What do you call an overcast when it's below your feet? This is a situation that occurs quite often here in the Blue Ridge. The drive up was not just foggy, but also dark... quite foreboding in terms of my expectations, and yet, beauty was there to be revealed from my perch at Rough Ridge. To the left far below, you can see the bridge from which I took this image: www.flickr.com/photos/snapdraggin/30494945821/in/datepost....
Clouds like these seem so much like ocean billows where the mountain tops poke through like islands... it reminded of the hymn It is Well with My Soul, which seems timely given the upset of late with our nation and with others around the world. A little lesson concerning this encouraging song for those who do not know: Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer who had invested in property throughout the city... already devastated by the death of his two-year-old son, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 left him in financial ruin. While the economic downturn of 1873 made matters worse for him, he decided to go through with plans he and his family made to travel Europe. At the last minute, he sent his family ahead of him, as he was delayed with concerns of zoning problems after the fire. While crossing the Atlantic aboard the SS Ville du Havre, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterward, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these astounding words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well), With my soul, (with my soul) It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life, Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, The sky, not the grave, is our goal; Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.
"Undercast" seems descriptive of a general mood of late... perhaps understanding that though times may be seemingly perilous, even so, it is well with my soul. Just so you know, Horatio Stafford and his wife went on to forge extraordinary lives in trying times... so should we all.
A stunning version of this song by 4 Him: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jc0a1CwaeM
What are you thankful for? Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, and despite the turmoil here and throughout the world over the last few months, there’s still much to be thankful for. Allow me to explain it through this image: I spent two weeks in the mountains of North Carolina this October specifically to try to define autumn in astonishing ways with the camera… as that area has been in a drought since June, that effort was a difficult one. Clouds are the canvas that sunrises and sunsets project their palettes of color to, but they often refused to cooperate this year.
I was disappointed with weather predictions that entire trip and this morning was no different… hoping for clouds the evening before and on the drive up to Rough Ridge, I got exactly what I was looking for… clouds! The only problem was that they weren’t where I expected them to be. It was still dark when I set up here, and you could see stars down on the horizon… not a good sign. As the sun rose, it was blue skies for sure… yet, with this inversion layer of clouds giving their best impression of a turbulent ocean crashing on an island shore, and the brilliant sun breaking through this colorful autumnal screen, I am no less than thankful for what it gave me.
Did you ever stop to think that it’s quite impossible to be discontented and thankful at the same time? Thankful people see blessings amidst burdens. As does the sun, indifferent of clouds, blessings shine on and eventually break through.
I am thankful to call you all friends this Thanksgiving. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).