Written By Natalie Waterson
When it comes to describing beauty, people often like to reference nature, for example:
Tranquillity: the vivid colours of a sunset, red hues and golden rays, seen on the horizon over a calm, crystal glass sea.
Delicacy: a field of brightly coloured fragrant flowers, lifting their faces towards the sun, as bees and butterflies flutter from blossom to blossom, tasting the sweet nectar.
Peacefulness: a quiet path cut through a thick, green, luscious, forest; surrounded on both sides with incredibly tall trees. The twittering of wild birds, the chattering of monkeys, and the gentle breeze through the branches fill the air. The smell of pine and wet foliage fills your nostrils with an unforgettable scent as crisp leaves crunch beneath your feet.
But what would you use to describe incredible power and might? What first comes to my mind is a dramatic thunderstorm – like only the good folks of Pretoria understand. Even before the skies open up, you can feel the electricity in the air. The skies darken, clouds gather - warning that something fantastic is about to happen.
Slowly, in the distance, there will be a soft rumble; a faint noise. At first, you’re not sure whether what you've heard is actual thunder or not. There are pockets of silence in the atmosphere where nothing happens and nature holds it's breath with you; waiting in anticipation. Then a flash of electric energy; a lightning bolt splits the sky – never to hit the same place twice. From one long streak to a vein of many lines, you sit at the window, staring up at the ominous sky – wondering where the next bolt will strike.
If anyone was still outside, it’s at this point that they'd head indoors; knowing that remaining outside could prove detrimental to their health and safety.
It’s clear now that the sound you heard earlier was indeed thunder. It races closer, roaring down a mountainside or hill. Like an unstoppable freight train, it barrels towards you, increasing in tempo and volume, spiking one’s heart rate as the decibels get louder and louder.
With your feet resting on the floor, you can feel the tremors underfoot, the window panes in your house rattle and the lights begin to flicker. Then the skies open up and the clouds burst – sending forth a deafening outpouring of water to the earth’s parched surface. Quickly, puddles become rivulets, flooding gardens and soaking the ground. The gentle tapping against a window pane becomes a little more aggressive as hailstones now pelt the glass and roofs everywhere. Suddenly, a green garden is transformed by a thin, top layer of small, white, spherical ice.
Folks breathe a sigh of relief as the temperature begins to drop. But, just as suddenly as it all started, it seems to vanish, evaporating into thin air. Except for dampened streets and paving, it’s like the storm never even happened at all. The sun moves out from behind the clouds and the birds come out to sing. All is as it was before.
In case you haven’t already guessed, I love thunderstorms. But, I love them because I have the solid, certain protection of my house. I’m not sure I’d appreciate it just as much if I were living outdoors. If my shelter was a cardboard box or and the only cover I could find was at a bus terminal, or somewhere wedged between the sharp corners of a building. It’s my protected covering that allows me to enjoy the majesty of a storm.
It reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the man who built his house on the rock – compared to that of the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The storm destroyed his foundation and, in addition, his home (Matthew 7:24-27).
Storms will touch our lives, both in the physical and spiritual sense. But, it’s up to us to ensure what kind of shelter we take refuge in. Christ is our rock, our firm foundation, our solid, certain shelter in the wildest of storms. But if we’re not living in His power, then we’re living in peril. Really, it’s our choice.
He won’t kick in our doors and invite Himself in. He’ll stand at the door – and knock – and wait.
And while we’re living life under our own strength and might – those storms can be terrifying, damaging, and destructive. But, when we no longer need to protect ourselves, when we give it all up to Him and trust Him, we can take shelter in His security, gaze out His window, and finally appreciate the true power of the storm.