Raising Up a Roar

Coastal storms (often called ”Nor’easters”) in the Outer Banks are a very present reminder of the power of the water. Certainly during storms and hurricanes, we see extraordinary and damaging tides, waves, and flooding. I had a conversation with an Atlanta friend last week about the precariousness of living on a small island off a small island, and explained that sometimes the road connecting us to the main road gets so flooded that it becomes impassable. Of course it is usually a matter of waiting about 12 hours for the wind to shift, but even as I was saying it, I had a renewed appreciation for the majestic and dangerous power of water.

During a recent off-shore storm, I could hear the roar of the ocean from the front steps of my church. Given the fact that the church is located three miles inland, that is saying something.

The 93rd Psalm uses imagery of robes, thrones, floods, and waves to describe the power of God. Even with the first line, we see the psalmist taking a stand against all of the earthly powers and pretender idols:

Psalm 93 (Common English Bible)

The Lord rules!

Right out of the gate, the psalmist makes his position clear … the Lord reigns over everything. Substitutions and fakes need not apply. Then the writer goes on to describe how the Lord is clothed:

He is robed in majesty—
    the Lord is robed,
    clothed with strength.

The word majesty conveys a sense of dignity, sovereign power, and grandeur. The first listeners to this psalm would have had a beautiful word-picture of God that could stand in contrast to the wooden or metal false gods of their neighbors.

Yes, he set the world firmly in place;
    it won’t be shaken.
Your throne is set firm for a very long time.
    You are eternal!

This invites the listener to compare the temporary thrones of the earthly kings to the permanent throne of God. The psalmist contends that there was never a time when God’s throne didn’t exist. What a comforting thought!

Lord, the floods have raised up—
    the floods have raised up their voices;
    the floods raise up a roar!
But mightier than the sound of much water,
    mightier than the sea’s waves,
    mighty on high is the Lord!

Hurricane Irene hit the Outer Banks during the first year that we lived here. The flooding and winds caused $25,000 worth of damage to our home. We lost a chimney, followed by two days of rain water that poured into two rooms of our house. We lost a dock, and the canal water flooded the entire back yard up to the house, where it took out our HVAC system. And we lost a car. When you live through something like that, you understand the power of water and floods. But God’s power is far greater, thanks be to God!

Your laws are so faithful.
    Holiness decorates your house, Lord, for all time.

This short but impactful Psalm is a great reminder today of the strength of the God we serve. There is nothing in this life that has more power than God. There is no earthly power, no force of evil, no demon or antagonist that can ever threaten or harm those who are children of God. Even death bows in obeisance to the eternal throne of the Lord.

No matter what you are up against today, take heart. God rules! His covenant lasts forever! And he is mightier than the storm that you are in. Thanks be to God.

Water’s Power by Michelle Robertson

Reigning over Anger

Have you ever gotten really, really angry at God?

There are times in our lives when confusion, despair, disbelief, and tragedy can make us lie flat on our backs in a darkened room where we work hard just to breathe. The shell shock of abrupt loss can rend us speechless, mindless, and hopeless. A sudden death. A sudden divorce. A sudden business closure. A sudden betrayal. All that is left is anger.

I felt this way many years ago when a precious friend and co-worker died of cancer in her late 40’s. Her kindness and joy were a bright light in every situation, and when cancer did its ugly thing, I thought the warmth of her light had gone from the earth permanently and I was ANGRY at God.

A few months after her death, I went out to the beach in the middle of a terrible storm and stood on a sand dune for hours. The winds and the ocean raged around me as I raged at God. In the end, I came to realize one thing: God is mightier than the loudest thunder of my grief and mightier than the most destructive breakers in my sea of anger. He met me there with the warmth of his light and taught me how to go on and find a light of my own.

Psalm 93 (New International Version)

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity.

Realizing that God is from all eternity puts an exclamation mark where death and loss have tried to leave a question mark. There is nothing to fear when we accept that God’s throne was established long ago, way before our misery began. Even before the devastation came, the Lord on high, mighty and robed in majesty, was present. Without minimizing our agony, God still reigns in the reality of eternity. And so we can let go of our grief and grasp ahold of the hem of his robe, where healing and hope can be found.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice;
    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty.

I don’t know what sorrows or griefs you are dealing with today, but know this: the Lord is greater than your struggle. He sent his only son to die so that you might have life, and have it abundantly. So while you wait to breathe again and for the light to return, look to the one who is mightier than the deepest sea. God longs to soothe you with his love.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

May he reign over your happiness for endless days and nights as you seek the warmth of his strength. His presence is firm and secure, and he will never leave you, no matter how angry you are.

The Seas Lift Up Their Voice by Michelle Robertson