Today, I was wide awake and feeling happy and peaceful as I drove to work. It didn’t matter that it was 3:00 am. I could feel my heart beating rhythmically and energy was buzzing through my body making me feel very alive and aware. Though I always enjoy driving in the early morning darkness, I’m normally not this awake and alert. But today…today was very different.
I drove down Highway 435 with a smile on my face as I sang along to the songs that were streaming out of my stereo. About twenty minutes later, I turned into the lot and parked the car. I didn’t get out of my car immediately. I sat in silence for a few minutes as I contemplated the day ahead of me. Suddenly, I heard a beating and pounding cadence against my car. Rain! I sighed excitedly. I love rain, especially when it is accompanied by thunder and lightning. Now, I was happy to just sit still and listen to the rain beating against the roof and windshield of the car as a thunderstorm began to brew all around me. I have never been afraid of thunderstorms. I love hearing the thunder clattering around me. The sizzle of lightning crackling across the sky always electrifies me. Thunderstorms always make me feel that there is something more, that there is something bigger than what we are in this world. I like to be reminded that there is a powerful universe all around us that supercharges our very beings and creates our destinies. Thunderstorms also remind us that we are stronger and more powerful than we have ever imagined. It’s empowering to know that we can weather the storms.
This morning, while I sat in quiet contemplation listening to the rain, I remember something that my mother had told me when I was about five-years-old. When I was a child, my mother told me that whenever a storm occurred on Good Friday, it was God crying out and raging over the death of his son, Jesus Christ, who had been crucified on that day. And it seems, ever since my mother told me this, there has been a storm on every Good Friday I have spent in my hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. I used to love lying on the floor of our family home, staring out the large picture window in the front room as a powerful storm brewed outside on Good Friday. I love feeling, with every slap of thunder and crack of lightning, that God is all around me. I love to think that I can witness the complex emotions of an almighty God in every thunderstorm on a Good Friday. I am fascinated that God can be so hurt and so angry over a moment that held such great meaning for him. If God could rage over the memory of his son’s death, I surmise, then how incredibly great his passion must be. I love knowing a God that is emotional and impassioned. I love knowing a God that can care so deeply about his people that he can display all levels of emotion.
So ever since my childhood, I anxiously look forward to thunderstorms on Good Friday. And so, today, Good Friday, April 14, 2017, I was sitting in my car in the middle of a thunderous downpour. As the storm raged all around me, I said several words of gratitude to God and Jesus Christ for their many sacrifices to save their people.
Finally, my prayer completed, I opened my car door. It was going to be a long run to the building because I had to park at the back of the lot. I took a deep breath and got out of the car. I took my first few steps forward and suddenly I felt overwhelmed. The rain bouncing onto the earth released an amazing aroma that made my heart swell. For me, the smell of rain on earth is completely intoxicating.
I didn’t want to run now. I wanted to walk slowly in the rain and breathe in the earth. I wanted to glory in the feel of the rain against my skin and enjoy the wonders of the universe and the dramatic emotions of a passionate God.
Finally, I walked into building and was relieved to realize that I could still hear the rain against the roof as I went about my work. I worked hard throughout the day, but I did stop every few minutes to listen to the rain and pray as I tried to stay in a state of grace during a workday that can be usually be frustrating. To keep myself in a sacred space, every now and then, I would wonder over to the back doors and stare outside to watch the rain fall over the ground. On this holy day, the day of Christ’s crucifixion, the thunder, lightning, and rain kept me in a pure state of being. Eventually, I got caught up in my work and had to stop wandering off. But I still remained at peace
Finally, my workday ended. I walked outside…and immediately smiled. The afternoon was flooded with bright glorious sunshine. Brilliant golden rays sparked out between the clouds and warmed my skin. The rays shined down on me as if I had been kissed by angels. And I knew that God loved the world so immensely he had given his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. And now, the glorious sunshine let me know that he had forgiven his people. God above all knows unconditional love. No matter what we do he will never forsake us. The occasion reminded me of God’s great passion and love for his people. God rages and then forgives…and always, above all, he forever loves. This is what the entire season of Easter is all about. Sacrifice, rain, fear, storms, guilt, lightning, sunshine, love, warmth, peace…forgiveness. God’s emotions are on display. He is one of us—dramatic and emotional and passionate. But so far above us with his kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. And above all, God’s storms continually demonstrate his immense love for his people even though we are far from perfect. We are forever in his grace.
This is why I love thunderstorms…especially on Good Friday.