Thursdays With Oswald—Why Does God Bring Clouds?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Why Does God Bring Clouds?

     It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. In every cloud He brings, God wants us to un-learn something. God’s purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child. God uses every cloud which comes in our physical life, in our moral or spiritual life, or in our circumstances, to bring us nearer to Him, until we come to the place where our Lord Jesus Christ lived, and we do not allow our hearts to be troubled. 

     Christianity does not add to our difficulties, it brings them to a focus, and in the difficulties we find Jesus Himself. We must get out of the habit of misinterpreting God by saying He wants to teach us something, it is not a New Testament idea, but an idea that is as unlike the God whom Jesus revealed as could be. God is all the time bringing us to the place where we un-learn things. … In everything that happens we should be un-learning that which keeps us from a simple relationship to God. … 

     There are no such things as “calamities” or “accidents” to God’s children—“all things work together for good.” 

From God’s Workmanship

Futurist Alvin Toffler wrote that the illiterate of this age are those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. God wants to do the same thing for us. God doesn’t want us to be spiritually illiterate, so there are times to learn and times to un-learn.

The next time you are going through some clouds in your spiritual walk, pause to ask the Holy Spirit, “What do I need to un-learn from this?” And then follow through on what He shows you.

Responding To The Voice

FlatlandIn 1880, Edwin A. Abbott wrote Flatland, a book that would later become a favorite of Albert Einstein. Abbott was a college-trained mathematician and a theologian; in fact he was actually better known for his theological writings than for Flatland. Later on Einstein would say that “things should be made as simple as possible, not simpler.” In other words, don’t dumb-down the concept, but state it on a level where more people can grasp it. That’s why, I believe, Einstein loved Flatland.

Flatland is told through the eyes of Square, a two-dimensional shape that lives in Flatland. Square has length and width, but no height. So the inhabitants of Flatland can move back-and-forth, and side-to-side, but not up-and-down. To get an idea of this, put your eye right on the level of a tabletop, and look at an item on the table. Imagine you can only see what is touching the tabletop (but nothing that rises any higher or lower than that), and you will get an idea of Square’s two-dimensional world.

One day Sphere visits Flatland. Sphere is three-dimensional, so he can move up-and-down. This means that Square can only see the part of Sphere that happens to be in his line of sight at that immediate moment. So he sees just a “slice” or “layer” of Sphere as Sphere moves through Flatland. Sometimes Sphere is nothing more than a disembodied voice when he is hovering above Flatland.

This gives us a little bit of an idea of how we perceive God. He exists in dimensions that we cannot fully comprehend, so we only see “slices” of Him as He passes though our line of sight. Sometimes He is just a disembodied Voice—or as the Bible calls Him, the Word of God.

But the Word of God compressed Himself into our dimension (John 1:14). All of the fullness—all of the other-dimension-ness—of His omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience came to our “level” in the Person of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:6-7). The Word was the complete and total fullness of God (John 1:1-3; Colossians 2:9). But unlike Square who couldn’t fully know Sphere, God is fully knowable in The Word… in Jesus Christ!

The question is: What are you going to do with The Word? The Word of God (the Bible) allows us to fully know The Word of God (Jesus). But we need to be willing to let the Holy Spirit strip away our puny, smaller-dimensioned, finite thinking of God.

Alvin TofflerAlvin Toffler wrote, “The illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

I would modify this to say, “Those illiterate of The Word (Jesus) are not those who cannot read The Word (the Bible), but those who won’t let the Holy Spirit help them learn, unlearn, and relearn who God is.” 

There is so much more to learn about The Word (Jesus), so let the Holy Spirit guide you in your reading of The Word (the Bible). I pray as Paul did that you will begin to experience more of the multi-dimensional-ness of God as revealed in The Word—

I pray that out of God’s glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Next Sunday I’ll be continuing my series called Who Is Jesus? I hope you can join me!


Alvin Toffler wrote, “The illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” For me, the Sabbath Day—a day God institute as a break from our day-in-day-out routine—is the best day to do this (re)(un)learning.

I took an unusual Sabbath break this weekend. Several of my family members are missionaries, and it is rare that they are all in the United States at the same time. This summer happens to be one of those times, so we took full advantage of catching up and relearning one another.

We all met at my grandparents’ old farmhouse in southern Ohio. Grandpa died in 1984, and Grandma died just a few years ago, but their legacies are alive and well. In no particular order, here are a few things I (re)(un)learned this weekend…

  • Nehemiah was an extraordinary leader that I want to emulate.
  • My daughter is a persistent and naturally-talented horse rider.
  • Every time my extended family gets together I learning something new about their past… and my past.
  • I love my family heritage!
  • It was so cool watching all the boys play the same games in the barns that I used to play as a boy!
  • Sleeping in the same room with Betsy but in a separate bed makes for a lousy night of sleep. The closer I am to my best friend, the better I sleep.
  • Eating meals with 15 people around the table forced me to listen more intently to the one who was talking. Why don’t I do this all the time?
  • One should not play American football, rugby, ultimate Frisbee and soccer (world football) on the same day without a good supply of Motrin handy.
  • Bradford, Ohio, is just as I remembered it as a kid. So is my grandparents’ farm.
  • My puppy only had to get shocked once by the electric fence to learn her lesson. Sometimes it takes me more zaps!
  • I missed my new church family this weekend!
  • Fireside chats are one of the best places to really get to know someone better. And a great place to reveal my own heart more intimately.
  • I need to keep my camera close as there is so much that I want to document and preserve for my kids and grandkids.
  • These kinds of weekends should be more regular in my annual calendar.
  • Sitting on the couch snuggling with Betsy is the best wrap-up to any weekend.

Did you (re)(un)learn anything on your Sabbath? Whether or not you did any (re)(un)learning last week, today is the start of a brand new week. Let’s make it a goal to (re)(un)learn something this week, and use our next Sabbath to reflect on it.

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