He Who Regards the Clouds


He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

The wisdom of this passage is understandable when we apply it to everyday life. If a farmer allows himself to become overly concerned with the threat of strong winds, he will not be busy working to plant his crops. He will not bring in a bountiful harvest if he is constantly worried about approaching storm clouds. The wise farmer must sow and reap with a quiet determination. He must keep his mind focused on his work without allowing potential problems or dangers to distract him. This does not mean that the wise farmer is not aware of the possibility of a storm and of a lost crop. He is not ignorant of those things. He is aware, but he simply keeps himself from being distracted by it. He doesn’t allow the fear or possibility of what might happen to keep him from doing his work.

Do you ever find yourself considering something you want to do or should do, but you hesitate because of the “what-ifs”? What if this or that happens? Do you allow the uncertainties of life to become a distraction from taking action? We sometimes become “paralyzed” by worrying about possible problems on the horizon. When we do, we are like the farmer described in this figurative passage. Observing the wind and regarding the clouds may keep us from sowing or reaping.

Sometimes we face life’s uncertainties as those who regard the clouds. We worry and fret about what we will do if and when some hardship befalls us. We become fearful, depressed, and despondent about what might happen. Any undertaking in life, whether in education, business, or personal growth, may be hindered if we allow our worries and fears to stop us from acting.

Application of the figure is no less true in our service to God. Jesus taught the importance of counting the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:27-33). A king counts the cost of going to war. A builder counts the cost of building a tower. But counting the cost must not deter us from taking action. All who make the commitment to follow Christ will struggle with faithfulness. All of us will face times of strength and times of weakness. All of us come to Christ as babes, not as full-grown disciples. It is a process of growth. But we must never allow the fear of struggles and difficulties to keep us from serving Christ.

Changes in life are always unsettling. As an old hymn says it, “Life is filled with swift transitions.” They can be traumatic for anyone, including Christians. The difference for the child of God is the way he or she views God’s promises for his people. Christians believe that he will always be with us, and that he will not allow us to face more than we can endure. Those who seek the kingdom first do not need to be anxious; they will have the necessities of life provided (Matt. 6:25-34). Don’t worry about tomorrow. God fulfills his promises through our own faithful work, through the faithful love of our brethren, and through his own providence in supplying our every need. That same old hymn ends with the refrain, “Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

We should be realistic about life, understanding that life will present its challenges as we face the future. But we must not allow our regard for the clouds to cause us fail to sow, and thus reap the fruit the future may bring. “Let us not lost heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9).

Dan Petty