Blind Faith – No. 8, 2008

Severe Weather Awareness Week has been observed this week in
Alabama. A project of the National Weather Service, the special focus seeks
to prepare communities for severe weather outbreaks. Individuals and groups
in the community are encouraged to make a plan to follow in case of severe
weather emergencies. Alabama is among the first each year to conduct the
awareness week, with most states following in March and April.

Whether the topic is severe weather or a normal day’s climatological
outlook, weather is a ubiquitous subject. The conversation opener, “How
about this weather we’ve been having!” is a cliche` precisely because
everyone uses it countless times daily. Local TV stations boast that they
report the weather every ten minutes during their morning news shows.
Weather, of course, touches every person’s life. We all live and move in
the atmosphere that is warm or cold, sunny or rainy, sometimes icy and
sometimes parched – the weather.

Something so universal as weather serves as a constant reminder of the
God who made weather and all else. Paul noted the natural pointers to God
in the first paragraphs of the book of Romans: ” From the time the world was
created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can
clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature.”
(Romans 1:20 NLT) The dynamic variations of weather can help us to think of
God’s majesty and power, as well as his care and gentle caress.

As often happens, this path of thought brings a song of the 60’s back to
my mind. One of the first “new songs” emerging in the decade of my youth
that survived and has become a standard in many church hymnals is My Lord
Is Near Me All the Time
. The poetry is simple, but resounds with the
assurance that is expressed in the title, and is affirmed to close each
verse:

In the lightning flash across the sky his mighty power I see
And I know if he can reign on high, his light can shine on me.
I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder, and felt it in the
rain.
My Lord is near me all the time, my Lord is near me all the
time.

When the thunder shakes the mighty hills and trembles every
tree
Then I know a God so great and strong can surely harbor me.
I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder, and felt it in the
rain.
My Lord is near me all the time, my Lord is near me all the
time.

When refreshing showers cool the earth and sweep across the
sea
Then his rainbow shines within my heart, his nearness comforts me.
I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder, and felt it in the
rain.
My Lord is near me all the time, my Lord is near me all the time.
(Barbara F. Gaultney, 1960)

God’s grace is as far-reaching as the weather. No matter what the
conditions we encounter in life, God is as near as the rain, or sunshine, or
the rolling thunder to demonstrate his love for us.

A recording of My Lord Is Near Me All the Time is available to
play on your MP3 player at the following website:

http://www.adnawpublishing.org/html/music.html

The page features CD’s by Wanda Obermeier and Frank King. The first CD,
Obedience (2003), includes My Lord Is Near Me All the Time as
Track 8. Scroll down to the title and click on the MP3 link to play the
song. The arrangement treats the melody in a somewhat unusual way, but the
beauty of the lyrics sparkles.

I find great comfort in hearing or singing My Lord Is Near Me All the
Time
. Paul emphasized the idea in his earliest preaching. In a notable
sermon in the Areopagus in Athens, Paul assured his audience, ” God wanted
them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him,
though he is not far from any of us: {28} ‘We live in him. We walk in him.
We are in him.'” (Acts 17:27-28a NCV) God encompasses us as intimately as
we are surrounded by the weather. All we have to do is to speak quietly in
order for God to relate with us, because he is always so close. As David
knew and sang, ” The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on
him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18 NRSV)

God’s nearness, inextricably combined with his omnipotence and
unfathomable grace, offers us sublime comfort in any distress. Eugene
Peterson brings that assurance to life in his setting of the Psalms:

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue
you.
If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.
(Psalm 34:17-19 The Message)

Not only is this idea expressed by David and others who have experienced
the transforming, life-giving immanence of God, but God speaks directly
about his nearness and his desire to have us make the short reach to connect
with him. God assured us through the prophet Isaiah, ” Pay attention, come
close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m
making a lasting covenant commitment with you…. Seek God while he’s here
to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon
their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to
God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.”
(Isaiah 55:3-4, 6-7, The Message) Whatever situations I may face,
God himself promises, “My Lord is near me all the time.”

Everytime you hear a weather report this week, let your thoughts center
upon God’s presence, his closeness to you. Share the joy of your sunshiny,
successful, triumphant day with God, who is right there with you! In the
inclement days of defeat, depression, and drab loneliness, pour your soul
out to God, who is with you every step of the way. Even more ubiquitous
than the weather, God is near you all the time.

J. Edward Culpepper, Ph.D.