Monday, March 24, 2014

A Building Thunderhead
There are days when I want to shove God into action.  I read of the injustices around the world--stories of brother slaughtering brother, of women being trafficked instead of protected, of children living in fear and extreme poverty, or of one group seeking to wipe another from the face of our planet in the name of religion.

I feel a mixture of anguish and anger at the injustice of it all, often asking why our most patient God doesn't step in and just put an end to all this suffering.  This isn't how it was meant to be.

My prayers repeat the words of the martyrs beneath the altar in Revelation who call out, "'How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'" (Rev. 6:10).  No matter my impatience, God continues to wait; it is as if I have received those saints' same answer: "a little while longer" (v.11).

"How long, O Lord,"  I push-- impatient, antsy, lacking comprehension of who or what He is waiting on.  And yet, all the while, He sits in perfect patience.

The prophet Isaiah describes this patience as a building thunderstorm: "For thus the LORD has told me, 'I will look from My dwelling place quietly Like dazzling heat in the sunshine, Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.'" (Is. 18:4).

I have watched such clouds of morning dew transform ever so slowly into the wrathful thunderstorm caused by a Louisiana summer's "heat of harvest." In the morning, clouds stretch small and thin on the horizon, streaks of translucent gray against the brilliant aqua of a sunlit sky.

By noon, I compare both how dark and opaque as well as how high and how wide the heat has made the clouds to determine whether or not the storm will come; yet, despite modern meteorology and radar available on every smart phone, there is still no telling if or when or even where the day's heat will build to the breaking point.  Those clouds are still, ultimately, a mystery.

What's more, even in those times of drought when cities and sometimes entire states are praying for such showers of rain to come, there is no rushing or forcing those droplets to fall.

This is the image of our God, waiting to enact judgment.  The word used in verse four is "quietly."  Unlike me at times, He is not concerned about the unjust getting away with anything because He always has an eternal view versus my short-sighted, temporal one.  Unlike me, He will not be rushed.  Also, His timing cannot be predicted with any certainty.

We do not know the when or the where.  The only certainty in this simile is that His storms of judgment will come.  And when they do, they will be at the perfect time: "For before the harvest, as soon as the bud blossoms And the flower becomes a ripening grape, Then He will cut off the sprigs with pruning knives And remove and cut away the spreading branches" (Is. 18:4-5).

The next time we witness injustices around us--perhaps even suffer greatly from them, ourselves--we must keep this image of God in our minds, as a God quietly, slowly building wrath as a thunderstorm in the summer afternoon heat.

It is am image both to fear and to give comfort, depending on where you are in your relationship with Him.

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