Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls;
All your breakers and waves have gone over me.
Perhaps you’ve stood next to a waterfall and marveled at the volume of water cascading in front of you and the ceaseless roar that causes your insides to reverberate. Perhaps you’ve swum in the ocean and been caught in the churning of a wave hoping it will soon pass over so that you can rise to catch a breath. Roaring, churning, tumbling, pounding: the very words themselves conjure up feelings of both dread and exhilaration.
The psalmist uses these images to focus our attention on the raw power of God and the depth of his counsels. They are, after all his waterfalls, his breakers, and like God himself, they are unsearchable and inscrutable. Whether standing before them or actually experiencing “breakers” of life, we feel small and frail. Water, which should be the comfort of a thirsty soul, becomes threatening. Our soul experiences dread and turmoil. Yet paradoxically, waterfalls and waves call to us. They exhilarate us. We want to jump into something that is so much bigger than us. We long to be a part of it: to ride the waves and to plunge into the waterfall. Our souls thirst for God.
These kinds of experiences call us to contemplation, to fear and trembling before the almighty God. This February we are making a rather distinct sermonic shift toward this kind of contemplation. We are going to transition from the action and activity of Acts to the contemplative call of the Psalms. In particular, we are going to focus on our souls for the next few months. The shift is intentional. Biblically speaking, action without reflection is so much vanity – a chasing after the wind. Conversely, reflection without action is a “talent” buried in the ground. Both action and contemplation are essential for the Christian life and inseparably linked. In one of our confessions of sin we pray “…direct us as we seek to make our lives more active and reflective…” That said, the contemplative life of the Christian is foundational. It is the substance out of which flows the activity.
My suspicion is that for most of us, we find it far easier to do something/anything than bear our souls before God. We find it easier to busy ourselves than to sit at the feet of Jesus. Easier to take a child to a soccer game (a good thing), than to converse with our soul before the roar of life’s tumult.
The intention of this series in the Psalms is to be intentional about our souls. We will walk with the psalmists through the labyrinthine corridors of our hearts and souls. We should not expect this to be an easy journey. When we take time to consider our souls we will often run into motivations, affections, attachments, detachments, yearnings, disappointments, doubts and fears. We long for our soul to find rest (Jer 6:16). We desire our soul to bless and magnify the Lord (Ps 103:1; Lk 1:46). Yet the truth is that our soul can be troubled (Jn 13:21) and downcast (Ps 42:5). Therefore any effort to reflect on our souls and to contemplate with God regarding the state of our souls will be met with resistance. Our flesh, the world and the evil one will ally themselves in opposition for they hate the idea of a soul growing in love to God.
And this is what we seek, More Love to Thee O Christ. We turn to think on our own interior not for the sake of morbid introspection or to find a self-existent spark within. Instead we seek after the lover of our souls through the guidance of his Word. We seek to expose and root-out inordinate affections, replacing them with ordered loves.
As we prepare for this series, may I ask you to be in prayer? We cannot hope to see growth in our souls without complete dependence upon the Lord. I’d also like to ask us to take stock of our personal spiritual disciplines. While these disciplines do not earn us standing or credit with God for spiritual renewal, they are nevertheless the means through which God allows the soul bring itself before Him and finds its healing.
Deep calls to deep. Contemplation of the soul is both dreadful and exhilarating!
For God alone my soul waits in silence. Ps 62:1