This is not my statement of faith which I believe as an ordained minister. This is what I proclaim when my life no longer makes sense.
This is what I have learned from being at the door of the Father’s heart. I learned this back in the early 1980s and it has sustained me through the many pains my life has had to endure. It comes from Psalm 18, and specifically this section, vv. 4-16.
The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path.
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached his ears.
Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of His anger. Smoke poured from His nostrils; fierce flames leaped from His mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from Him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath His feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, He flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded Himself in darkness, veiling His approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around Him and rained down hail and burning coals. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. He shot His arrows and scattered His enemies; great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters.
I especially appreciate the visuals here. I understand the feeling of the floods of destruction sweeping over me. I have called out in my distress—many times really yelling at God. And this I have learned, “my cry to Him reached His ears.” I need to know that again and again.
I love the visuals of God moving things in the heavenlies because He heard my prayers. And I especially love this, He reached down from heavens and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters. God reaches into my broken-heartedness because I cried out and I am drawn out of the overwhelming deep waters that my life is now. Every time. The door to the Father’s heart comes to me.
God’s love can be defined as a pursuing force that is not dependent upon my response back. God is going to continue to pursue and love anyway because He is love. This God of love is who I cling to even as I am yelling at Him.
I discovered this psalm during a dark time in 1983. Ha! It was over a failed relationship. I’ve suffered so much worse pain since then. But in 1983 it was real pain. Pain which led me to a truth which has given me much comfort to handle the pain that was yet to come. I find myself continually going back to this psalm declaring (yelling) this truth. So many times my prayers have only been the words of this psalm.
The other day I had a 20-year old graduated teen of mine whom I love visit. He’s on the healing side of pain right now. His heart got broken. He has learned a lot through his pain with lots of growth yet to come. Pain is truly a beginning for him. I remember how lost I felt in that same similar pain of a failed relationship. His pain is as real as my recent overwhelming pain.
To lament with Psalm 18 has never let me down.
We have a son who is doing a long stretch of time in prison. We were just chatting about the “dark night of the soul.” It wasn’t a deep conversation, just putting words to both of our awareness of it. This is what he texted back as part of this conversation.
One time I was in segregation, the guards went the extra mile to torment me. They wouldn’t give me my property. No books, no hygiene, and no stationary. Nothing to occupy my time. They threw me in the cell and that was it. Hoped that I would either go crazy or commit suicide. 19 days of this mistreatment. It was at this time that I understood what Jesus meant by looking within. Everything He said about not fearing those that can only kill the body. The travels of life are neither good nor bad. It’s just another part of life. It’s impossible for God to go AWOL. The force is in us and all around us in all forms. The signs are everywhere. God is always. “I am that I am.” Simple.
We did not know of this dark time for him. He tells us these stories when he thinks I am ready. Were you ready to hear a truth about prison life? It is shocking to the soul as prison is safely removed from your lives. Not mine. It is no wonder I repeat Psalm 18 often. And for our son, he knows God in a way I will never know God. You may wish to know God in the deep way that Kenneth knows Him, but then you don’t because you know you don’t want to go through what he did to find out that it is impossible for God to go AWOL.
vv. 25-29 – To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. This is what my son knows. This is what I know.
The Father’s heart says, ‘Come to me with your most unsolvable pain.” To lament with Psalm 18 has never let me down.
Be brave. There is healing for you. Pain is your beginning. Hope is yours too. It comes from brave decision to the next brave decision to the next brave decision. Meanwhile, God reaches into your broken-heartedness because you cried out and are drawn out of the overwhelming deep waters that your life is now. Even making this declaration is a brave decision.
And know this–you are heard. Psalm 18:6 – But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.
(Photo credit: Jonatan Pie, https://unsplash.com/?photo=3l3RwQdHRHg)