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When Oceans Rise

I find myself tossed in a tempestuous sea.  My arms are wildly flailing, my lungs are frantic for air.  My mind screams what my mouth cannot: Why?  Where are You?  Will I make it?

You call me out upon the water, the great unknown where feet may fail.

This is not like walking on water.  Peter asked to come.  He chose to step out of the boat.  Not me.  I was on a journey only to find my boat capsized and my survival instinct fighting its way to the surface.

And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.

Mystery has always seemed beautiful to me, alluring, inviting.  I wanted to chase it, throw myself into it with adventurous abandon.  Oh – to go where no one else has gone and do what no one else has done.  But I suppose some mysteries are more like haunted forests – dark and shadowy, the specters of past, present and future all rising to mock your already shaken heart.  I am forced to choose between what seems reality in front of my eyes or a reality beckoning from deep inside my bones, the place where Your deep calls to my deep.  I choose You, and while the ghosts do not entirely disappear (hopeful for another chance at breaking me), I see them now for what they are – figments of an imagination that is not Yours and cannot be mine if I want to live.

I find You in the mystery.  And the first miracle happens – peace be still.  The storm no longer rages.  The tears become fewer.  The resolve become stronger.

So I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine.

But we are still adrift in this unknown, uncharted sea.  I do not see land in sight.  I do not see rescue.  All I have are Your whispered promises and the assurance of Your embrace, which some days I feel much stronger than others.  I cannot fight or I will wear myself out and risk drowning.  I have no choice but to lean into You and trust that You will keep me afloat.  This is all at once comforting and agonizing.  What I see in this vast and menacing ocean stands in stark contrast to what You are telling me is true, to what You are promising me awaits.  One moment, it seems easier to trust You; the next, I am terrified and pleading with my quaking soul, “Be still.”

Your grace abounds in deepest water.  Your sovereign hand will be my guide.  Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

The sun sets on the horizon, and the realization sinks in that I have survived another day out here on the open sea.  Oh God, do not fail me.  When will the rescue come?  Dare I admit this – I am afraid.  I do not see a way out.  I see no sign of rescue.  I only hold the hope of land in my heart, the hope of roots and home and provision and calling.  Is it vain hope?  But You say it’s not.  I choose rest.  I choose You.  Oh God, do not fail me.

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the water wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

Some prayers seem so noble, so inspired until you are living the answer.  As I float here, no way out of this ocean for now, I am left to ponder if the songs of my mouth truly reflect the songs of my heart.  This is hard introspection, and truthfully, I have been afraid of what I might find.  The fear is relentless, and I begin to think I must have failed.  Until I realize how my instincts are beginning to change.  At first, when fear reached its poisonous tentacles towards my heart, I floundered and thrashed first before remembering to rest.  But as the days roll by, the instinct to panic lessens and the instinct to lean in close grows.  And I am made stronger in these everlasting arms.

And while I am still lost and uncertain, I know now that cry of my heart is truly to have no limits on how much I would trust You, how far I would chase You.  I do not understand, but I do not want to be confined to the places my feet could discover on their own.  I must have more, must know more.  And if I must drown, let it be into the fathomless depths of Your heart and Your mystery.

I choose You, even as the oceans rise.

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Lifeline

I am weary in every sense of the word.

My heart feels like it has been squeezed and squeezed, and stretched and squeezed.

The last few weeks have brought a barrage of questions, emotions, conflicts, decisions, opportunities, revelations.  It is like the tiniest glimpse into what it must have been like to wrestle with God all through the night.

But tonight, I dragged my weary soul into His presence alongside beloved friends, covenant family.  And it never ceases to amaze me that no matter where you’ve been and I’ve been, we get together and cry out and He comes.

I have spent a lifetime trying to do enough, be enough.  But I get in His presence and am reminded that I am already enough because I am His.  Because I love Him and He cannot resist a heart that adores Him.  I may not be good enough to deserve it, but I am precious enough.

Every burden, fear, worry, hope, expectation, conflict, question – everything melts away when He wraps around me.  His presence is what sustains me through everything else that makes absolutely no sense.  And I know there is always someone who reads words like these and says, “But I can’t feel Him.  Why can’t I feel Him?”

And I can only say, dear heart, I have been there.  I have been in the moments where it seemed everyone was experiencing God but me.  I have been in the seasons where it seemed the only amazing, life-changing service was the one I missed.  I have walked through the times where the wounds were so great it seemed I would never be able to find Him in that place again.  I have known the heavens as brass and His voice as silent and His heart seemingly distant.

But I have learned to never stop chasing.  He is never far.  It does not always makes sense to me, but I know now I will find Him, how my heart will touch Him.  And you will too.  Be relentless.

Because His presence is our lifeline, our everything.  When we touch Him, we are whole.

Tonight I did the one thing that sets my heart on fire like no other – I sang to my Beloved.  He enfolded me with His gentleness and His grace.  He is here with me in my weariness, my wandering.  And I am left with this assurance in the midst of all my imperfections – He loves me.

 

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