by John Deal
We often find ourselves wanting, or should I say needing, a touch from God. Reasons vary and are as numerous as the stars, but there seems to be a common theme, at least at the core of why we seek Him. We want to know He is there.
On Saturday, August 22, I was finishing up a sermon for Sunday morning. I stepped outside a little after 7 p.m. to get some fresh air and stretch a bit. Looking up at the late afternoon sky revealed a contrail left behind by a passing jet. The setting sun had transformed the long wispy vapor trail. Golden highlights and bright reddish orange shadows made it look surreal.
As an avid photographer I am always on the lookout for these types of photo opportunities. I hurried back into the house to grab a camera and get this shot. I snapped off several frames, happy that I had captured the moment. That is until my attention was drawn away from what I thought was a great photo.
Something kept tugging at me to look to my right. When I finally did, what I saw would change me forever. A large, rather uninteresting cloud was sitting to the north. Nothing special, just a cloud I thought. Then I looked closer. An opening in the cloud had revealed something white, something much brighter than the rest of the drab gray clouds which surrounded it.
I swung my camera around and zoomed in. I heard the shutter click off a few frames. I say heard because at this point I was in such awe of what I was looking at through the viewfinder that I wasn’t really aware of anything else.
The photograph you see here has not been retouched in any way. It is as I captured it that afternoon. I will let you decide what you are looking at. When I zoom in, it is a cloud. But I believe with all I can that God had revealed an angel to me.
Shortly after taking the picture, I went inside to share it with my wife. I was in tears and so excited to show her. She told me that four years ago when we lost our only child, Blair, to cancer, she had prayed that God would give her some kind of reassurance that our daughter was with Him. She went on to say that she has seen the very same angel in the clouds on a few occasions since then. She was afraid to share with me then but once she saw the picture she confirmed that she had seen it too. Now the tears turned into all out crying! I could feel His presence surround me with such power.
Part of the sermon I was going to share had to do with us having little or no expectation when we pray. How we pray with the mindset of the church when they prayed for Peter’s release from prison. We often pray for healing, for guidance, for anything, yet we don’t often believe God can, will, or wants to answer. We go off acting as if it will not be heard.
The moment God showed me this vision in the clouds, I knew He was confirming what I should, and did, talk about. Most importantly, it reminded me that He is alive and watching over us – ready to hear our cries, willing to act on our behalf, and more than able to answer our prayers.
I have shared this image with friends and co-workers over the last couple of days. One person, in particular, seemed to be very touched by it. As soon as he saw the picture, he grabbed my arm and said I needed to go with him to the hallway outside our office. He called his mother and what I heard was amazing. She had called him on Saturday afternoon at the very moment I was taking the photograph to tell him what she was looking at in the clouds on her way home. She was quite a ways north of where I took the picture, yet she saw the very same thing at the same moment. God is so good!!!
My prayer is that you find comfort from this photograph. That in some way, God will use this to touch you, that He will remind you deep in your spirit that He was, He is, and He will always be.