Recently my email server had an update and suddenly I was not able to access my work emails. Now mind you, it had been warning me it was going to update for weeks, but I thought if I just ignored it, I would be able to sneak under the radar and not have to learn a new format. Well it was frustrating, but thankfully my daughter, who speaks tech and Pastor Jeff (yes, I pulled him off the Frisbee course) were able to put things right again.
When it reformatted, I noticed I had quite a few emails that had been stored in the “cloud” from 2017 – the year I first opened my business. Apparently, I thought I was deleting them, but I was really archiving them. It was kind of neat to look through correspondence from my very first customers, many of whom are now friends – a real trip down memory lane. But the term being stored in the “cloud,” got me thinking.
When I taught Physics and Chemistry to my children, we would go over the structure of the atom. As you all know, the nucleus of the atom is made of a cluster of protons and neutrons tightly packed together (the atomic number being the number of protons in the nucleus and shown above the abbreviation for the element on the Periodic Table of Elements). Then the electrons, which are the same number of protons (unless, of course, the atom is an ion with a negative charge) orbit the nucleus on rings. In the most simplistic model, each ring surrounding the nucleus can only hold a certain number of electrons. On the first ring, two can fit. On the second, eight can fit. On the third, eighteen can fit and so-on. Now this model of rings lends itself nicely to explaining how molecules form. Take for instance, Carbon with an atomic number of 6. It has 2 electrons on its first ring and 4 on its second. The Carbon atom really wants to fill its second ring, which you remember can hold 8, so it cozies up to other carbon atoms (or other atoms which also need electrons to fill their outer ring), and it shares electrons from that other atom. This is an “atomic bond” and it is how the molecules of our world are formed. While the model of the rings helps illustrate atomic bonds, it is not really accurate because electrons are very fast moving particles. They don’t just stay in one position on their rings. The ring, in reality, more closely resembles a “cloud” of probable places where the electron is most likely to be. These clouds surround the nucleus in shell-like layers.
Scientists have tried to force extra electrons in these various shells but when they do so, the electron disappears, moving faster than the speed of light and quantum leaps back to the shell which has room for it. So my old emails were stored in a cloud. The very elements that make up this device on which you are reading this blog contain thousands of electronic clouds orbiting their nuclei and we also exist in a kind of cloud.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Just as God was a cloud hovering over the Israelite children in the wilderness by day to protect them, so He hovers over us and protects us. We cannot see this cloud, because like the quantum leaping electron, His movements are faster than light. After all, He is light (I John 1:5). Those saints of God, listed in Hebrews chapter 11 and our loved ones, who have shed their earth-suit bodies and gone on to heaven, dwell directly with God in this cloud of his glory.
Christmas, although a time of great joy, because it marks the birth of our savior, can also be a time of bitter-sweet memory and longing as we miss those we love, who are no longer in this world. But take comfort my brothers and sisters. They surround us in a cloud. I believe, when we do something that pleases God, He swoops them in at that moment to witness it. They cheer for us from the cloud like fans in an arena cheer for their favorite athlete running a race. One day we will join them, and we will forever be with our Lord.