While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Luke 9:34-35

The word “covered” is also used when the angel explains to Mary how she will become pregnant. There the word is translated, “overshadow” (Luke 1:35). “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” God’s spirit overshadowed Mary and the impossible happened—a virgin was pregnant.

On the day of Pentecost, we again see the Holy Spirit overshadowing his people and empowering them to do the impossible—speak in languages they hadn’t learnt, preaching sermons they hadn’t written. It’s a great encouragement that God doesn’t expect us to do his work in our own strength but his Holy Spirit enables us and equips us.

It’s also a great challenge because it requires a responsive heart. When Peter, James and John were covered in the cloud it made no difference to their lives. They were afraid as they entered and no doubt afraid when the cloud left. Mary, however, responded to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant … May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). She was open to whatever the Lord wanted to do in her life and she was greatly blessed with the task of coaching, nurturing, and teaching God’s son. It was a decision that also caused her a great deal of pain. She would have been misunderstood, criticised, and ostracized.

Mary’s suffering, and ours is short-lived when we consider the glory that is to come. Meanwhile, we can ask God to overshadow us with his power and his presence.