The rain is pouring down here, smacking and smattering against the window like a thousand tiny pebbles, and the wind moans low, a groaning and aching. I am huddled in my bed, cosy-warm with the white duvet over my body, the whole house quiet save for the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.
“I am The Lord, and there is no other”, the Bible says, and I remember that I can know Him, the one God who made the whole earth. Last summer, I was in Greece on holiday, and there was an evening sky streaked with orange and pink, the waves licking my bare feet, and I breathed out that phrase in awe, “He is The Lord, and there is no other”, because it is sunsets and sea that bring me back to the revelation that God is real and beautiful.
But today I am back at home, and it is winter, and the rain is battering the window.
“I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity.”
What do you do with that?
Sometimes I think that Christians don’t really know what is in the Bible. We sing of the God who speaks light into darkness, and that is true, and we speak of the God who brings peace, and that is true, and we sing of the God who paints sunsets, and that is also true, but what do you do with the other stuff?
“I make peace and create calamity.” He calms things down, and stirs them up. This doesn’t sound like the Christian God – this sounds like the Greek gods of myths and legends: capricious, malicious, swatting men in anger when they have lost a bet in heaven.
It sounds scary, but you do need to continue reading.
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, The Lord have created it.” (Is 45:8)
This tells us why he stirs things up. He is not capricious, like the gods of Greek myth. The kind of storms God creates are righteousness-storms.
I look out of the window at the dark sky, and the rain sounds like a machine gun. “Let the skies pour down righteousness.”
We sing our songs, and we think of a gentle mist, but the way that God’s righteousness comes is through a storm, through the sharp smacking of water and air onto a shocked and complacent earth.
“Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation” – that’s an earthquake. God splits the earth in order that righteousness may spring up.
I think of the ways in which my life feels like calamity, feels like being battered, and I wonder if it wasn’t evil after all, if it isn’t all meaningless, if there is perhaps a chance that it is the Lord himself shaking my soul into life. I prefer the gentle evenings of the mediterranean, and the songs in a major key with four simple chords are always easier to sing, but there is an energy here, too, even in the dark skies of angry midwinter, even within my dark heart. Perhaps it is not my heart that is being rattled, but the barriers I have put up around it.
Sometimes I wonder if that which feels like attack is actually salvation, bringing up fresh springs from a broken earth.
It is a strange salvation, this, to be shaken, to be split, to be rattled and slapped with fresh water. It is a strange salvation.
This was a meditation on Isaiah 45, especially vv6b-8, written during a Story Sessions write-in (on a very stormy day.)
[I mentioned on Facebook that my ME hasn’t been great this last month, and although I may not yet be in relapse-ville I am definitely in its suburbs. Life is looking decidedly quiet for me at the moment, which is why the blog has been slack of late… Thank you for your grace and your prayers! ]
Over to you: