Stories for Piper and Posterity: Thunderstorms: Potato Games in Heaven
One time, when I was small enough to be carried by my Dad, but old enough to understand language, I was frightened by a thunderstorm. In the midst of the storm, Dad carried me outside to the wrap around porch of our old Victorian. We watched the rain pour from the pitchers in the sky that had gathered water from the river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. Off the roof it slid in giggling streams, like the water at water parks that bubbles and giggles and carries along the delighted children of God.
The porch was a haven; we were protected and dry. Still, my skin was damp with the humidity and the air was heavy with the smell of the saturated earth and the water logged bodies of the earthworms that crawled out of their flooding homes.
Lightening flashed; thunder rumbled.
I buried my head in Dad’s shoulder.
“The angels are just bowling,” Dad said. “They’re just having a good old time up there.”
“What’s bowling?” I asked.
Dad pondered and changed his analogy. “Well, let’s just say the angels are having a good time in heaven, Julie. Maybe they are dumping potatoes out of wheelbarrows.”
Potatoes and wheelbarrows I understood. Why angels would be dumping potatoes on the grounds of heaven made no sense to me. Apparently I had some idea of heaven, though, or maybe Dad explained it then, because I do remember images of angels dumping potatoes out of wheelbarrows – with no good reason except for the sheer joy of hearing them tumble and rumble across the sky. In my imagination, the angels were laughing–like they were playing a riotous game of croquet with potatoes.
In retrospect, that was about how much Dad’s religion was back then – before Dad’s heart was so broken that it just split open to the soft gooey stuff inside that was fertile for God’s love and call on his life. As a young Dad, his stories about God were just legends to make us feel better, regardless of if they were true or not.
There was truth in Dad’s legends, though, because Dad’s potatoes and wheelbarrow story was to make a point that we didn’t need to be afraid; God in His heaven was near. That was a message I have desperately needed to hear my entire life.
Dad’s story also pointed to the sheer joy of heaven. Isaiah (51:11) describes heaven like this: "They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
Now, in my potato and wheelbarrow image of heaven during thunderstorms, I imagine Jesus and Dad laughing together. They have a giant potato gun, and they are launching potatoes across rainbows - just for the sheer joy of it.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice; the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.