A few years ago, I was walking to my car late at night after closing my restaurant job. It wasn’t raining, but there was a storm brewing in the distance. Gusts of wind. Soft, rolling thunder. Flashes of lightning. You could feel the energy in the air, hinting at what was coming. But there were still patches of clear sky and bright stars poking through the clouds here and there. I drove to the edge of a field near my house and parked there so I could watch the sky and feel the wind. On a night like that, there was just no avoiding the presence of God. His power was on display.
There are only a handful of times that I can remember being genuinely awestruck. That night is one of them. The beauty and the power around me were shocking; they led me into a posture of worship like all beauty does when we give it the opportunity to.
Llewlyn Powys, a 20th-century British author, said that “No sight is more provocative of awe than the night sky.” The night sky and, I would add, the stormy sky. As Shakespeare’s contemporary Thomas Nashe put it, “Who heareth the thunder, and thinks not of God?”
I believe that there is almost nothing on earth that more clearly displays the power of God to us than a storm. One of my favorite verses is Nahum 1:3 — “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”
Scripture uses the imagery of thunderstorms repeatedly in Scripture to describe God.
“Moses spoke, and God answered Him in thunder” (Exodus 19:19).
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of thunder” (Revelation 14:2).
“The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty” (Psalm 29:3-4).
Thunderstorms are not just a thing that can inconvenience our schedules, scare our dogs, and damage our homes. They are displays of the character of God, especially His power. He speaks in thunder.
But storms are only one of the ways God displays His beauty. Thunder is not the only thing in the sky that the Lord uses to lead us to worship.
When He created the world, God created heavens that declare His glory to us (Psalm 19:1). John Piper describes it as “the ministry of God through the sky.”
He didn’t have to give us the sky. He could have used any number of means to regulate our climate and water the earth and function as the boundaries of our atmosphere. But He gave us a sky, with sunsets that look so different each evening, stars that we can study for entire lifetimes and never lose wonder at, clouds that are the work of a master artist, and storms that strike us with awe. He didn’t have to make it beautiful, but He did.
Have you looked up at the sky recently and praised God for the beauty He’s displaying there? Have you heard His voice in the thunder? Author Wendell Berry says that it is our pride that often keeps us from letting beauty lead us to God: “We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence.”
Beauty is in our sky every single day. That should be an amazing reality for us because beauty stirs us to praise, and our very purpose is, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” God gave us the means to do that right above our heads every day.
Sunsets, stars, clouds, storms — all of it points us to Him. Let it lead us to worship. Whether it is the roar of thunder or the gradual setting of the sun in all its splendor, creation is singing forth the praises of the Creator if we will only listen.