Of sunsets and thunderstorms…

25 Feb

Last night there was a stunning sunset over Kansas City. The sky was full of stark, vivid colors — the clouds were positioned just so, so that there was no fading at all from one hue into the next. The sky itself was a deep blue. The higher clouds were a dark, royal violet. The lower clouds were entirely illuminated in brilliant oranges, pinks, and yellows. It was breathtaking.

I saw a group of Fire in the Night and Onething interns, huddled on the front walk, waiting for the shuttles — a bunch of young adults (girls and guys) gawking at the clouds as if they had never seen the outside sky before. I could see the mixture of awe and wonder on their faces, and my heart totally went out to them. I got a whole fresh appreciation for this community.

Firstly, it’s remarkable that we have so many young people who even care that the sunset was gorgeous. It was plain outward evidence of hearts that had been tenderized and softened in the place of worship, adoring the One who is truly beautiful, and being made more aware of the beauty surrounding them in creation.

Secondly, I could see that there was much more going on behind those wide eyes than just enjoying a pretty sunset. Their minds were going to a masterful Creator. We were having mini-encounters right there in the parking lot.

Every time I find myself really appreciating something like that in creation, my mind goes back more than two years to when my worship team was doing a Worship with the Word based on Psalm 19. The Psalm begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God…” We would spend briefings talking about the beauty of the Lord revealed in creation, and spend hours on stage singing and praying about it.

One night, we were having a briefing from 11pm-12am. There was a ferocious thunderstorm raging outside — our area had just had a tornado warning issued and then lifted. The rain was coming down in sheets and lightning split the black sky. The thunder was ear-splitting, the kind that explodes directly overhead and rattles the windows. My roommate Shawna and I were making the one-mile drive to the House of Prayer with much fear and trembling and praying in tongues. Thankfully, we made it there on time and in one piece. (Well, two pieces — one was Shawna and one was me. Three pieces, if you count the car.)

We gathered in the Seminar Room to meet with our team, but our briefing would take a much different turn than it ever had before. Clay directed us all out onto the sidewalk under the overhang, bibles and journals in  hand, where we watched the storm, meditating on Psalm 19:1. The heavens declare…

As the thunder shook the very ground beneath us, I found Psalm 77:18 – “The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook.”

That night, I touched a tiny bit of the fear of the Lord. But it was a good fear. A kind of fear that is fascinated and transfixed, but scared silly at the same time. The same way that part of me wanted to run out in the middle of the storm and meet God there, and part of me didn’t want to get the business end of one of those lightning bolts.

My spirit felt like it was ready to burst with a download of how beautifully terrible and terribly beautiful God is. He is the One who was Lord over that storm. Something in that wind and rain was speaking of who He is. He is beautiful. And He’s big. And He’s really powerful. And He’s good. But He’s really big and powerful. But He’s so beautiful. And He’s big. His voice is as thunder. He’s the One who spoke the world into existence, and He could speak it out of existence just as fast. This is the God I try to talk to in the Prayer Room for six hours a night. This is the God who lives inside of me.

Good gravy.

In general, Psalm 19 was not one of our highlight Worship with the Word passages. We didn’t have many sets that just took off with one of those “I think we may get caught up in the Spirit any minute now” moments. But it has proven to be one of the most impacting passages for me in the long term. That verse, Psalm 19:1, has stuck with me ever since that night. Now I can’t see a thunderstorm without thinking of that briefing, and thinking of that mighty Creator who was revealing Himself through it.

Look out the window. The heavens are trying to tell us something.


Posted by on February 25, 2007 in Bible, Heart Stuff, Intimacy with God


10 responses to “Of sunsets and thunderstorms…

  1. Kacie

    February 25, 2007 at 6:36 am

    oh, yes… i went out driving to chase that sunset last night. i didn’t want it to end. it was incredible, indeed.

    last summer when the sun was rising right at the end of each nightwatch, i would go outside and worship the Lord as he painted all over the sky. i thought about psalm 19 a lot, too, and i would sing jenny powell’s song that goes: “the sunrise does prophesy of my beloved’s return” (currently the header picture on my blog… it’s still a great song).

    even the heavens cry out to him… they tell of his majesty and splendor…

    i want cry out like that. dang.

  2. ruthbloem

    February 25, 2007 at 8:18 am

    Aaww…now what a pity that there are no pics of it!

    i remember last summer when i was in kansas, the lightning… Holland we don’t have lightning like that… i think all of us dutchies were just amazed at how beautifully God created all of this. and truly some bible verses really grip you at that moment.
    and the first summer i went to IHOP (2005) they would sing this song: “you paint the skyhyy for me to seehee” man….I love the Creator!

  3. Christine

    February 25, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    This is a beautifully written post. I really enjoyed it.

    On a random note, another blog that I subscribe to had a SOMEWHAT similar title: “On blizzards and temptations”. Interesting, eh?

    I love the way that, as we pursue His beauty, God is awakening our hearts to enjoy beauty more… in Him, in creation, in His people, in the word… all around us.

  4. Amanda Beattie

    February 25, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    @ Ruth: I know! I so regretted not having my camera with me.

    @ Christine: Thanks so much. I think my title sounds a bit more pleasant than that other blog though..

  5. Amanda Beattie

    February 25, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    @ Kacie: No kidding… if I can ever declare God’s glory half as well as the heavens do, I will be a happy camper…

  6. Sarah Sun Kim

    February 25, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    That sunset was no joke.

    Your prose is no joke.

  7. jareddiehl

    February 28, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Only a poet could get away with saying “gawking at the clouds ” but who are you to change who you are, keep slamming down all those glorious lines…and yeah, I do the same thing just when no one is planning to blog about it.


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