by Joni Shankles
I admit it.
I am afraid of thunderstorms.
Growing up and living in tornado country, I am an experienced weather watcher.
Let me clarify. I’m not brave enough to go out and actually watch storms. I mean watch in the sense of heightened awareness, of being on guard. I’m better characterized as a weather listener. For me, thunder is an audible signal that danger looms. Where there is thunder, there is lightning. And if the storm is severe, thunder warns me that tornado winds are possible. Better check my weather radar app.
I hide my fear pretty well.
Except that I had bicycle helmets in our tornado closet twenty years before the weather experts began recommending them. Getting trapped in our outside entrance basement with two kids under two years old, watching a tree fall against the door – let’s just say I respect the power of storms.
Psalm 29 is giving me a new perspective.
David issues an invitation for all to ascribe, or give credit, to the LORD his glory and strength, and to worship the LORD “in the splendor of his holiness.” To help worshipers understand God’s power over all creation, David uses the imagery of a storm.
David compares thunder to the “voice of the LORD”, an audible reminder of God’s power and majesty.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is majestic. (v. 3-4)
David compares the “voice of the LORD” to the intensity of lightning, and to the power of winds in a storm to shake, twist, and break trees.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. (v. 5)
The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert…
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple, all cry, “Glory!” (v. 7-9)
David is saying: When you hear thunder, when you see lightning, when you see the power of stormy winds, it is the voice of the LORD inviting you to worship, to cry, “Glory!”
This is a game changer for me.
Thunder as the voice of God, not the voice of doom.
Thunder as an invitation to worship, not as a trigger for fear.
Psalm 29 reminds me that God is more powerful than any storm. It reminds me that God reigns over all creation, even thunder, lightning, and wind.
“The LORD is enthroned as King forever.” (v. 10)
And the psalm closes with a promise I can cling to whenever storms arise.
The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace. (v. 11)
For now, I live in tornado country. Storms will happen.
Psalm 29 reminds me that I can be prepared, but I don’t have to be afraid.
I can hear God’s voice when thunder rolls.
And when I hear it, I can choose to worship.
Father, I give you the glory due your name. You are enthroned as King forever. Your power is greater than any storm. Help me to hear your voice in the thunder. Let worship be my response to storms. When storm winds blow, thank you for the gift of your strength and the blessing of your peace. Amen.