The weather has been crazy here this week. We have had tornadoes, violent thunder storms and intense heat. Of course, the humidity has been off the charts. In fact, I can’t remember a time when we have had as many changes in the weather as we have experienced in the last week or so. Even today, the sun was out, humidity was starting to climb and then, out of the blue, I could hear the thunder rolling in the sky. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, at least for several more minutes, but it was one of those afternoons when you just knew that it was going to eventually rain – and it did.
Several nights this week, I have been awakened by thunder, but no rain. And there really hasn’t been that much lightning, either. I remember during fierce storms when you would see the lightning flash and then count the number of seconds until the thunder hit. That way, you could kind of gauge how far away the storm was, but that isn’t what was happening around here.
Rolling thunder, and almost no lightning – all week. On Friday afternoon, I started to hear the thunder, but then something different happened. It didn’t stop – that’s right – the thunder was just a long, low roar that seemed to go on for a minute or more. And that is when my thoughts turned to my childhood.
Although Doug and I ultimately loved storms (this was even before our youngest brother, Ken, was born), I have to admit that when we were very small, only several years old, we both struggled with fear when the weather turned really nasty. But Mom had a special way to calm us down. She would announce to us that hearing thunder meant that God and His angels were bowling in heaven. Now I don’t know if you have ever heard that from your parents, but that is what Doug and I were told as youngsters.
And there was something “safe” in knowing that the thunder shouldn’t be scary – it was the angels playing together and having fun. It has been at least several years since I have thought about my mother’s early attempts to dispel our fears. But this week, hearing the rolling thunder, non-stop, brought me back to those days on south Claremont Avenue in Beverly, laying in my bed, looking up at the sky, listening for the next bowling ball.
Honestly, there was something comforting about the memory. For an instant, I was a little kid again, reveling in the idea that God’s angels were having fun together. And that I got to be a part of it by hearing evidence of their existence!
The Bible is full of references about thunder. There are many verses in the book of Job about nature and, of course, thunder is also under the control of Almighty God. But our verse for tonight comes from another book.
The first real occurrence of thunder occurs in the book of Exodus, when God punishes Egypt with the plagues. We are told, in Exodus 9:23, “When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt…” so, in this instance, thunder announced the wrath of God.
However, not all stories of thunder were negative. In fact, in the book of Revelation, thunder is all about good stuff. We are told, in Revelation 19:6, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns…” This time, it was the angels worshipping God. Imagine that – the roar of rushing waters and sounds like loud peals of thunder – coupled with angels. Maybe Mom wasn’t so far off after all – angels together and having fun – worshipping God.
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to worship Him, based on our desire to worship Him – in other words, free will. My prayer is that we will all worship the Father because we love Him and want to worship Him – not because we believe that we have to… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… And by the way, if you have never thought about the angels bowling, listen hard the next time a storm approaches and you may be surprised at what you hear!