The seven long years of being a single mother with three boys had proved to be more of a challenge than I could have ever imagined. The emotional pieces left in the aftermath of a painful divorce were many and getting too heavy for me to carry. I felt like my life, with all of my dreams, had fallen apart leaving me trapped in a world of hopelessness. In the throws of a deep, dark depression I was desperate to find some kind of solace and wondered if I could make it much longer.
One day I received a phone call from a woman at a hospital in the small, foothill town of Sonora, about 50 miles away. She asked if anyone in the office where I worked would be interested in a part time position there. The temporary job I had was ending, as the county hospital would soon be closing. Therefore, I considered the job opportunity as a door God was opening for me and a chance for some fresh mountain air.
After one interview I was hired and my life took a new direction. I shortly found a quaint little attic space for rent in Sonora and made the move.
However, I had to leave my three sons back in Modesto to live with their father in a tiny hovel of a house, in an undesirable part of town. It wasn’t good living conditions for them but I couldn’t afford to have them move with me yet. They lived over an hour’s drive away and had no phone, so I wasn’t able to talk to them unless I made the drive to see them. I missed them and worried about them constantly. With tear filled eyes I prayed for them every night asking God to please take care of them.
After the move, I made a routine of driving back to the valley on the weekends to pick-up one, two or all three of my boys, bringing them back to my place in the foothills for a night or two. On Sundays, I drove them back to their house in the valley.
I took every opportunity to be with them as it was my top priority. I saw them as often as my meager finances allowed, often scraping together all my spare change to make the trip. I had hopes that I would eventually be able to take them back to live with me again, but until then, I did a lot of driving.
When the boys were with me, I always tried to plan things to do that were fun, hoping, to at least, momentarily lift us out of the gloomy reality of our circumstances. The weekends were a reprieve for us to briefly escape the insecurities of the time.
On one weekend, I made the trek to Modesto again and this time it was James’ turn for a visit. He is my youngest and was twelve years old at the time. I picked up James and brought him up for some quality, one on one time. After our short weekend together, I had to take him back to his home again.
There always seemed to be a sense of sadness that would encroach on the last remaining time we had together. With uncertainty of what the future held and heavy hearts, we would make the journey back to the valley and away from where I lived.
We had come to a place in the highway where it narrowed into a two-lane road dipping into a valley just before the next town. All around us were rolling hills of gold and high plateaus ahead of us off in the distance.
We started noticing the billowy, cumulus clouds in the sky were shifting and changing, creating interesting shapes, then shifting again to change into another. They never did hold their forms for very long but were constantly pushed by the different wind currents, moving the clouds in multiple directions.
I can’t remember what it was exactly that James and I were discussing at that moment, but I remember the dreariness I always felt when having to take my boys back to their home.
James broke the mood with a cheerful tone, “Look Mom! God’s saying everything is going to be OK”, as he held his right hand up making an OK sign. He then pointed my attention up to a cloud floating along in the distinct shape of a hand. There were five fingers with the thumb and forefinger meeting together making a circle, and the other three pointed up with each slightly bent.
It was the OK sign with the sun’s rays streaming through the spaces between the fingers highlighting the contours of the hand. I could clearly see the lines and creases in the bend of each finger. It could not have been more picture- perfect. It was surrounded by blue sky and on the outer periphery were more clouds surrounding it at a distance, as if being held back, leaving the hand uninterrupted.
It sustained its shape with every detail and remained there for an unusually long period of time, with no changing or shifting. We looked at it with awe as the scene stood still, as if all the colliding winds had stopped, giving us time to appreciate the imagery.
We gazed at it for quite a while before the winds started moving the clouds again in their different directions and the image of the hand slowly slipped away into another cloud.
I feel God gave us a special message that day. James pointed my attention skyward and we were both able to share a sign of hope together. Since that day, we have casually talked about it from time to time. I always hope James can see it still, in his mind and heart, as vividly as I have.
I appreciate the Lord’s whimsical way of showing His care for me, and also for my children. When I think of it, I feel so deeply blessed that I was able to share an image of hope on that day with my son.
How beautiful it was, during that time of depression and separation, to see a love note from God. I look at clouds much differently now, thinking of the message I believe, God had given us that day. It reminds me to always look up and focus on God’s promises.
Deuteronomy 33:26: "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. NKJV
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