Wednesday evening brought us a storm unlike any I’ve ever seen. For 30 or 40 minutes we sat under a tornado watch—almost unheard of around here—with near-constant lighting, countless thousands of flashes of it, bringing staccato bursts of light to the night. The sky flashed like it does at the grand finale of a fireworks show, sparks to the left, to the right, directly overhead, each one bigger than the last. Huge forks reached for the ground, first to the west, then right over our house. I watched all of this through a gap, a window in the trees that tower over our home.
All the while thunder rolled in the background, a deep, continuous bass punctuated by sudden cracks and peals, some so loud and sudden, coming without warning, that my heart would pound in my chest (and I’m not easily startled!). I could feel the thunder more than I could hear it. It was there, it was present, almost in physical form. My hand on the door frame could feel its rumble as it gently shook the house and occasionally jolted it. Sirens began to wail as emergency workers went about their business.
In one moment I saw a bolt of lightning begin in the eastern sky and streak toward the west. It faded and jumped back, flickering like a snake’s tongue. As it disappeared, a long, low roll of thunder followed it back, from west to east, tracing the path of the lightning, answering it.
The wind was strangely calm around our home. The leaves trembled with the rain and moved with the thunder, but there was barely a gust of wind. Great sheets of rain poured down all the while, forming puddles in the grass and torrents in the streets. The storm smelled of whatever it is that storms smell of. Is it ozone? Is it dry ground becoming wet? Whatever it is, it is a distinct smell—the smell of summer evenings.
After a few minutes of this barrage the storm moved out over the lake, rolling away to the east side of Toronto, where it could bring the show to another town and perform for another audience.
It is little wonder that the ancients ascribed divinity to the heavens. Thunder storms were gods raging against one another, fighting, destroying, caring nothing for the humans that might be in their way, caught in the crossfire. All the power man can muster, all the energy and destruction we have compressed into bombs and missiles fades to nothing in comparison to a great storm. These storms tell us of our insignificance, or our powerlessness. What are we before the power of a storm? What can we do in the face of the storm, but huddle and shelter and hope for the best?
This was the kind of storm Jesus experienced, not in the safety of a brick house, but in a little boat in the middle of the sea. And in a storm like this he opened his tired eyes and rebuked it. “Peace, be still!” And the storm heeded the voice of the Creator. Even wind and waves obeyed him.
Watching this storm, standing under the overhang by the front door, feeling the rain splash against my feet as forks of lightning split the skies—this was worship. I stood there in a long moment of fear—not the fear of terror, but the fear that comes in knowing my place, in knowing who I am, in knowing who He is, in knowing that even this is his handiwork. All around me the storm cried out of the power and glory and majesty of God. It spoke—it yelled and screamed and bellowed. It called for me to worship the Creator of the storm and the Calmer of the storm.