I love Oklahoma.
This is a great state for many reasons. If I were to list the top five reasons I love this state, somewhere near the top of that list would be one simple word:
Recently, our Oklahoma sky was ablaze with streaks of lightning that illuminated swirling rain and charging winds. After each brilliant flash, I waited (1 Oklahoma…2 Oklahoma…) then came the familiar peels, rumbles, crackles and shaking booms that have stirred me since I was a child.
As I sat and watched the storm roll through, I had a few categorical thoughts.
- I feel small.
- I’m thankful for shelter.
- This will pass.
- God is big.
I feel small when I watch a thunderstorm because I am completely at its mercy. I have no control.
I am thankful for shelter because, even though I am in the midst of deafening booms and rogue fissures of electricity, I have no fear. I can gently rock my scared five-year-old as he passes from waves of concern to the gentle drifting of sleep – mere feet away from radical and raging elements.
I understand this will pass because I have seen this story before. Though unpredictable and certainly dangerous, there will be an after. This is not the first storm, and it won’t be the last.
I see God is big because the Bible tells me God is the creator of all things. It tells me God is sovereign. It tells me storms are of no lasting consequence in light of the surpassing story of the Gospel working itself out, even in the midst of creation groaning and thrashing about in subjection to a sinful world.
It is funny how natural phenomena like rain, storms or campfires make us introspective. They make us teeter on the thin line between fear and awe. They captivate our attention in large part, because we are captive to them. We are dependent on the fire’s heat and the thunderstorm’s rain. Yet we cannot venture too close to either for fear of succumbing to these same elements.
We are too fragile.
I cannot watch a thunderstorm without thinking about God. Like the disciples on the calm and gentle water, still drenched from crashing waves, standing in fearful awe of Jesus, I cannot help but ask myself the question, “Who is this that even the winds and waves obey him?”
The morning after the storm, I refreshed my twitter feed to see creation socially groaning and thrashing about – being strangled by sin and gasping for redemptive breath. I heard crashing booms of doomsday prophets and suspicious rumbles of what may still be to come. I saw streaks of anger fracturing the quiet backdrop.
So much danger. So much violent and rushing threat. Such chaos and uncertainty.
I felt myself wanting to respond like my five-year-old the night before – covering my eyes and ears to quiet the noise.
I’ll be honest. When I see the social winds rage and watch the flash bangs of daily derision, I often feel helpless and don’t know what to do. More or less, I fear I am just an idle onlooker waiting for the storm to pass – documenting it on my Instagram feed to feel involved in the situation.
Sometimes I want to rage into the discussion, throwing caution to the wind, protecting what is precious, and screaming against the stinging bullets of rain.
Sometimes I just want to retreat to an interior room and wait for the All Clear.
Either way, I know I will never stop the storm. As noble and strong as I may present myself, at the end of the day, this is bigger than me.
I have a responsibility and a duty to do what I can, certainly. But what I can do will never fully reverse the effects of the fall or secure a new kingdom under my steady hand where all of these tumults have ceased.
My voice is too weak. I am not God.
But still, by grace I have God and the Gospel.
In these times when I feel small, I find I can still use that small voice to speak to those who would hear of our God who is not small.
I can invite those in harm’s way to take cover under the shelter of the Gospel I enjoy.
I can maintain the perspective of the Gospel and live in light of future glory though this world fades and evil continually proves the Bible true.
Ultimately, like the storms outside my window, the social storms surrounding our world point both to our insignificance as well as the weight and glory of He who is, in control of even the social winds and waves.
We should not be surprised when these storms come. They should stir us. Their inherent danger and weight should be understood. We must be diligent and prepare. We must warn and protect. We must not shrink back from a reality greater than ourselves or pretend we are somehow immune from the effects of social gales.
But let these storms give us the same reminder and sense of fearful awe as their natural namesake.
Let them remind us we are small and God is big.
We have been given shelter even in an age of storms.
This too shall pass.
God is big.
Sometimes we can do nothing greater than thank God that He is.