Posts Tagged ‘Psalms’

When it Rains it Floods…and Makes Lightening

 

Scripture doodle art by Jennifer Clark Tinker

Scripture doodle art by Jennifer Clark Tinker

Living in Texas has had its ups and downs for me. I’ve had the joy of getting better acquainted with my in-laws, and the honor of being with my mother-in-law in her dying days. I’ve enjoyed spending time outdoors more days out of the year. But I’ve also had the worry of drought, and the terror of lightening striking my house.

Lately we’ve had massive rains and severe flooding near us and my worry and terror leftover from past calamities have crept back up on me.

We were in Houston the other night with flash-flood warnings blaring from smart phones all night. The power at my father-in-law’s house went way down low–I guess you call it a brown-out–but it never went out completely. It was an eery and restless night.

The next morning, interstates and schools were closed all over the metropolis. I was supposed to go to a conference, but I was prevented from making the trip.

We were able to return home safely, and sleep in our own beds the next night. But more rains came that night too. And there were more flash-flood warnings. And there was lightening–violent outbursts of shocking, white light filling the sky, penetrating the darkness of my bedroom.

The lightening that Tuesday night took me back to that night of the lightening striking my house. My breath felt shallow, my heart was in panic mode. I got out of bed–sleep was not even an option at that point–and tried to outsmart the flashes interrupting the darkness by lighting a candle, and I sang and played on my ukulele until the sun showed up Wednesday morning.

The next few days remained edgy for me. The next couple of nights I defied the wet of rains and floods by lighting a fire in my backyard. This was my own little way of trying to take back some measure of control over elements that are actually far beyond my reach.

Saturday came and I needed to pull myself together to prepare a sermon. I had read and re-read the Gospel appointed for Sunday, and had given some thought to my message. But I needed to get to it for real, so I sat down and read all four of the scriptures that were appointed.

[Sidebar: The Lutheran tradition of which I am a part generally uses a 3-year cycle of scripture readings called the Revised Common Lectionary. Each Sunday has four readings appointed; ordinarily these include an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament epistle (or letter), and a New Testament Gospel.]

And I tell you, I know that no cycle of readings can be perfect, but I am so grateful for the tradition of having a lectionary. It helps tremendously to stretch me to read parts of the Bible that I might otherwise overlook. I mean, favorites are favorites for a reason and worth reading and re-reading, so that’s often what I do when I approach scripture on my own.

But Saturday was a shining example of  how my faith, my life, are enhanced by having a lectionary. I would not have happened upon Psalm 29 by chance. But it was appointed for this past Sunday. And the words of that Psalm washed over me with peace and comfort.

Here are some nuggets:

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” –Psalm 29:3-4

“The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.” –Psalm 29:7

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” –Psalm 29:10-11

These words spoke to me in my uneasiness about the weather. For all of the out-of-control I feel, God is bigger yet than those flashes of flooding and of lightening. And I laugh at myself trying to defy the elements, lighting my candles and fires, for God is even above my vanity, my folly, my fires.

I don’t know exactly what it means that God is above all these things. I shudder when some attribute vengeance to God, suggesting that God sent floods to discipline God’s created people. I don’t perceive God as working that way.

For me comfort comes from knowing that God is steadfast. God is not shaken by even the most aggressive tempests. God’s love is a constant on which I can rely–rain or shine.

I am in awe of the work of brothers and sisters in the faith who have woven together lectionaries. I am thankful for this Psalm that spoke to me in the middle of the rain. And I am relaxing into the peace that comes from knowing that God is enthroned over the floods and lightening.

Rain, Rain, What Can I Say?

Artwork by Jennifer Clark Tinker Watercolor with gel pen

Artwork by Jennifer Clark Tinker
Watercolor with gel pen

It has been cold, wet, and rainy all day. And I keep telling myself not to complain because we need the rain.

It was only a few months ago I was fretting about drought conditions, worrying that we weren’t getting the rain we so desperately needed!

So, all day as I have shivered to the bone–I mean, to the bone, people–I have tried not to curse this cold, wet, much-needed rain.

I did complain a while about being cold at lunch out with my husband and son, but I was careful not to curse the rain itself.

“Mom, you really should bundle up more,” was my son’s unsympathetic reply.

I muttered something about not having a warm enough coat, but I did not curse the rain.

Out again into the rain to get into my car, I shivered yet again. Still I did not curse the rain. I blasted the heater as soon as I got my car running, hoping it would warm up noticeably on my way home.

Turning into my driveway, the rain continued its steady downfall. I braced myself for the moment when I would have to quickly gather my belongings and run into my home, trying keep as dry and warm as possible in that transition from car to house.

Then I looked up toward the bend in the driveway and I saw water streaming around the bend from up by the house. I wanted to curse, not the rain, but the gravel driveway that has ruts worn as river-beds.

My gravel driveway with "ruts worn as river-beds" Photo by Jennifer Clark Tinker

My gravel driveway with “ruts worn as river-beds”
Photo by Jennifer Clark Tinker

But then, the word of the the Lord came unto me. A verse of a Psalm sprang to mind:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High. –Psalm 46:4

 These streams of rain are glad tidings for our drought-recovering lands!

And so, my heart was turned from barely holding back curses, to delight. I sat back and laughed at my fickleness about rain–wanting it when I’m scared of drought but cursing it when it gets inconvenient for me.

I laughed at my shivering and my complaining. And I chose gladness instead.

Rain, I know you don’t need my approval. What else can I say, rain, but that I am glad for you streaming here this day.