Have you ever watched a thunderstorm? If you live in Ontario, then I don’t think you can say you have. I grew up in Saskatchewan – the land of big skies where you can see, literally, to the ends of the earth. I have many memories as a boy of watching thunderstorms approaching from the horizon. And they are awesome!
You see them coming from miles away. You see the billowing, dark clouds from top to bottom. Grey on the edges but almost black toward the middle. Towering and foreboding, they are ominous in their approach. You can sense their silent strength. You see flashbulbs popping off deep inside them as they begin to discharge the incredible energy they are storing up. Then you hear the thunder – the low, rolling booming of explosions in the distance. You learn to count seconds between seeing the flash and hearing the thunder. The less the time you count, the closer the storm is to you.
It looms larger as it nears. Soon, the lightning bursts turn to bolts – streaks of hot energy snaking instantly across the sky. The thunder turns from rolling rumbles to strident claps; as if someone had split solid rock in half with a mighty hammer’s blow. The sky turns grey, and sometimes a hazy orange, as it reaches you. Now overtop, you can’t see it anymore – you’re beneath it, within it. The wind drops to almost nothing -- until the rain begins. Then it comes driving, in waves, whipped by the force of such incredible wind. Trees bend low, garbage cans go flying down the street and you see the rain racing along in hard curtains of water stripping leaves from the trees they pass by.
Since I was a boy, I’ve been fascinated by thunderstorms. I think I have that in common with the person who wrote Psalm 97 – at least the first four verses anyway. He writes:
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
I imagine the psalmist remembering a thunderstorm he has seen as he composes these lines. I love how he sees the Lord in midst of its majesty. In this unstoppable force of nature, he sees the mighty power of the mighty God – the Lord Almighty, before whom all the earth trembles in awe. I can see it too, which is perhaps one of the reasons I love to watch thunderstorms.
Isaiah 6:3 says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.” Could we just pause at the foot of that thought for a moment? The wonder, might, and amazing love of God is on demonstration all around us in this incredible world that He has made. Do we see it?
It’s spring, and the whole earth is beginning to wake up after the long sleep of winter. Have you noticed the emerging shoots of renewed life? Even this current threat of the COVID-19 pandemic can’t stop that from happening. What does that tell us about who God is? What does that tell us about His might and His love for us?
The whole earth is full of his glory. The heavens declare his glory. We are surrounded by it, by Him. Let’s open our eyes and see. From our knees, let us whisper His holiness. And maybe, if we’re lucky, there will be a storm.
And we’ll be thunderstruck!