Lead From The Lightning

Dark skies are the perfect canvas for one of the most powerful meteorological phenomena we know – lightning. And the majesty of lightning occurs when something unseen, but no less powerful, is at work behind the scenes. The same is true in worship.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
Psalm 97:2-4 (NIV)

We’ve all seen it in a dark, stormy sky, and no matter how many times it makes an appearance, every one of us is filled with some degree of amazement. It’s a creative flash never appearing the same way twice, a discharge of potent electrical force. And it can crack a tree, strike fire to a building, or simply appear like Grace, as a spectacle for the dazzled eye.

It is lightning, and lighting is the result of something unseen happening that leads to its appearance. A meteorological phenomena happens when two masses of air, of different densities and temperatures, come crashing into one another. The result is a sign, a wonder, a physical glimpse of what is going on in the atmosphere.
In worship, the Spirit of God, distributing God’s great love and will for the human heart, is moving through the room. When a human heart opens itself to an encounter, the spirit of a person becomes the second front in the sacred sky.

And what happens when these two fronts meet? A flash and a crack of thunder later, a quiet miracle has occurred – a person has found themselves in communion with Jesus – and transformations can begin that otherwise may have never begun.

A heart can yield to the love of God, a mind can see the error in its thinking, a will can choose to bend in a new way, or an ache of loss can transform into joy and trust.

All because worship created a unique space, a holy place, for those fronts to meet. Sometimes we see the lightning, and we should take encouragement when we do. Sometimes, we only hear the thunder, and we should be confident unseen lightning gave it sound. And sometimes, perhaps the sweetest times, the flashes of change are all occurring for someone else’s eyes to see.

Worship is a storm front; lead from the lightning.

A Prayer

God that lights up the world, we thank you that sometimes we get to see what is happening in the hearts of those we are leading in worship. We take encouragement from those moments You give us. We are also thankful for the unseen transformations going on when people sing their prayers and meet You in a way that only You and they will ever know. Give us eyes to see what You are doing in our community as we lead worship, and let our own hearts be a storm front today as we do.

In Jesus’ awesome, sky-lighting name,

Amen. +


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Sheltering Mercy and Endless Grace help us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation. Sheltering Mercy helps the reader pray Psalms 1-75; Endless Grace leads in prayer through Psalms 76-150.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. Each book contains 75 prayers drawn from the Book of Psalms, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning there. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

These artful, poetic, and classic devotional books are a perfect gift, and feature compelling stunning illustrations and hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms. Co-written with Ryan Whitaker Smith, Brazos Publishing.

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