Last night we sat outside watching an impressive line of thunderstorms slowly roll in from the west. We were visiting TJ and Julie in Greensburg, Kansas. So, the endless expanse and far horizons of central Kansas makes storms visible long before you can actually hear the first rumblings of thunder. Greensburg, you may recall, was the Kansas town all but wiped from the face of the earth in 2007 by an EF-5 tornado.
Seriously. Why would we sit there, surrounded by the evidence of that night of destruction five years ago and watch a great thunderstorm building and rolling toward us? -- the long streaks of continuous lightening spread across the sky as we feel the first edge of sudden drop in temperature the storm would bring?
Some of the most enthralling things we are drawn toward are incredibly violent and powerful and dangerous. We are thankful for a gentle sweet spring rain, but we don't go out and sit and watch it approach with open mouthed wonder. There is often no clear line between fear and wonder. There is a inescapable link between threat and thrill.
Jeremiah ridiculed the idols of his day by describing them as nothing more than scarecrows in a cucumber patch. "Don't be afraid of them," the prophet concludes. "They can't do you any harm whatsoever and so, of course, neither can they do you any good." (Jeremiah 10:5)
A God too close and too gentle is like a child's stuffed bear. Great to hug but useless to defend off wolf attacks.
Every so often it is just good to be good and scared. Not all fear is incompatible with faith. In Narnia, Lucy learns this about Aslan. In Sinai ,Moses learns this about God. John, laying face downward on Patmos, learns this about Jesus.
We need to know the fear or we will never feel the wonder.
"God of wonders beyond our galaxy, you are holy! You are holy!"
Maybe, at least every once and awhile, we should sing that one on our knees, with our faces to the ground.
"We worship God with fear and wonder, because our God is an all consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28-29)