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What do you do when the clouds come?
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Clouds come into our lives in many ways. Last Tuesday they arrived with dark, cold overcast skies and icy rain, causing spirits to sink.
Besides these types of clouds, others can affect our lives in more dramatic ways. The financial clouds of deployment have cast a shadow over the economy in Hinesville. Many businesses have been affected by reduced revenues and many paychecks have plummeted because of these clouds.
News of the clouds of war comes every day in reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. They sometimes bring pain as we remember the fallen in tree ceremonies at Fort Stewart.
Nationwide the clouds of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown have cast a shadow over Georgia and parts of Hinesville. Ominous clouds have recently come over the wildly gyrating stock market causing unrest and uncertainty. "Recession" is whispered but not too loud. Urgent moves are made toward stimulus.
The clouds of change have also come across our political landscape from our local elections to the forthcoming national elections. Clouds can bring with themselves uncertainty and doubt but they can also bring hope.
It is like the old story of two people talking about recession and depression. "It may be a recession when you're out of work." One of them said "but it's a depression when I'm out of work."
One way to look at clouds is how they affect others and give thanks that we have missed "the bullet." This way of looking at clouds is ultimately self-centered and does little to change how we cope with the clouds in our lives.
Many years ago, a friend gave me a copy of "The Jesus Person's Pocket Promise Book." It spoke of the numerous promises that God gives us despite the "weather." It reminded me that no matter how thick and dark the clouds are God's promises give us hope. Even when there is disaster upon disaster God is the winner in the end. After all, He gave Himself to save us.
Paul reminds us that if we "put on Christ" we will see with a new set of eyes. Our eyes can see beyond the hardships, the clouds, of today.
This was an abstraction to me until I took off from Atlanta in a terrible storm some years ago. There were clouds everywhere. Rain came down in sheets. As the engines revered up at the end of the runway, I wondered if I would live to tell of this flight. We screamed down the runway into the heart of the storm. The plane bumped up then down. My heart sank. I prayed.
Then we broke through the top of the clouds into a sun drenched sky. The brilliance of the sun reflected off the angry clouds below. Suddenly I knew that God's love is like that.
He carries us though our cloud filled days and nights until He brings us above the clouds of our lives into His eternal sunshine. How have you been - in the clouds or above them?     

Fr. Will Carter is pastor of St. Philip's Episcopal Church.
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