The Upper Room Devotion for Wednesday, July 26, 2023, was written by Lea Anne Foster of Virginia.
16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. 20 When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. 22 Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” 23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’ ” 24 The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Exodus 19:16-25 NRSV
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
My brother died on a June afternoon. That evening as a major storm rolled in, I felt drawn outside. Wind whipped at my tear-streaked cheeks and blew my hair in every direction. Shades of gray, blue, and orange streaked the sky. I looked heavenward and saw a flash of lightning and heard the powerful thunder. I stood outside until pelting rain drove me back inside. I was filled with unbearable grief. I wanted and needed my brother. But I knew that through this awe-inspireing display, God was saying, " Your brother, whom I love, is here with me."
In the months following my brother's death, I've read my Bible and prayed. God directed me to Exodus 19, where the Lord met Moses on Mount Sinai. The scripture took on a new meaning for me as I read of thunder, lightning, thick clouds, and the quaking mountain announcing God's presence. I was reminded of the display I witnessed the day my brother died. God called to me through nature, and I was in God's presence during the storm. God grieved with me, and offered comfort and love for the journey ahead. And God has stayed with me since.
Recently we have experienced a number of thunderstorms that have travelled through the area. With each roar of thunder, flash of lighting, gust of wind, and down pour of rain, we have prayed: Please let the power stay on! From time to time, we may feel like we are enduring spiritual storms that threaten to disconnect us from our source of power. Yet, in the midst of the raging storms, God offers us hope and courage. It does not matter how fierce our storms may be, God walks with us and helps us to focus on the blue skies that lay ahead.
Dear heavenly Father, help us notice the signs that you are here with us during all the storms of life. Amen.
- Lea Anne Foster