Thursday, March 12, 2015

Of Thunder & Prayer

A guest post by KG:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 
(Psalm 19:1-4)

Our age has the distinct privilege of looking more deeply (whether microscopically or telescopically) into the physical world than any generation that has gone before us.  It is hard to avoid the notion that we are looking at something that has been crafted. (Even Richard Dawkins, the inveterate atheist concedes as much.) Whether we considering the architecture of ameba or galaxies everything has an artistry that invites us to look at it as well as beyond it to what must be an artist. Even chaos has a calculus. The heavens do have a language all its own. And we are so crafted that we can understand its dialect. We can hear its speech and it is “talking its head off”.     

 I just heard the thunder the other evening. It was great. I have always enjoyed thunder and thunderstorms. It was one of my childhood thrills while growing up in the Texas Panhandle. Michigan/Missouri thunder is not quite so "mythic" but it is thunder none the less. Thunder speaks to something within me. And it almost always meets me when I’m in the middle of doing something else. It never needs to be introduced. It rumbles into my awareness, echoes between my ears and almost always swamps every other conversation. Thunder is an unapologetically rude wonder. 

Job says "He unleashes his lightening beneath the whole heaven ...after that comes the sound of his roar. He thunders with his majestic voice ...God's voice thunders in marvelous ways. He does great things beyond our understanding (Job 37:3-4)." Being an audience to a thunder storm makes it a little easier to imagine how falling into the hands of the living God would be a uniquely alarming experience. Sometimes I wonder, "How could I possibly approach such a thundering God”?  At the same time I think “How could I avoid him”? Sometimes it seems like I'm on a fool's errand when I pray to God, that only a fool would enter into such a dangerous circumstance. (In prayer, Eugene Peterson reminds us, we are brought into proximity with the one that breaks cedars, shakes and strips forests bare making the oaks whirl. Ps. 29) Only a fool would believe that such thunder cares that it exists, let alone that it would hear our squeaking words.  The remarkable promise, the even more remarkable experience is that, unlike climatologically turbulence, he does hear our squeaking words.

Sometimes it seems like a fool's errand to pray. Other times, however, it's clear that only a fool wouldn't pray after coming to this bellowing God. John Donne said about his own life with God that he did not need God's music, he needed God's thunder. We all need to be interrupted. To fall into the hands of the living God is a terrible thing we are told. But when you think about it, though terrifying, his hands are also the only place where we can find an answer to our deepest londings.  "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of heavenly lights." (James 1:17) As Mr. Beaver says in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,  “He may not be safe but he is always, always good.” Pray on.

- KG

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