Monday, April 28, 2014

Between the Lightning and the Thunder

There is always a sense of uneasy anticipation when dark clouds, pregnant with rain, ignite the sky with a flash of lightening. According to the National Weather Service, it is estimated that
there are some 16 million lightning storms in the world every year. Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring at any one moment around the world.

Most of us pause and begin to count off the seconds, to see how far away the lightening strike was from where we are standing. There is something about that in-between moment where we are conscious of our finite vulnerability. You are aware that something is coming your way that could hurt you, but you don’t know exactly when that will be….only that it is coming.

Thunder can be heard up to 10 miles away from the lightening that creates it. Meteorologists and experts on weather have calculated that lightning can heat the air around it to as much as 60,000 degrees, producing incredible sound waves by the quick expansion of the heated air. That would be hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels known as fulgurites which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground.

Light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so we see lightening the very instant that it flashes. Sound travels a mile in 5 seconds, if 20 seconds elapse between the lightning bolt flash, and the deafening boom of the thunder, then the lightning struck 4 miles away. Any closer would be a warning that the potential of a lightning strike hitting you could be imminent, and that it is time to seek immediate shelter. When there are successive lightning strikes, it means that they are often 2 to 3 miles apart, so it is wise to get to safety.

The 30 / 30 Rule

If you can only count 30 seconds before you hear the thunder, get into shelter for at least 30 minutes. When the lightning is very nearby, you can actually hear a snap or pistol shot sound that is followed by a sizzle that is followed by the smell of ozone. The snap-sizzle sound is not called “thunder” since it doesn’t really sound like the rolling, booming, thundering sound.

The Warning between the Lightning and the Thunder

Be Aware of the Coming Storm

A coming storm always begins with clouds on the horizon. Times of trouble will inevitably come our way. Trials have a way of confronting what we depend upon when times are tough: God or ourselves. When we let our guard down and become undisciplined in our seeking God in The Quiet Place, we tend to become careless in our lives and get caught unaware when a storm crashes down upon us

Prepare for the Coming storm

People sometimes spend an enormous amount of energy and money in their desire to be best prepared for a coming storm. The recent reports of hurricanes and tornadoes challenge everyone that lives within the storm regions to be prepared. Sometimes no matter how well you are prepared, storms can hit with very little warning. In a few terrifying moments, the destruction of a tornado can literally tear a person's world to shreds.

The best way to prepare for a coming life storm is to study, meditate upon and memorize the Word of God. The more we do it, the easier it is to lock those truths into long term memory.  The Spirit of God will bring God's promises into your mind before the full brunt of the storm hits. The more we are immersed in the Scriptures, the more prepared we will be.

Seek God’s Wisdom for the Coming Storm

One of God’s great desires is to see this characteristic fused solidly with our lives.

“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” Psalm 51:5-7

When specific storms are building upon the horizon of our lives, it is critical to seek God, and ask Him for insight and direction, as to how best to deal with what is coming our way.

“…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:9-10

People all over the world are facing intense and life shattering storms every moment of every day. Pending layoffs at work, threats of foreclosure, mounting financial pressures, and health related issues are common to everyone today no matter how prepared we may be. That is because in life, there is very little that we have any absolute control over. Between the lightning and the thunder one must seek God for wisdom as to how to respond Biblically to the coming storm and thereby glorify Him in the midst of it.

The Caution between the Lightning and the Thunder

There is a Tendency to Ignore the Signs

It is a strange phenomenon, but we often ignore the warning signs that a storm is coming our way. We reason that storms have happened in the past and we made it through, so why get so frantic about it. History abounds with examples of people who have ignored the warning signs between the lightning and the thunder to their peril.

“For wisdom is protection....the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.” Ecclesiastes 7:12

James wrote about the need to seek God for wisdom, especially when undergoing times of trouble:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:4-6

There is a Tendency to be Unprepared

Procrastination: “to put off intentionally and habitually, the doing of something that should be done.” The Oxford English Dictionary identifies that at the root of procrastination is delay. “It is the postponement of something often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable," or as "defer[ing] action, especially without good reason." 

Sometimes the storm upon the horizon is there because we caused it. Impulsive decisions, acting on unwise counsel, and a stubbornness to do it our way, may have created consequences that are dire, and may have a negative and costly impact upon our lives. In times like this, we need to trust God’s merciful grace, and with a repentant humility, humbly ride it through, whatever it may be. God in His mercy may lighten the impact of the storm, but the hail will still do it’s damage.

The contrast between wise planning and poor planning is seen in the story Jesus told regarding the wise and unwise builder:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Matthew 7:23-27

There is a Tendency to not seek God for Wisdom

Between the lightening and the thunder, there is a tendency for most people to respond without seeking God’s wisdom, and then wonder how things got into such a great mess.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes;Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7

Be Faithful between the Lightning and the Thunder

There is the Reality of Danger 

There is a free App for your smart phone that is called Lightening Locator, that allows you to accurately measure the distance where the lightening actually struck.

The issue is not necessarily where the last lightening struck, but to know how to respond to the one that is coming.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

There is a Need to Trust God

Between the lightning and the thunder, the test will be upon what it is that you lean on, to give you strength, other than God.

“When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of

two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” Edward Teller

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalm 28:7

There is a Need to Praise God

An attitude of thankfulness is intricately linked with trusting God, for it is the consequent act of praising Him in the midst of the storm.

“…Therefore, (because I trust in Him between the lightning and the thunder) my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalm 28:7

Don't be Afraid between the Lightning and the Thunder

God is Sovereign

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.” Psalm 142:3

God can be trusted

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

God is Faithful

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night.” Psalm 92:1-2

The psalmist understood this principle and wrote wisely:

“I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.  O may Your lovingkindness comfort me (be my comfort), According to Your word (or promise) to Your servant.” Psalm 119:75-76

Between the lightning and the thunder kneel in The Quiet Place, and give it to God, whatever it may be, and trust Him to walk with you though it.

Remember that the will of God will never lead you, where the grace of God Cannot keep you. He will be right there with you, between the lightning and the thunder.

Take a few moments and listen to this encouraging music video by Casting Crowns "Praise you in this Storm."

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