12/11/2017 - Psalm 42:7 'Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. I hear the tumult of the raging seas.'
I’m sure every serious surfer can say ‘waves and breakers have swept over me.’ The roar of the water and the feeling of being caught in something so powerful is an experience not to be forgotten.
The Psalmist is in similar turmoil. He longs for God; he is being taunted by his enemies; battling with depression; looking back at times of great joy and wondering how it all went so wrong. Probably written by David and delivered to the ‘Sons of Korah’ for musical arrangement, it could well have come from the time when David’s son Absalom rebelled and he was driven from his throne and home. He was an exile and a wanderer beyond the Jordan (2 Samuel 15-18).
In that context, David writes, ‘Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls’. Is this just a poetic way of saying he’s in deep trouble – or is there more to it? Is David saying the very severity of what is happening is causing his own soul to resonate at a depth he didn’t know existed? Are the churned-up pebbles, sand and silt an external representation of what is happening in his own heart? Is he being taken to a new awareness of the depths of his own soul – so that he can meet with God there and go to a new place in him.
Let’s change the analogy. We’ve all seen the brightly coloured bouncy castles that children love to leap about on. Imagine that you own one. There it is all packed up in its bag, in the garage. In fact, you bought it many years ago - and it is still waiting to be used. The problem is, you know that if you get it out and pump it up, it could get a puncture or children could be too rough with it and damage it. So, you keep it tucked safely away.
We can be like that with our feelings. If we weren’t brought up in a home in which we felt safe to express the depths of what we felt, the chances are that we kept those feelings carefully packed away. At least no harm could come to them!
Walking with God is dangerous. He stirs us up. He doesn’t want our ‘innermost being’ to be packed away. He loves us so passionately that he is jealous over us and he will allow the waves and breakers to sweep over us. He wants us to discover the depths of who we are and to find those places of communion with him and each other that we never knew existed. As ‘deep calls to deep’ so our awareness of the depths of our souls really expands. The bouncy castle is getting air pumped in, it is taking shape, it can fulfil the reason it was made in the first place. The little splashes of artwork that we saw on the deflated castle now expand into wonderful pictures that excite the children as they enjoy their fun. The glimpses of our own colourful inner life open before us into a vista of beauty.
We are only truly safe in the heart of God. Church should be, however poorly, the physical expression of the heart of God. It can be the place where, like David, we can pour out our souls – and we will be understood and loved. As we express the depths of what we feel we will experience even greater depths. Emotions will hit us that we never knew we were capable of, but those emotions enable us to increasingly feel God’s heart and to carry that love into the hearts of others.
What are your ‘waves and breakers’ that are sweeping over you at this time? Is it work, broken and painful relationships, bereavement, confusion over something that didn’t work out? You will find God there, in that new place – and you will find yourself - as you ‘put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God’.
Andrew Behrend has written an interesting interpretation of Romans 8:26 which develops some of these thoughts further - click here to read Andrew's thoughts.