Empty Clouds
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Thunder rumbled in the distance. Dark clouds floated along the horizon, inching toward me. Someone was getting rain. An hour later, the sky cleared. The rain had bypassed us once again.

After a prolonged dry season, sunny south Florida needs rain. Not the tease of a drizzle, but the deluge of a downpour. Precipitation that soaks deep into the soil instead of rivulets running off parched surfaces to collect in curbside puddles.

The weather report warns of a 10 – 20% chance of rain on a regular basis, but the dry season isn’t ready to release its grip. Irrigation systems sprinkle much-needed water across dry lawns, offering the proverbial drop-in-the-bucket until the empty clouds are no longer void.

There’s another kind of empty cloud. The Bible likens ungodly people to “clouds without rain” and trees that are fruitless and uprooted (Jude 1:12). People who only care for themselves, who pretend to be something they’re not.

I know people like that. People who have let me down when I needed them. Co-workers who pretended to work with me while furthering their own ambitions. Friends who betrayed the foundation of friendship for the sake of convenience.

I’m ashamed to say there have been times in my own life when others used these same phrases to describe me. When my behavior was more like an ungodly person than the Christian I claimed to be. When nurturing my own hurts was more important than forgiving the offender.

But each day brings the opportunity to start anew. To surrender to the lordship of Christ and deny my baser instincts. To follow His Word rather than my natural inclinations. To grow more like Christ and become all that He created me to be by the power of His Holy Spirit. To be less like the empty cloud and fruitless tree in Jude and more like the fruitful tree in Psalm 1:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

 

Is that the patter of raindrops I hear on the roof? I hope so.

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