God is Holding Our Lives: Awe and Wonder; Psalm 29
Plymouth First United Methodist Church, January 17, 2021
Pastor Toni Carmer
How does God get your attention?
Do you lift your eyes up and turn to God when something happens in your life that you’re not sure how to deal with?
Do you see God when you look out into the world and see beauty? A pink sunrise or an orange sunset introducing the new day or night? When you see the sun shine on frost-covered trees?
Where do you hear God’s voice? In the laughter of children? In the sound of the cold wind blowing outside your window, reminding you to be thankful for such “basic” things as electricity and heat?
How does God get your attention?
David writes this Psalm, describing God’s voice as one heard in a thunderstorm. A loud and powerful and majestic thunderstorm that booms sound and unleashes fiery flames into the sky—shaking the wilderness, shattering even the great cedars of Lebanon.
How does God get your attention?
A huge thunderstorm was probably the loudest sound heard by the ancients, one that we don’t always experience in its full glory, as we have the ability to muffle the loud behind closed doors and windows. We may miss it completely because of TV’s blaring, stereos playing, earbuds firmly planted in our ears. Unless the electricity goes out…unless you’re in your car traveling and the rain is pouring down so hard that you can no longer see and so you pull off to the side of the road to wait for it to pass…unless you’re in a tent camping…and then you’re amazed at the volume, at how the earth trembles, how the darkness disappears at the flash of the lightening and God’s power is revealed.
A thunderstorm wasn’t a frightening thing in David’s time. The rain was important for a good harvest. I’m sure if a person was caught unexpectedly in a downpour that they would run for shelter just like we do, but there was no way to completely escape it, no way to fully insulate oneself from the sound, from the power. The storm provided the opportunity to stop…to listen…and perhaps to hear God’s voice.
How, today, does God get your attention? Where do you hear God’s voice?
It seems that so often—too often—we are of the opinion that we can take care of ourselves. We are a very capable people. We’ve been trained and educated. We’re experienced. We’re skilled in communicating, organizing, and fixing stuff. If we don’t know how to do it ourselves, we know where to go, and generally speaking, we have the resources to take care of those things…those things we really need. And want. We’re pretty self-sufficient in so many ways.
But then, we encounter a personal kind of storm over which we realize we have no control. We get sick, and the doctor who knows so much more about it than we would even want to know says, I don’t know. I wish we could, but we can’t fix this.
The EMS comes and picks up our spouse, or we drop them off at the ER and can’t go any further. We wait for updates. And they seem to take forever. We pray. And we trust God is listening and that our loved one is being cared for, that it will all turn out alright.
Maybe your storm has to do with what’s happening at work. There’s a problem—maybe your boss doesn’t listen, maybe a coworker is difficult, maybe your work has been down-sized and you’re doing things that weren’t always your responsibility. Maybe you haven’t been able to receive the training you need to do the job well, maybe you’re just tired. Working at home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s got to be perks greater than being able to wear jammie pants while you’re on a zoom meeting.
Or maybe, you’ve lost your job. You wish you could work. But now, you can’t.
Maybe your storm has to do with your marriage, or with your children. This has been a hard time for a lot of families. We don’t all have the ability to tutor our kids at home when that needs to happen. I was done being helpful with Math when our daughter was in junior high however many years ago. I see my granddaughter’s 5th grade work now, and I couldn’t help her if she asked. (Thankfully she hasn’t).
Maybe you’re a teacher and you’re trying to take care of a classroom and the students who are trying to learn from home, too. You knew teaching wouldn’t be a piece of cake, but Lord, have mercy. You didn’t expect this, either.
Most likely, Covid contributes to your storm, if it isn’t the source of it. You’re chomping at the bit to get out and to do life like you want to, or you’re sheltering in the safety of your home, not wanting to take any chances. We’re all grateful for the vaccine, trying to hold on…just a while longer.
And then, to pile one storm onto another, there are the threats of violence in the next few days as we prepare for the inauguration of a new president. We’re not sure what will happen. No matter your politics, I may be naïve, but I didn’t expect our differences would bring us to this. So, we pray for our national leaders, our police and military in Washington D.C. and in our capitals across the nation. We pray for a change in heart in those considering violence. We pray for peace.
How does God get your attention? Where do you hear God’s voice? In this day? In this age? When we think we can do it on our own. When we look out at our world and everything that’s happening and begin to wonder if God cares…if God is listening…if God has the ability to FIX all this.
This Psalm reminds us of God’s power and God’s might. It reminds us that God is the source and the power and the center of all things. Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we conclude by saying, “For thine is the power and the glory forever.” I believe that! I know it’s true! And yet, at the same time, I admit that I tend to focus on God’s grace, probably because I rely on that so heavily. But God is not only the one with a still small voice…who speaks in sheer silence…but God’s Word is revealed in the glory and majesty of the storm.
And yet there’s more, for us to see…to hear…to know. The fullness of God cannot be understood without the Good News of the Gospel. Without Jesus. Through Jesus, we have come to know that God is love…that God speaks to us through relationships, that everything God does is to bring our redemption. The storms aren’t to frighten us. But maybe, to catch our attention. To help us listen.
And so, let us receive this Psalm, and may it be a reminder to all of us, that in spite of the personal storms we are dealing with today, God is more powerful. God rules. And God will lead us through and into a better day.
That’s the good news. Amen.