‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
I’m not a big fan of hot, humid summers. Winter is alright. Spring is lovely. Autumn is by far my favorite. But summer? No thank you. All that heat, all that sticky humidity that you can’t escape. I kind of dread it.
I don’t remember the heat from last summer. I know for sure that summer happened and I know that it must have been hot. The nightmare we walked through lasted from June 15th to August 28th, smack dab in the middle of our summer months. Surely there were unbearably hot days, scorchers. But I have no recollection of the high temperatures that I normally hide from at all costs. My focus was laser sharp, with all other concerns pushed aside. I wanted my kids back. Nothing else mattered.
During that dark summer, I felt the shadow of Death following me through the lowest valley. It was ever-present, even as my God’s light was equally present. It loomed large, trying with everything it had to gain ground and take over. Relentlessly. The valley was so deep, so far down, it felt void of life-sustaining oxygen. All my memories of those 76 days are still dark and grainy. Even in the midst of the blinding sunshine characteristic of Midwest summers, my mind goes dark when I think back to that time.
This summer, I traveled to Novi Sad, Serbia with a group of people to serve at an English camp for children. What the enemy had tried hard to steal, the Father redeemed gloriously, far exceeding my expectations. It was more than I dared to imagine. Covered in the anointing of my Lord, I traveled across the globe, leaving my footprints in airports and rural Serbian villages and old brick streets tucked away in alleys. All around me, I took note of comparisons between this summer and the last. Life versus death. Joy versus sorrow. Laughter versus gut-wrenching sobs. Defeat versus VICTORY.
We stopped in Munich, Germany to board a plane that would take us to Belgrade, Serbia. It was a short flight, but held the most impact for me. We were right in the middle of the day, when the sky was a brilliant blue and the sun shone brightly. As I lifted off the ground in Munich, the plane going faster, faster, faster until it had no choice but to float upward, I noticed the clouds all around me. Light, fluffy and cheerful, they surrounded the plane and my heart. Those clouds in Germany held within them a massive mystery I still haven’t figured out. By themselves, they are just evaporated water caught in a cycle. But those clouds, in that sky, outside that plane were created by the hand of the Father, and held healing and redemption and joy. I longed to jump into them and sink into their restoring buoyancy. Like a balm, the clouds matched the carefree Hope settling throughout and the stark contrast was crystal clear. I had landed in the lowest valley, yes. But, just as He promised, He lifted me up as if I were an eagle, propelled by the air under my wings. I had run so hard, so long and so far to claw my life from the grip of the enemy that my body still felt exhausted a year later. But I was not too weary to continue. I kept walking and did not faint. My hope, once tested and shaken, was now renewed and rebuilt, soaring.
The eagles have the most stunning view. All of creation on display below them, harnessing the mysterious air all around, pushing up, up and out, into the heights. I took in the beautiful sights from their vantage point and wept in awe of the One and Only God who can join me in both misery and celebration. The one who never leaves, never forsakes me. The King who accompanied me into the low valley and stood guard against the Shadow of Death, then breathed air under my healing heart and carried me into the clouds.