Years ago as a young volunteer minister living in Alabama, far from home and lonely, I relished the prospect of a good lightning storm.  I grew up in a desert – once in second grade, they canceled school because of an 80% chance of snow – so seeing majestic weather was wonderful.  Lightning, thunder, and the whipping rain witness the raw might and majesty of nature and the Creator, and I remember reflecting as a young minister if this was anything like Elijah’s experience:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire:  and after the fire a still small voice.

1 Kings 19:12

My good friend Omid Safi, Professor of Islamic Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, has shared this same wonder many times in North Carolina:

Muslim mystics like Ibn ‘Arabi say that the heart of the faithful is held between the ‘two fingers’ of the All-Merciful.

It has helped me to see that even as love and gentleness of rain are aspects of God, so is the awesome and majestic thunder.

–From Omid’s beautiful article God of Thunder, God of Rain in RNS.

His observation also reminds me of another wonderful memory from my days in Alabama, a favorite passage from the hymn How Great Thou Art:

I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

…How great Thou art!


A Christian artist and a Muslim professor, we stand in awe of the Lord of Storms, Al-Jalil, Al-Latif – the Glorious, Full of Grace.