Several times this past summer I revived a cherished pastime from childhood—cloud watching. Sweet memories, those lingering afternoons of youth spent staring up at the beautiful drifting clouds, all the while discovering untold shapes of anything imaginable.

One day in particular I was relaxing in a favorite lawn chair from where I observed a spectacular sequence of such formations—a cow, Mickey Mouse, an onion (some clouds are better performers than others). As I sat there inwardly thanking God for the beauty of His creation, after a time I began to notice a small blurry spot in the periphery of my vision. When I turned my focus to that spot I realized it was simply what the optometrists call, a floater—essentially sun damage to the lens of the eye. I’m told it’s more of a nuisance than anything else. You bet it is! Several times I tried to get back to my cloud watching, but couldn’t get my mind off of that pesky, dancing, unholy floater now intent on ruining my peaceful pursuit. I called it a day.

Hard worker that I am, the next day I went back outside and gazed cloud-ward. Right away a large cumulous formation morphed into a giant castle. Then I remembered the floater from the day before and instantly it popped its ugly self back into my view. As I cursed it to its face, the realization hit me: I’m not sane. No that wasn’t it; this was: I can look at the cloud or at the floater, but not both at the same time. What I see depends on me.

That was a long ramp up to an analogy you knew was coming (and you’ll be spellbound by the payoff, I’m sure). Here it is: As followers of Jesus, we carry with us a deep-seated joy based on the knowledge that for us the story ends well. Somehow, someway, God is working everything for good even though we still live in a world where bad things happen, and where we are prone to selfishness, or envy, or worry, or pick your poison—the floaters of life. Jesus responds directly to these when He says, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Catch the implication? Because Jesus overcame the world, so will we!

And with that certain outcome awaiting us, we have every reason to “take heart”. For every time we focus on the eternal joys ahead, we see beyond life’s bleary trials to where God is unfolding a miraculous spectacle for good. It’s as obvious as the beauty of the clouds on a summer day.

I hope this encourages you to keep your focus on Jesus today.

-Kevin Murray
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