The Outskirts of His Ways
“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Job 26:14
It’s as though You woke me this morning to both laugh and tremble, gasp and smile. Last night You laid my head to rest with thoughts of Your great, incomprehensible power, expressed in Your creation and expressed in Your redemption. What a mighty God You are! When I opened my eyes this morning, I could see a storm blowing the palm tree outside my balcony window, and rain drops flying before a bright gray backdrop. Had You not led me to read about Your power in Job’s last response to Bildad, and in Charnock’s discourse on Your attributes, I would have awakened to assume I should be dictated by the weather to feel gloomy. Instead, it’s as though You whispered, “You’ve read a little about My power, but now watch this.”
Never before had I truly considered for more than a short moment how clouds shout of Your power. Sure, they are beautiful portraits of Your creativity and wisdom. You place each cloud as a canvas in the expanse, reflecting what colors You desire to display. On warm, sunny days we often see white clouds of many different formations spread across a blue sky. At sunset You stroke Your cloud canvases with bright flashes of orange, pink, and purple. In Florida thunderstorms, faithful to come every summer afternoon, Your clouds turn an ominous gray, nearly black as they seem to frown and growl at us from above. These are truly touches of Your brilliant use of colors and shapes, these clouds, mixed in combinations and set in formations that we have not language for sometimes.
But these, Your clouds, evidences of Your infinite power? Don’t we mostly picture these as fluffy, harmless and beautiful puff balls in the sky? Don’t we sometimes wish to sit and skip on top of them in fantastical bliss? Yet Job marveled at what power You show in the mysterious clouds. “He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them.” (Job 26:8). What a wonder that the mass of water it takes to quench the thirst of the earth, filling lakes and producing life and crop for the sustainment of humans and animals, is contained in seemingly weightless vessels!
How can they seem to float there with all that weight, and not completely crash unto our weak, clay houses and bodies, destroying all of humanity? The thought of “mere” clouds falling to annihilate the earth’s living bodies is humorous because it seems impossible. But these clouds carry the weight of water we swim in, we drink, we bathe in; the weight of rushing floods and tsunamis that have clearly wiped out whole cities. And there they hang over our heads, as the sharp blade of a guillotine threatening to fall on our soft necks. But You don’t let them do this. You bind up these great masses of water in Your thick clouds, and You keep them resting in the sky as a garment that covers us from the bright, overwhelming radiance of Your power in the heavens, Your throne.
The air is not split under Your massive clouds, and from these clouds You drop rain, softly or hardly on our heads. Though science books can inform us of even more of the intricate details and processes of the workings and purposes of these mysterious clouds, time and language fails us to fully express all of Your power displayed in the creation and sustainment of these bottles of the sky.
Would I expound, as Elihu did, on the thunderings of Your mighty voice, the flashes of Your terrible lightning, the rain, the sleet, and snow that “seals up” our hand and forces us to stop all our daily affairs and business to seek shelter and behold Your providential doings in the weather, I could but speak one word in the infinite volume set concerning Your power alone. I could but stroke one stripe of yellow paint across a never-ending canvas that would portray Your might. And I lose my breath when considering the fact that all of Your works in creation, in all of their powerful, intricate, mysterious ways, speak not completely of the infinite power that is You, Your sheer nature. Our comprehension is not powerful enough to understand it, and even if we could (and we never will), our words are not powerful enough to proclaim it. And Your power is just one of Your many attributes, expressed not only in Your miraculous creation of the heavens and earth through Your spoken word piece, but expressed in Your justice and judgment, and expressed in Your mercy and love in redemption.
I merely pondered how one or two functions of clouds can display Your awesome power and glory. But
“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
I cannot understand Your might in full, for I cannot but stutter and stammer the workings of what my naked eye sees in Your creation, much less what I do not see or know of You, Almighty.
Your gray clouds above me are still pouring out rain drops as I write. The clouds are so covering the heavens that I cannot make out their outlining; it’s as though one huge cloud is covering the sky all around me like a blanket. Your thunder is rumbling over the sound of the cars on 50th Street. I can’t articulate Your power even in this before me, and how small a whisper I hear of You even in this. Thanks for the reminder of Your power today.
In Jesus’ name,