In reading through my Bible in 2013, one verse in the Book of Nahum stood out to me above all others. It was Nahum 1:3 which ends with, the clouds are the dust of His feet. Yes, I had read the verse before, but this time it seemed to call me to take notice -- maybe because I have recently moved to Hawaii and the clouds here are always beautiful and constantly changing. Every morning I walk my dog on the hillside where I live or sometimes in the adjoining valley or at the beach, and now, as I walk, I find that I am fascinated by clouds. They are always different in size, shape, color, texture, and density. They seem to tell the story of the day.
Early morning clouds are different from evening clouds. Sunset clouds can be dazzling. A hot sunny day brings on the white, puffy, cumulus clouds, while ominous gray nimbus clouds signal rain. But, what did Nahum mean when he said, the clouds are the dust of His feet?
About a century before Nahum wrote, Jonah had prophesied the destruction of Nineveh. However, the people of Nineveh had repented and God had stayed the judgment. Nahum’s prophecy depicts the execution of that judgment over one hundred years later. In his prophecy, Nahum portrays the sovereignty of God by describing His mighty power over His creation -- the wind, the sea, rivers, rocks, flowers, mountains, and clouds. Furthermore, Nahum declared, The Lord is good, and a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7). But He will not acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3).
So when I walk outside and behold the ever-changing beauty of “the dust of His feet,” I am reminded of the message of His true word, especially through the prophet Nahum. As they lightly float across the sky, the clouds remind me of God’s tender mercies. The sun shining brightly through the clouds and tingeing their edges with silver and gold reminds me of His grace which He has lavished upon us. When the dark clouds come, I am reminded of His anger at sin and of His judgment. Often, here in Hawaii, the clouds come with a rainbow that reminds me of His promise in Genesis Chapter 9, It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh (verses 14-15).
One morning last week, as I drove to the valley for an early morning walk, the clouds had settled low upon the mountain tops and that reminded me that God had sent His Son to walk with us here on the earth. But Jesus came down much lower than the mountain tops, right into the dirt and grime and sin of the streets. He had to do that in order to save us.
I find clouds to be incredible. They are part of God's art gallery. They give comfort and joy and they also give warning. They give a bit of respite when they pass across the sun on a blazing hot day. Sometimes the clouds form shapes of animals, faces, or even angels. They can give predictions of what the weather will be on any given day. And they are merely the dust of God’s feet.
Please don’t rush too fast through 2014. It is worth it to take time to stop, observe, and contemplate the dust of His feet. (And be sure to have your camera handy.)
Picture credits, top to bottom.
1. Sunset clouds over Waikiki -- taken from the street where I live
2. Picture by Marchelle Klein, my daughter-in-love and our youth lessons writer -- at Redondo Beach, CA
3. Clouds with rainbow from my back yard
4. Manoa Valley, Honolulu, HI -- taken from my car
5. Picture by my son, Scott -- at the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia
All pictures courtesy of God's amazing creation!
When my husband, Barry, was alive, we had a custom of reading the Bible every night before we went to sleep. We always made God’s word the last word of the day. Starting in Genesis we read a chapter every night, reading aloud to each other, taking turns on alternate nights. It took us more than three years to read the entire Bible, but it felt so good when we made it through! Then the next night we would start back in Genesis again.
Since Barry has gone to be with the Lord, I have started a new custom. Every year I read through the Bible. As I read I underline and make some notes in the margins. Then, at years end, I give that Bible to one of my grandchildren. I started with the oldest and am working my way down to the youngest. Five down and eight to go (at least at this point --- smile).
At the end of this year, the Bible will go to my grandson, Joseph, who was named after my mother, Josephine. I’ll never forget how tickled and proud she was when she heard that a great-grandchild had been named after her! My mom went to heaven in 2006 and her Bible has been tucked away with my precious keepsakes since that time. Because this year’s Bible will go to Joseph, I thought that he should have his great-grandmother Josephine’s Bible. So I pulled it out of its secure spot and began reading the first four pages on January 1. Two days ago, as I picked up the Bible to read, an old tattered and yellowed bookmark fell out. On it was a note written by my Aunt Ruth, my mom’s sister: “This was in our father’s Bible when he died on August 17, 1953 - with love from Ruth 8/16/76.” The bookmark had apparently been given as a gift to my mom on her 64th birthday.
The main content of the bookmark is a poem entitled, “My Bible and I” by an unknown author. I want to share that poem with you today.
We’ve traveled together
My Bible and I,
Through all kinds of weather,
With smile or with sigh!
In sorrow and sunshine,
In tempest or calm!
Thy friendship unchanging,
My lamp and my psalm.
We’ve traveled together,
My Bible and I,
When life has grown weary,
And death e’en was nigh!
But all through the darkness
Of mist or of wrong,
I found there a solace,
A prayer, and a song.
So now who shall part us,
My Bible and I?
Shall “isms” or schisms,
Or “new lights” who try?
Shall shadow for substance,
Or stone for good bread
Supplant thy sound wisdom,
Give folly instead?
Ah, no, my dear Bible,
Exponent of light!
Thou sword of the Spirit,
Put error to flight!
And still through life’s journey,
Until my last sigh,
We’ll travel together,
My Bible and I.
May your Bible be your faithful traveling companion through this new year and all through your life. I have found mine to be faithful through joys, sorrows, trials, temptations, sickness, grief, and loss that I felt I could not endure. Your Bible always has a word for you -- it is always the right word because it is God’s word. May you be blessed by that word in 2014 and in all the years to come until you are safe at home with the Lord.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.