Not a few ‘wordsmiths’ have tried to capture a cloud on paper with a pen. Standing in the desert in Mongolia, I turn full circle and on all sides see the earth surrounded by floating balls of cotton-wool.
Try to touch them and they are not there, but from where I stand they fill the air — a mystical mist with form but no substance.
And overhead, streaking the deep blue background, there are yet more clouds — wispy things of white horsetail hair, painting the canvas we call sky. In the distance they threaten darkness, with the sound of thunder and bolts of fire.
Son of God
While meditating on clouds, sky and thunder, I also think of the Son of God who created this panoramic sight — and did unthinkable things for you and me, hanging on a tree for our redemption. I think upon God manifested in the flesh, who will one day ride upon the clouds as he returns to judge the world in righteousness.
When he does, he will say something like this: ‘Come from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other, to gather in my elect’ (Matthew 24:30-31). Mongolia is one of those far corners from where the elect will be called.
Many Mongolians will finally stand in the presence of the ‘One with the appearance of jasper and carnelian with a rainbow resembling emerald encircling the throne with flashes of lightening, rumblings and peals of thunder’ (Revelation 4:3-5). Together with you and me, and all the ransomed church, they will ascribe constant praise, worship and glory to the King of Kings.
Today, as we start our tenth year as Christian veterinary missionaries in Mongolia, we would like to thank all who make sacrifices so that Frances and I can be here.
I know missionaries are supposed to suffer and give up what they cannot keep anyway, but we are so happy to be here. To be part of what God is doing here is an honour that I can no more describe than I can the clouds above.
We see Bible teachers go smiling to places of intense hardship to tell people of Jesus Christ, who has dramatically changed their lives. We say to them, ‘be careful with the gospel lest you unnecessarily offend the government and Buddhists’ — but that is like trying to hold back the wind!
Who can close the mouth of new creatures in Christ? And there are the vets taking the gospel to the university and remote areas, with a determination to reach all over this vast country.
The clouds bring a delicious rain to grace this parched land. So also does the gospel. Christian teachers are now teaching Mongolian children to read and write — and how much God loves those who seek him with all their heart.
God is so real here — you feel you can actually step out daily in his power. Things around us seem so fragile, and we often have no choice but to trust in him. Of course, we ought to live that way wherever we are placed, but it does seem easier in Mongolia with many of the props knocked out from under us.
When we see the freshness of the faith among Mongolian believers, we feel the great challenge to ‘Guard the good deposit’ (2 Timothy 1:14). Ours is a faith with substance. It is not a cloud, but the Rock that is Christ.
Oh, that we in the Western church would stand more firmly on that Foundation that is totally secure