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Monday, November 27, 2006

Deep Callings

"Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and Your breakers have swept over me." (Psalm 42:7)

Deep Longings vs. Deep Callings

We all experience deep longings. We long to be loved deeply, accepted completely and understood totally. We long to be validated, valued, pursued and cherished with never ending and unconditional love.

There is a place deep within us that feels a void so large only God, True Love, can fill it. "God is love." (1 John 4:16)

One of the most awesome things about God is that when we turn to Him to fill our need to be loved, He not only fulfills our desire for love; He satisfies every longing if we let Him. "For He satisfies the longing soul...And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Psalm 107:9 and Philippians 4:19 NASB)
This is the point that some Christians can lose sight of abundant living and settle for a mediocre life where there is assurance of salvation but very little peace, joy and contentment. I found myself at this point some years ago...
I had already allowed God to come and fill my heart by receiving grace to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from Christ. Because I trusted Christ for the forgiveness of my sins when I was a young child, I still had a relationship much like I had with Jesus when I was young. I still had a childlike relationship with Jesus Christ. I was still an immature believer after having trusted in Christ for many years. I was living my life, narrowly escaping fire.
"Each one's work will become clear...because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer great loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13 and 15) I knew I would go to Heaven to be with Him when I died, I just didn't know why I had to endure such a miserable life until then. I still longed to feel God's love, to feel validated, valued, pursued and cherished by God. The fact is I didn't feel it. If I was supposed to be alive in Christ, ("...even so in Christ all shall be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:22), why did I feel so dead?
This is where I began to recognize I was unsatisfied, but in a different way. I knew from all of the other mature Christians in my life, including relatives, Sunday School teachers and friends, that my relationship with God was lacking, I just didn't know what. I began my quest for that missing thing, I had always been taught there was more to this life. I just didn't know what that thing was.

Then God brought me to a place where I met Christians I could relate to, who could listen to my questions, to my hurts, and could encourage me. When I read my Bible it made sense and I could apply God's Word to my life. When I prayed I began to feel the peace of God. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ)

I began to recognize that what I felt were not necessarily the same old deep longings, but what I began to refer to as "deep callings." The calling of God on my life, to go deeper with Him, to explore the Bible more deeply, to examine my heart more closely and to live a life radically different than the one I had been used to living.

I was beginning to live enveloped in God's love, fully aware of His great love toward me at all times by "keeping myself in God." (Jude 21)
I started to live by knowing truth instead of believing truth as relative to my feelings. God's Word tells us our feelings are deceptive. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) We are to hold fast to what we believe. We are not believe only the things we see. "Now faith is...the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

I began to tell myself how much God loved me each day by reading His promises in the Bible and meditating on these verses. Jeremiah 3:16 "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you." and Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

As I heard His song, I longed for my life to become a prayer, a gift, a love letter to my God. I discovered that when I answered the deep callings in my life, my life was transformed; my life began to look like the love song to my Savior I was longing to sing.

Psalm 42 says that after deep calls to deep, His lovingkindness and song are with me and become a prayer to Him. "Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." (Psalm 42:7-8)

The deep callings, the songs God sings to us, become our prayers to Him. We must learn to hear and recognize His voice in the depths.

Rushing Waters...
This deep place within me is where Christ lives...and I die. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
The word deep in this verse means the depths, abyss or grave. Rolled over means to cover with grave stones. We hear God's voice when we put ourselves, our fleshly desires, to death. It is in this death of our own flesh and selfish desires that we begin to experience life, True Life. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galations 2:20)

There are many paradoxes in the Christian life. We must experience death to have life, face fear to embrace freedom, walk through darkness to see light, and lose everything to possess everything to name a few. We must die to live and we must hear silence to hear God's voice.

What do you think of when you think of deep waters? When I think of deep waters, I think of silence, stillness and coldness. My daughter loves to spend time under water. One thing she wanted me to do all summer was go into the deep water with her and call out her name while she was under water so she could see if she could hear me. She could never hear me. The water was too deep. This fascinated her. It also fascinated me. I believe one reason we must journey to the deep sometimes to hear God's voice is that it is in silence and stillness that we hear God. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

When I am giving my children directions, for any reason, I ask them to be quiet and listen to me. I tell them to learn the rules and follow them because when they stop following the rules, we cease to have fun. For example, if we go to the zoo, they are to hold someone's hand and stay where they can see me at all times. If one child runs off, the other children can't enjoy the zoo because we are all searching for the lost child. That is no fun! God tells us to be quiet and listen closely so that we can go about our lives and enjoy living rather than doing unnecessary work. If we aren't paying complete attention to His directions, we may forget to follow some of them and have to pay a pretty big price. This is why He tell us to, "Be still and know that I am God."

In the movies when someone is underwater, it is silent, the outside world is muffled. Deep water scenes are mysterious. When the actors come up from being underwater, things are suddenly loud, quick and confusing. This is how our lives are. Until we can go to the depths, the quietness, the stillness and the mysteriousness of God remain hidden. Great things are promised to us when we call out in the depths. "Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." (Jeremiah 33:3 NRSV)

Now, if there are two people underwater trying to communicate, they usually can. If I were to put my face in the water and try to scream my daughter's name, she could hear something. Two divers remain attuned to each other, paying attention and watching for signals from each other. Could that be one reason God calls us to the depths? So we can become attuned to His voice?

Revelation 1:15 says, "...and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters." Rushing water is powerful, forceful, alive. I once went tubing down the Guadalupe River. Everyone warns passengers to keep their hands and feet in the raft and hang on tight during the rapids. The rushing water can take you under the current and hold you there drowning you. When we passed through the rushing waters, I was swept out of the raft and under the water very swiftly. The other five girls in our raft had to all struggle to pull me back on board. Rushing waters are very powerful! To be swept up in rushing waters can be very terrifying!
Deep water, rushing water gets our attention. Waterfalls however lovely, are also electrifying. Crashing waves and walls of water have power, life and even terror in them. Standing in their presence can be as fearful as it is awe-inspiring.

As you soak yourself in deep water and let it wash over you, listen for the quiet, still voice calling out to you from the deep. Habakkuk 3:10b says, "The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice." We have to remember that even when we feel swept away, lost at sea, God is directing the living water. God is the Living Water.

The quiet, still voice that sounds like rushing waters is calling out to you. Answer His call. "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." (Hebrews 3:15)

"Deep calls to deep..."

Deep water is also very distinctive. It is deep and remains deep when water is removed from it. When we take a cup of water, no one can tell. If we add a cup of water, it makes no difference. The depths of God are also unchanging. There is enough for everyone. God revealed Himself to Moses as "I AM that I AM." (Exodus 3:14) That is why one of the names of God is I AM. God was all that Moses needed to deliver the Israelites from Egypt and He is all that we need today. Every facet of our God remains the same forever. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

Come, drink deeply! Enjoy the never-changing, always abundant Living Water as you experience the depths.

More Deep Callings

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