The Lord on High is Mighty
by Andy Cokayne 18 November 2020
We have often holidayed in Northumberland, where we enjoy visiting friends and familiar places. Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, is one of our favourites. When the tide closes the causeway to the mainland, all of a sudden the pace of life drops noticeably. Instead of rushing to beat the tide to get on or off the island, unless you are foolhardy enough to try and drive across the causeway on a rising tide, you can relax knowing that the majority of tourists have gone, and for a few hours you are isolated on an island.
It is a significant christian place, as it was where monks from Iona, who had originally travelled from Ireland, established a base on the British mainland, from where they could travel as missionaries to spread the gospel. Where some of the early saints like Aidan and Cuthbert were Bishops, and where the Lindisfarne Gospels were written.
On a rock overlooking the mainland is a small brown plate, which reads as above. ‘Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the Lord on high is mighty.’ The description of the power of the sea echoes the mythology of the ancient world, where order had to be established against the massive powers of chaos represented by the raging of the seas, and human beings remained in constant fear that such terrors would return to overwhelm and destroy civilisation. The psalmist acknowledges the terrifying force of the waves of the sea and the very real threat they pose, yet he knows a power ‘Mightier than the thunder of the great waters’ because ‘the Lord on high is mighty’.
We read in Genesis 1 v2 ‘Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.’ God tamed these formless turbulent waters, and out of chaos came perfect creation. So the raging of the sea can be celebrated here, because above them towers our mighty God. The monks could live on an island surrounded by the turbulent North Sea, knowing that no matter how turbulent the sea, how violent the storm surrounding them, their God was mightier. This simple brown plate looks out over the sometimes turbulent sea, and reminds all its readers of that same truth.
We may feel that we are in the midst of turbulent times, all seems out of our control. We can acknowledge that these times are not easy, and in many respects turbulent, yet we can rest in the same truth. That no matter how big the waves that we are in the midst of, no matter how great the storms that surround us, we can have confidence in the God that is ‘Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the Lord on high is mighty.’
A hymn written in 1529 by Martin Luther, reminds us that our God is a Mighty Fortress
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Heavenly Father, help us to remember that in the midst of the storms that surround us, you are mightier than anything that can be thrown at us, for you are ‘the Lord on high’ who ‘is mighty’. In Jesus name.