Posted by: rcottrill | June 29, 2016

The Unclouded Day

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Words: Josiah Kelly Alwood (b. July 15, 1828; d. Jan. 13, 1909)
Music: Josiah Kelly Alwood

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: This song was written around 1880. Mr. Alwood was a circuit-riding preacher in the American Midwest. Traveling on horseback through all kinds of weather and over all kinds of terrain, he visited small churches that otherwise would have no pastoral ministry. He was often gone from his home and family for many weeks at a time.

You can read about the inspiration for this song (perhaps the only one he wrote) on the Wordwise Hymns link. The song became a Top Ten Country hit in 1976, when Willie Nelson released it with the title of Uncloudy Day.

The wildfires to the northwest of us, as I write, are destroying forests and threatening towns. Thousands of courageous fire fighters, with sophisticated equipment, have been brought in from other places, and the battle goes on. There have been successes and reverses, but overall, progress is being made. The one thing that would be of great help is a steady rain. But day by day we’ve checked the weather reports, gazed at the sky, and prayed, seemingly in vain.

A recent cooling of the temperature, and some showers here and there, have been welcomed, and we hope for more still. Not only will this help to control the fires, the moisture is much needed by farmers who are in the midst of planting. We have hope that even “a cloud, as small as a man’s hand” may be the forerunner of a sky full, and the herald of torrents, as it was in Elijah’s day (I Kgs. 18:44).

All of this to indicate that some clouds are welcome. Recently, I heard someone say they didn’t want rain on the week-end, that it would interfere with their plans for an outing. Really? Do you know what’s been going on? Would you begrudge people the survival of their homes and livelihood because you have to cancel a picnic? Sometimes clouds are wonderful!

The Bible has a lot to say about them–sometimes in a positive, and sometimes in a negative way. There is the value of rain, of course, as indicated above.

“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains” (Ps. 147:7-8).

Then, there is the symbolic use of clouds. When God assures His people that He has forgiven them, He says, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins” (Isa. 44:22). But clouds can also be a picture of coming judgment, as it was for Israel.

“That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:15).

But there is an interesting question to consider: Will there be clouds in heaven? At one point in his heavenly visions John sees the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on a cloud (Rev. 14:14). But overall it looks like heaven will be a place of brightness and clarity, not of gray and darkening skies, a place where the glory of the Lamb (Christ) is the light, to the extent that the sun and moon are unnecessary (Rev. 21:23).

Which brings us to a gospel song called The Unclouded Day. The author uses the clouds as a poetic imagery to describe heaven as “a home where no storm clouds rise.” Where, as the Bible puts it:

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away: (Rev. 21:4).

In that sense, we can be sure there are no clouds in heaven! Nothing to dim our joy and blessing. “In [God’s] presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

Josiah Alwood’s song says:

CH-1) O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

CH-3) O they tell me of the King in His beauty there,
And they tell me that mine eyes shall behold
Where He sits on the throne that is whiter than snow,
In the city that is made of gold.

CH-4) O they tell me that He smiles on His children there,
And His smile drives their sorrows all away;
And they tell me that no tears ever come again
In that lovely land of unclouded day.

Questions:
1) What are the clouds (troubles) in your life today that you know will be gone in heaven?

2) How do you find joy and peace in life, in the meantime?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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