Lightning, then thunder

The speed of sound is 767 mph or about 0.2 miles per second. This enables us to estimate our distance from a lightning strike by counting the seconds until we hear the thunder. For every five seconds we count, we’re about one mile removed. We hear thunder because lightning’s tremendous power heats the air to a very high temperature in a short time, which increases its pressure. As the high pressure air expands outward, it produces the sound wave we call thunder. The power in a typical strike is 10 billion watts. If it lasts for one second, this supplies enough kilowatt-hours to support about 50 houses for one day.

I enjoy thunderstorms, always have. I love the bright lightning flash, the delayed rumble in my chest, the smell of ozone in the air. It’s a dizzying assault on your senses!

What I’m particularly interested in, though, is the gap between the lightning (light) and the thunder (sound). I don’t think this is an accident. I think it’s symbolic.

Listen. Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the light of the world.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

His time here was short, but so powerful. A person’s salvation, acceptance of Him as his or her one and only Savior from sin, happens after His departure. Lightning, then thunder. For us, salvation occurs thousands of years later, but the sound still echoes mightily. It resounds in Heaven just as if we’d visited the freshly vacated tomb and placed our own Thomas-fingers in His wounds (John 20:24-27).

Lightning already struck. Now sound the thunder, friend. Embrace your Savior! I love you because I am loved (John 3:16).


About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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