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“Deep Calls to Deep”

11 Sep

Deep Calls to DeepI look at my French bulletin board hanging over my kitchen table, filled with Christmas card photos from many years and places we have lived. Along with graduations, births, weddings, and celebrations, I see broken hearts, unraveled marriages, cancer, loss, abandonment, children with developmental struggles, addiction, etc.

But you know what else I see?

Jesus. The grace of Christ in so many lives. The calling out to Him from the depths of messy life—and the answering.

It was about nine years ago that I sat on a cement bench on a small island beach in the South Pacific. It was night, and I was squeaking out a desperate prayer in a tiny voice. The weight inside my heart was holding down so much pain that if it had bubbled up full force, it would surely have broken the sound barrier. Instead, like the slow leak of a balloon, only low-energy pleas came out.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t just walk out into that ocean right now, into the depths? End the sorrow? Leave everyone in better hands than I surely offer? I want to stop feeling. Now’s Your chance to say something. Why am I of value? Why should I stick around?”

How I arrived at such a place of devastation and depression is a story for another day, but while at the time I am sure I was not that articulate or long-winded, those questions were among the unexpressed thoughts ping-pong-ing around in my mind and heart waiting to get out.

In actual spoken words, it sounded more like:

“Speak, Lord. Why should I stay on this planet?”

Have you been to that place before? The one where you took a mental and emotional health plunge that went deeper than you ever thought possible? Where despair had eyes and lies had teeth that sunk softly in before you knew you were in their grasp?

The Psalms are the place I know how gritty, real, and raw we can be with God, and it’s okay. It’s safe. He accepts us in that honest place. We can cry out. We don’t have to sugarcoat the telling of it.

Isn’t that a relief? Doesn’t cleaning up our “real” become exhausting? How about those explosive messes in our lives that have left visible and invisible shrapnel everywhere?

Consider this Psalm of the sons of Korah. Can you relate?

Psalm 42, ESV

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God [emphases mine].

Um, hello:

My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

Do you ever anguish this way? Lose sleep? Let worry consume your waking hours? Do you grieve the future, the one you are so sure is going to happen because of this particular diagnosis, setback, poor choice, failure?

And if those folks around us don’t say it, we often say it to ourselves:  

“Where is your God?”

Because, somehow, that question has become synonymous with “life didn’t go my way,” “these weren’t my plans,” “people we love aren’t supposed to become this ill,” “this wasn’t where I thought You were leading me,” and so on.

When we are in that stuck place, like the sons of Korah, we, can take their advice and remember:

…how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise, 
a multitude keeping festival.

We can:

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, 
my salvation and my God.

Remember who He is and what He has done. Praise Him.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you

Choose to remember Him: His steadfast love (by day), His song (by night), His presence, so close. So accessible. So ready.

“Why do I go mourning 
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long, 
“Where is your God?”

Many of us have been there: mourning, oppressed, wounded.

We’ve felt pressed in on every side, trapped in circumstance, imprisoned by either our own choices or the poor behavior of others toward us.

And yet, as honest as the Psalmists are in their words, they also decide to look up, to entrust God with their future. How do they get from the place of devastation and crisis to the looking up?

First of all, the sons of Korah express right from the beginning how much they long for God. Can you see the full dependency in those statements?

My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.

How do we get there? We start with extending our hearts toward God our Father. We want to be with Him. We need His comfort. We cultivate the relationship.

And perhaps my favorite part of the entire Psalm:

This is deep communion with God. The Psalmists describe themselves as standing under the roaring waterfalls of the living God. They are in full surrender in the midst of their overwhelm. What an intimate picture of submission.

I don’t really know the other ways in which that horrible night on an island bench could have, or would have, turned out. All I know is that with the fragments of myself still hanging on, “deep called out to deep.” I stood under the metaphorical waterfall, and God poured His love, compassion, mercy, grace, and tenderness over me.

In the quiet of some of my darkest moments, I uttered the great calling out, and the God of my salvation answered.

There is an answer to “Where is your God?

It’s:

“Right here. In the deep.”

 

*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today. 

**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).

 

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3 responses to ““Deep Calls to Deep”

  1. Theresa Kast Gilman

    October 17, 2017 at 4:48 am

    What a good word! Thank you! I never quite got that part about the waterfall, but you explain it well.

    Like

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      October 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks, Theresa! I really appreciate you spending some time at Espressos of Faith. I LOVE the waterfall. LOVE LOVE the image!

      Like

       

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