Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lightning Awareness

Surely God is great, and we do not know him;
   the number of his years is unsearchable.
For he draws up the drops of water;
   he distils his mist in rain,
which the skies pour down
   and drop upon mortals abundantly.
Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
   the thunderings of his pavilion?
See, he scatters his lightning around him
   and covers the roots of the sea.
For by these he governs peoples;
   he gives food in abundance.
He covers his hands with the lightning,
   and commands it to strike the mark.
Its crashing tells about him;
   he is jealous with anger against iniquity.

I wondered if I had jinxed our June 5th Outdoor Service and Picnic by choosing a rain theme. It poured rain that morning, but Plan B was a spacious tent at a local golf course and we had an impressive turnout, given the circumstances. There was no thunder or lightning, which would have changed our plans again, but the passage I chose from Job 36 speaks of lightning coming from God's hand, punishing the bad guys and girls.

That's often the way in scripture. Thunder and lightning are mighty portents related to Yahweh, the God of Israel. This Sunday our 1 Kings passage is about Elijah in the midst of a violent storm, before he hears the "sound of sheer silence." Other religions have a lightning god, including Zeus in Greek mythology and Thor in Norse legend.

This is Lightning Awareness Week, and we are offered stern warnings about seeking shelter as soon as we hear the rumbles of thunder. Excellent advise, but that isn't always possible. We have been in the midst of some fierce thunderstorms while canoe tripping, and one particularly violent storm occurred when we were far from safety with our three kids. We love a good thunderstorm, but not under those circumstances. Our most impressive lightning storm experience was sitting safely on a veranda watching hundreds of strikes while atop Mesa Verde in the American Southwest.

Here are some facts about lightning.

one hundred million volts of electricity in a single bolt.
temperature range, 15,000 – 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit, is hotter than the surface of the sun.          
lightning travels about 100,000 kilometres per second, or one-third the speed of light.

Gulp. Little wonder that lightning is associated with untameable and therefore God-like power.

Do you have favourite or scary (or both) lightning experiences? Do you enjoy that sense of energy and power beyond your control? Has God ever hurled a lightning bolt your way? (Hey, I had to ask)


Judy said...

Do we really believe that God punishes with natural disasters of any sort? I would prefer not to believe in a God at all .... in spite of the stories in Scripture - modern science explains the natural wonders , and warns us about them, and how to protect ourselves from these, for the most part (including not building in low lying areas, like New Orleans) - My God is the voice in the stillness that speaks of love and grace .... and then, hopefully, through my actions and attitudes towards others.

And, no, I cannot explain "close calls" that we all experience from time to time, when we should have met our end - angels? Not our time to go yet? Who knows for sure (I know - some folk say "God has it all planned" ... I am not sure about that, but I do not believe God plans our demise in any certain fashion, by lightning or thunder or disease - or massacre)

Frank said...

I agree with Judy, but I really do love to watch the absolutely awesome power of lightning bolts and sheets careening off adjacent clouds and the ground (albeit not too close!), and the accompanying thunder claps. There's nothing like being stricken by a totally humbling experience amidst the power and wonders of the natural world.