Clouds Overhead

Her escape from her dorm room was like an escape from prison. She had been working…striving…slaving over work that was immensely important and yet completely pointless all at once. She knew if she stayed inside a minute longer she would suffocate.

And so she left, ignoring the confused stares from her roommates and carrying only her CD player and journal. She walked downstairs…down the hall…into the parking lot, all without a true destination but desperate to go somewhere.

Air. I need air.

She made her way into the garden. It was the same garden she and her mom had discovered on a visit during her freshman year, and she was never quite sure if she was supposed to be in there or not. Regardless, she squeezed through the gate’s opening and entered her solitary place. She breathed.

In. Out. In. Out. It’s going to be okay. Just keep breathing.

She knew in her heart that everything would somehow work out, but on that day nothing made sense. It was her senior year of college, and it was almost over. Everyone around her knew what they would be doing with themselves after graduation’s celebration, but her? She was as hopelessly adrift as she had been the day four years earlier when she first walked those same well-manicured lawns. She had no plans and no dreams to speak of. All she knew was that everything she had ever known was about to end. Everything that had defined her was about to go away. All she had ever worked for was paying off……but for what?

As she looked around her, she fought back a tear. There was no denying that she loved it here, on this campus, living this life. She had made a name and a place for herself. Despite all the times she had wept with the desire to just go back home, she knew this was where she belonged. This was where she had found herself. Really, this was where she had begun, and leaving it seemed to mean that she would be redefined once again. And by what? Would she just pour herself without limit into a job, working and pushing and striving to be the best in another avenue? What would she become? Who would she be next?

She sat on the grass and, with a heavy sigh, let herself fall onto her back. Even the clouds overhead seemed to have a purpose. A destination. A reason for being and a plan for how to get there. She sighed and pressed play, the music enveloping her and something inside her stirring.

If You made me like the grass that is green
Growing tall and covering the hills above me
Maybe I would pray for sunshine and a little rain
To fall now and then to make me lovely
I could be a place where sheep could graze
Or barefoot feet could play
And I would grow and grow and hope You’d bend down low
To hear me sing my offering
Open up the heavens, open up the sky
All of Your creation wants to testify
I have a song, so let the earth sing along
‘Cause I just want to praise You

The tears finally broke free, pouring from her eyes….down her face….into her hair and eventually into the grass underneath. Weeping…sobbing…she felt something in her trying to break free. This was new. She had never felt it before and it was wonderful and terrible and scary and freeing, all at once.

If You made me to be a cloud in the sky
Found the perfect place way up high where I could hover
Maybe I would pray for skies that were blue
Or a sunset or two to show Your colors
Or maybe I might be
A mountain strong and steep
But I would try and stand as tall as I can
And I would sing my offering

“What is this feeling?” she thought. As she wept and pressed the button to replay the same track again, she glanced around to see if her solitude remained unbroken. “I must look crazy…”

But though she tried, she could not stop the feeling that as crazy as whatever this was, it was real. It was true. It was something good and worth the time away from her textbooks.

Replay. Replay. Repeat, again and again.

Open up the heavens, open up the sky
All of Your creation wants to testify
I have a song, so let the earth sing along
‘Cause I just want to praise You

The words echoed over and over, ringing in her ears but shaking something much deeper inside her. She watched the clouds and a butterfly in one of the flowers and and trees doing their dance in the cool spring breeze and wondered her place in all of this.

“Breathe,” she told herself. “Just keep breathing.”

And though she couldn’t quite place what it was, something was happening to her. Something inside her was emerging from a cold, dark slumber as surely as had the butterfly she watched nearby. Something inside her was waking up.

And the sun every morning cannot wait to shine
And the stars every evening are all standing by to light the sky Give the rocks and the stones voices of their own If we forget to sing praises to our King

She looked at her watch and knew she had to get back. The research and papers and exams and textbooks…they were waiting, and if something inside her was going to change from the status quo, it would just have to wait. But yes, something was different. Something was happening to her. She wanted nothing in the world more than to remain in that quiet place and let whatever it was seize her, but life was waiting.

Her face tear-stained and her heart light, she brushed the grass from her clothes and started back toward the dorm. As she looked back over her shoulder at her sanctuary behind her, she hummed a now-familiar tune. Her altar stayed behind, awaiting the next time that worship would win over her world, while a still-uncertain future awaited her.

Ten years ago, I began what I now know to be my romance with Jesus. The story told here was of one of the first times He and I danced together, though I had no idea at the time that His Spirit was what I was feeling. Lyrics were taken from Nichole Nordeman’s “My Offering.

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