I first heard this evocative phrase in my freshman political science class in college when we were discussing Thomas Paine’s impact on the American Revolutionary War. Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, had so shocked and galvanized revolutionary thinkers that it was said of him, “He burst forth on the world like Jove in thunder.”
Twenty-four years after first hearing that phrase it still comes back to me sometimes. Jove is the Latin form of Jupiter, the Roman version of the Greek god, Zeus, and he was known as the god of thunder and sky. Thus Paine’s revolutionary thinking was compared to a burst of thunder from the heavens.
Has God ever done that for you? Has He ever burst forth upon your world with a flash of light or brilliance? Has He ever parted the clouds of discouragement or despair and replaced them with His hope?
He’s done it for me many times, and I think that’s why I like the phrase so much. It transcends Thomas Paine, or any other human thinker, and describes a dynamic that is a periodic part of our journey of faith. We don’t see lightning bolts from heaven every day, indeed sometimes we go through long stretches without seeing much of anything, but eventually it happens. Lightning flashes…clouds part…illumination occurs…vision comes into focus…and we’re empowered to live another day.
Make it a habit of remembering these moments. Record them in your journal when they happen. If it’s been a while since you’ve had one, let’s pray that the next one comes quickly. And let’s also pray that you and I become these moments for someone else. Perhaps our entrance into someone else’s life will bring such positive momentum to their journey that it will be said of you and me, “Through them, God burst into my world like Jove in thunder.”