Toyota drivers. We were left wondering, however, if he didn't have a variety of cars at home, and if he didn't have a soft place in his heart for drivers of ALL makes and models! In any case, he made us feel that we were the highlight of his day, and his huge smile made us feel welcome in a city that, up until then, hadn't seemed to greet us with open arms. (see http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon12/lost_in_saint_john.htm "

There are so many other experiences I could share with you to show how real God is in our daily lives; but if I did so, this devotional would be beyond a thousand pages. We truly are never alone as God's love fills us up. Wow!

If you want to experience this, come to our Heavenly Father and ask Him genuinely to experience Him fully. You will be astonished!

Lonely or lost? God will come through!

Rob Chaffart

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