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Friday
Mar162012

The voice of God?

The weather-casters are calling for thunderstorms today, and that will be a familiar song as spring continues its onward march.

Thunderstorms can be trouble, spawning tornadoes or battering crops or sparking fires with lightning. 

But they can also be awe-inspiring, majestically beautiful. 

I've always liked thunderstorms. I spent the first four years of my life in a tin-roofed house, and afterward I often visited my grandmother and great-grandmother there. I loved it when rain came pouring down, when I could stand on the L-shaped back porch and hear the rain beating on the roof and watch a river of water pour down the crease to pound flat rocks strategically placed below. It was like standing beneath a waterfall.

When the windows are open and a wet wind blows the scent of rain through through the house, the world seems fresher, cleaner. And when the occasional bolt of lightning blasts the air with a thunderous crackle, we know we inhabit a living, sizzling, amazing world. 

Such thoughts have come to mind this week as I've been working on the Nurturing Faith Bible study lesson for June 3 -- it's based on Psalm 29, a hymn in praise of God's transcendent power as revealed in a thunderstorm. The psalmist speaks of the booming thunder as "the voice of Yahweh" that rules the waters, splinters tall cedars, makes mountains dance, and "flashes forth flames of fire."

The ancients knew they'd never see anything more powerful than a thunderstorm, unless it was the God who set the earth and its weather in motion. And, as frightening as storms could be, they took comfort in hearing the crashing of thunder, a powerful reminder of God's presence. 

Contemporary believers understand the root causes of weather patterns and storm development in a more scientific way, and few of us other than the most judgmental see damaging storms as the visitation of divine wrath on the wicked (and whatever innocents happen to be nearby). 

Even so, the fierce power of every storm floods the skies with mystic metaphor, and those who listen may still hear echoes of the voice of God. 

Welcome, thunder.

 

[Photo from http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/photos.htm]

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