I’ve been spending a lot of time flying this week. Saturday, my son and I flew from Arizona to San Diego, California, to visit my parents and the beach. I noticed how dusty the atmosphere was at high altitude during the flight. There were no clouds as California is still under an extreme drought condition. Then, after flying back home on Sunday night, I flew Monday morning to Boston. Most of this trip was over layers of clouds, so after putting these two trips together, here are some thoughts…
Although invisible water vapor is ubiquitous in the atmosphere, the conditions have to be just right for clouds to form. Ascending from the point of evaporation, water vapor will cool and then try to condense when the temperature reaches what is called the dew point. It can’t condense into a visible state however, until a physical surface is present for the vapor to condense upon. In the atmosphere, this surface is called condensation nuclei: an airborne particle of dust, salt, pollen, or smoke.
Water is a molecular structure made of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen atoms. Hydrogen’s atomic structure is made up of a single proton, neutron, and electron. A hydrogen atom exists in a state of fullness. It is complete and in perfect balance. It has a single electron singing in an orbital shell (a cloud layer) around the proton and neutron. Oxygen is atomically eight protons, eight neutrons, and eight electrons (in two cloud layers: two electrons on an inner orbital shell, and six electrons on an outer orbital shell). These outer six electrons are hungry for two more electrons and so oxygen is very reactive. When introduced to a flame, oxygen in the presence of hydrogen explosively bonds with two hydrogen atoms to form a very stable molecule of water (H2O). If you’ve ever watched the space shuttle take off, then you witnessed the explosive bonding of hydrogen and oxygen from the main engines. Inside the molecule of water, at the atomic level, the three atoms constantly give and receive (exchanging/sharing) their electrons with one another in and through the outer orbital shell (cloud layer) of the oxygen atom, now satisfied with eight electrons. This is a beautiful picture of the triune being of God. In an eternal dance, the Father gives all he has to the Son and the Son gives all he has to the Father through the flow/medium (cloud) of the Holy Spirit. The water molecule is a picture of the community of the Godhead feasting in celebration, eating and drinking, giving and receiving, in a corporate dance of exchange. This is happening no matter what form the water takes whether solid, liquid, or gas: invisible gas (describing the Father), liquid (describing the Holy Spirit), or solid (describing the Son). Water is unique in that in its solid form it “floats” upon the liquid form. This is just like the work of the Holy Spirit to always promote and lift up the Son: the Son walks on water.
Dust is finely ground and pulverized geolithic or meteoritic material lifted and/or sustained in the atmosphere by the convection currents of the wind. Salt is extracted from rock through the earth’s water erosion processes and sprayed as particles into the atmosphere by the froth and foam of crashing waves. Smoke is the byproduct of burning material. Airborne dust, salt particles, and smoke are formed through harsh mechanical and chemical processes on the earth that speak of 1) the incarnate Christ, and 2) the gruesome atoning work He did on the cross, and 3) His resurrection and ascension into the heavenlies. Pollen, on the other hand, is an image of the desire of God to increase, to enlarge, to proliferate, to fill the earth, to multiply. Pollen is designed to float in the currents of air to spread the species of a plant. The wind carrying a pollen grain is a picture of the work of the Spirit to magnify and lift up the fullness of Christ. Within each pollen particle, is the fullness of the plant. When mixed with the internals of another plant, that other plant can now bear fruit. Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is a picture of His eternal purpose and how He is accomplishing it.
Dew point is the temperature when invisible water vapor will condense into visible liquid water. This requires for the vapor to cool. The higher one ascends in the atmosphere, the air pressure decreases. That’s because gravity wants to collect the air molecules close to the earth. The higher you go the pressure is less. For example, a balloon with a given volume of air will expand the higher it goes. When it does, the molecules within it bump into each other less and less, and the result is a cooler temperature. As we learn to walk in Christ, we find His freedom and liberty as we ascend into His realm.
When the dew point (the temperature at which water changes state) is reached and water vapor is in fullness, complete, saturated, at capacity, and in perfect balance, invisible water vapor condenses out as visible water on a condensation nuclei. But a single dust particle doesn’t make a cloud. The conditions may be ready, but for a cloud to be formed there has to be a multitude of condensation nuclei, a fullness. For the visible image of the invisible God to be “manifest” there has to be a “many-feasting” nuclei that are eating and drinking-in of the living water available in the heavenlies. This is a picture of the body of Christ. The visible image of the invisible Lord: expressed through an ascended corporate people living in and sharing divine life together: a people who are continually experiencing the in-dwelt Christ, living out of the pulverizing work of the cross, carried as pollen for the increase on the winds of the Spirit, in the freedom-inspired dew point environment of corporate one-anothering and synchronized to a divine-natured, self-giving, trinitarian dance like that depicted/pictured in the water molecule.
May we continuously live in the clouds of His glory!