Into the Storm
Positioning the Heart to Encounter Wonder
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from
the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and
threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an
earthquake (Revelation 8:4-5).
Lightning does strike twice in the same place. In fact, there is a place that lightning
strikes again and again night and day. It is the highest seat of power and the holiest
place in existence. As such, the purest form of worship surrounds it. No worshipper
there gives a half-hearted song. There are no “Jesus is My Homeboy” t-shirts worn
where elders throw down their crowns. That lightning proceeding from the throne
of Jesus keeps everyone guessing. Who can predict the path of lightning? Worship in
heaven is unpredictable, sparking awe-filled wonder in the saints, elders, and
angels. No one just sings songs there. They tremble. They are so caught up in God’s
splendor that most of them just repeat themselves; “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord.”
Encountering the sights and sounds surrounding the throne enables any bored
song-singer to recover the wonder of it all. There is a beautiful storm all around His
throne. Enter the wonder-filled storm and receive devotional lightnings.
Many do not consider this, but the Book of Revelation is a glimpse into an Apostle’s
devotional life. He was a human being, just like you and I named John. He begins the
book saying “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” and ends the book with an “Amen.
Come quickly Lord Jesus.” So, reading Revelation is really a glimpse into a lightning-
hearted disciple’s prayer closet. John has released wonder-filled- worship at the
holiest place in existence, God’s throne, and as a result, returns from Heaven with
thunder on his words to change the world.
Positioning Ourselves To Enter This Wonder-filled Storm
John’s statement, “I was in the Spirit…” doesn’t mean that he was in the natural
realm and then suddenly entered the realm of the Spirit, the realm of wonder. An
actual rendering of this verse suggests that John “came to be in the Spirit.” John
positioned himself to be in the Spirit. John did not encounter the throne of Yahweh
by sitting around waiting for something to happen. He positioned himself in
devotion. We can position ourselves in devotion so that we may “come to be in the
Spirit.” John was making lightning on the inside. He was positioning himself in the
Spirit. More specifically, he was cultivating personal intensity before God through
the spiritual disciplines of prayer and solitude on Patmos. The result of positioning
himself in the Spirit enabled him to worship before the throne and return in the
power of the Spirit. I like to say he was becoming the Lord’s vent.
Lightning is formed because of an unbalanced electrical charge in the atmosphere
during a storm. A person full of interior lightning becomes that way because they’ve
embraced an unbalanced devotional lifestyle in the wonder-storm. It was a storm
that made a sixteenth century reformer named Martin Luther. He responded to the
call of God on his life during a real lightning storm that almost took his life. He was
so terrified by the strikes flashing closely by that he cried out to God to save him. He
vowed that if the Lord would spare his life from the storm he would become a monk,
and so he did. But the pressure wasn’t off. After entering the rigors of monastic life,
Luther would become a reformer as he gave himself to relentless search for God in
Scripture and an overhaul of his own devotional life. His unbalanced devotion to
Jesus over tradition, while sparked by a natural storm at first, would eventually
produce a spiritual storm, an unbalanced hunger for truth. Luther lived out the
proverb, “If a man’s life be lightning his voice will be thunder.”
Luther began to vent those fiery truths of the bible that had kindled in his heart with
the boldness of David facing Goliath. He took the hammer of God’s word and nailed
his arguments to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany on All Saints Day
1517. This event sparked the Protestant Reformation. What Luther saw in the
Scripture was vastly different than what the religion of his day forced upon him.
The truth of God’s word was like a volcano in Luther’s heart and the result was a
man venting through preaching, writing, praying, and reforming culture. I believe
we are in desperate need of tenderhearted devotional reformers today that reform
the Church to a Kingdom expression focused on the beautiful King.
When a person with a bright heart and conviction on their words encounters the
Wonder Realm of God, we’ve got a messenger, a builder, a discipler of nations. In
Revelation 4, John stood in the stormy presence of God on His throne. John said,
“From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder” (Rev.
4:5). It is no surprise that John came out of this experience with a life as lightning
and words as thunder to the church and the culture.
Can you imagine being the first person to talk with John when he got off the island of
Patmos? Can you imagine his urgency to deliver those prophecies to the seven
churches in Asia Minor? After his encounter at the throne, can you imagine John’s
resolve to see Jesus glorified in the nations of the earth? I don’t think there is a
church today ready for that John. Perhaps, it’s that wonder-struck John we need the
most. This man had just been to the stormy throne of God, saw unique
manifestations of the beauty of Jesus, heard Jesus call the churches to be triumphant
overcomers, heard Jesus declare what He values in those believers, heard Jesus
warn believers that their names could be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life, and
heard Him warn churches that their Lampstands could be removed. This man was a
lightning bolt. John was anything but balanced. What would our response be today
if John walked into our churches fresh from Patmos?
Get Back In Your Cage
Devotional reformers are always told, “it doesn’t take all that.” But they’ve entered
the storm and encountered the Wonder Realm in Jesus. They are no longer bent
toward backsliding. It is as if they’ve been magnetized toward Jesus on the throne.
They’re wonder struck. The demonstration of His love on the cross has stirred them
to respond with whole-hearted obedience. When they are told “It doesn’t take all
that,” it sounds to these wonder-filled- worshipers like “Get back in your religious
cage.” That’s not happening.
They believe that our secret place can look like the book of Revelation and that our
walk with Jesus can look like the book of Acts. They’ve refused the taming of
religion. An encounter with the Wonder Realm released lightning before their eyes
and filled them with lightning on the inside. This interior lightning and internal
flame must have a vent. The Lord’s vent, that is what a witness for Jesus is. That is
what a reformer is. A reformer allows the Lord to vent through them to impact
change for God’s glory in the lives of others.
“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole
body also is full of light.” (Luke 11:34)
Of course, reformers must start the reformation with themselves. They’ve allowed
the candle of the Lord to thoroughly search their darkest places, received grace to
change, and have become a change agent for the Kingdom. Surely, they’ve allowed
Jesus to mantle them with His jealousy. It is real to them that they belong to a God
who refuses to share them. Jesus has great desire to protect what is precious to Him
and to remove anything that hinders loyal love. So this pure jealous lightning in
their heart comes out, or vents with thunder; it is going to be heard.
Three Questions to Consider as You Enter The Wonder-Storm:
1. Can you identify storms in your life that impacted your devotion to God? Did
you shrink back or did the storm actually set you up to move more toward
2. What is it that you burn for? Can you identify your passions or things that
you want to see set right? Ask the Lord how you can become the Lord’s vent.
3. What is it that you do to position yourself in the Spirit?