June 13, 2012

S.O.S.


There are times when worship overflows easily and effortlessly from a heart full of gratitude and praise. Yet, there are other times when we feel we have nothing left to offer up. We are tired, or thirsty, or imprisoned in our own chains through our own devices, or caught in the waves of a tumultuous sea. This is when God wraps His eternally powerful, ultimately creative, nail-scarred hands around our hearts and squeezes with appropriate might. Our hearts painfully twist and change shape as He wrings the worship out of it. It is a deep worship. It is an honest worship. It is the worship we sometimes forget. The humble worship of crying out to God in the midst of our pain. No flowery words. No shiny faces. Not in that moment. That will come later. But for now, this is the worship He seeks - an honest plea for Him to save us. -Lauren Chandler
The dictionary likes to define and interpret S.O.S. as a "signal of extreme distress" or "an urgent appeal for help." My definition and interpretation of S.O.S. though, is a bit more... lively and emo. Usually it's along the lines of "No freaking way, No freaking way, No freaking way!" or "Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!!!" or "AHHHHH!!!" or on the really bad days "*@*#$^@#$*!" Add in anger, frustration, confusion, pain, and tears... and you've got yourself the legit S.O.S. 

Wilderness seasons will either swell or diminish our prayer life. I hope and encourage that they swell. I'm not talking about the sweet kind of prayers though. I'm talking about the gut-wrenching variety. The laments. The cry-fests. The prayers where you literally feel like you're in pain. The prayers that are infused with anger, bitterness, and accusations. The prayers where the heart is so heavy and so sick. The prayers that end in exhaustion nearly every time; too tired to speak or think anymore.

Yesterday, I talked about spiritual dehydration and mentioned Psalm 42. In the first two verses David, a man well acquainted with the desert, illustrates his deep thirst for the Living God... Living Water. But when I continued to read through this entire Psalm, there were three other threads I saw weaved in and out of it. David acknowledges his thirst for God, and then immediately we see him going into "S.O.S. mode":
My tears have been my food day and night...  I pour out my soul... (verses 3&4)
It's ok to be real before God. To pour out our hearts and souls to Him. Even when it's ugly. Even when we're mad or bitter. Even when we feel we've run ourselves ragged and are frustrated. God's a big God, and He can handle any and all of our emotional turmoil. We see David doing this very thing (and there are several other Psalms as more proof); he lays his grievous soul bare, we can almost sense the crushing of his heart here. In the middle of all this, David cries out to the Living God to save him, not other idols. This is big! If we have idols reigning in our hearts, when stuck in the wilderness, we have to fight to cry out to God alone to save us. David does exactly that. He sends out an S.O.S. to the Ruler of heaven and earth. But David doesn't just stop with his S.O.S. He does two significant things after this.

David Preaches to His Soul. We see this in verses five and eleven: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God..." You and I are constantly preaching to ourselves, the question is what are we preaching? David commits to hope in God, to wait and put his trust in the Lord. In order to hope (Lamentations 3:21-27) we must redirect our gaze to God rather than the vast emptiness of the desert. Gazing at the Savior is a healing balm for our hearts. And in turn, preaching to our souls positions us to worship God as evidenced in the second half of those same two verses (5&11): "...for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

David Worships. In our crying out to God let us position our hearts to worship Him. David did not wallow and throw himself a pity party (at least not for long), he exalts in the Lord. How does David fill his situation with worship? He recounts the steadfast love of the Lord. To recount means to remember, to call to mind, to remember:
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar... By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me... (verses 6&8)
While in the wilderness, we need to fill our situation with praise to Christ. We have to bring to mind all the ways God's goodness, love, and redemptive power have been at work in our life, and that this remains true as He guides us through the desert, for He knows the straight way that leads to the promised land... into the city (Psalm 107:6&7). Just as He is faithful to respond to our cries, we must remain faithful and perseverent in actually crying out. One of my favorite worship songs for the past couple of years is called Desert Song (listen to it here). It's about fighting to give God praise and worship in the midst of the wilderness; a time where the enemy will try to either diminish it or persuade us to give it to other idols. Being in the wilderness comes with it's battles, and this is one of them. Are we going to let Satan steal away our worship, or are we going to contend for it?

Continue to cry out to Him. Pray and get others to pray over you. Your prayers are not hitting some imaginary ceiling. None exist. This is a journey and it will take some time. Press into Him even when He doesn't seem to be there. Seek Him Out. He's made a covenant with you, and God never walks away from someone He's in covenant with. He is faithful. He will complete the work He started in you.
When the soul rests on itself, it sinks; if it catches hold on the power and promise of God, the head is kept above the billows. And what is our support under present woes but this, that we shall have comfort in Him. ~Matthew Henry
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4 comments :

  1. natalie this is SO GOOD. amen to everything!!!

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  2. Goodness, like I've said before, you need to write a Bible Study book. One of my favorite passages is Psalm 13. David does the same thing, crying out to God, questioning, S.O.S...then he praises. It's such a neat reminder to seek Christ always, especially in barren times. Thank you for letting God use you! I needed that today!

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  3. teary faced: ;_;

    so good! Loving these series

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  4. THIS WAS AMAZING!!!
    but seriously, wow.. thank you for sharing.
    thank you for reminding me of the reality and greatness oF God and how He is right beside me.

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