What a spectacular show that early summer evening — we sat on a rise and looked out as a distant thunderstorm generated repeated lightning strikes across the valley vista.
“Beautiful… like God’s fireworks!” someone exclaimed.
And then another asked, “Yes, but what if you were right at the impact point of one of those lightning strikes?”
We watched those loud and violent flashes of lightning and shuddered.
In my pastoral experience of 30 years, I have stood at the impact point of lightning strikes multiple times. Just like lightning from a thunderstorm, the emotional discharges of angry, hurting, or anxious people can strike unexpectedly and with stunning impact.
Pastors of any church or tradition live as lightning rods, drawing continual, even constant emotional static and damaging discharges from those around us. Sometimes, we deserve a reaction or criticism, but more times, we serve as convenient targets for pent-up, displaced fears.
Not just pastors, but anyone in an exposed, visible position, especially anyone who takes a principled stand — public officials, parents, teachers, for examples — knows the impact of anger and anxiety directed (more accurately, projected) toward them.
These personal “lightning strikes” hit us suddenly, stunning us. “Where did that come from?” Even when we prayerfully and conscientiously do the best we can to obey and serve God’s will, we draw the ire and raw anger of others.
But such is the life of a lightning rod. And such is the life of a Jesus follower. Just as the world directed such scorn at Jesus, so at his disciples. Yet Jesus pronounces, “Blessed are you when people heap scorn on you and persecute you and utter slander against you on my account…”
How do we take the strike, bear the brunt? How do we remain standing, faithful, hopeful, and unbowed?
Simple… effective lightning rods remain grounded. And so must we who seek to serve Jesus. Surviving the daily lightning strikes is entirely a matter of your grounding.
As we hear in Ephesians: “… so that you, being rooted and grounded in [his] love, may be full of strength to apprehend with all the saints what the breadth and length and height and depth are and to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, that you ma be filled unto the fullness of God.”