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Stilling Stormy Souls

At times my soul gently sits like Lake Placid; at other times, it is more easily stirred and stormy than a wave pool at a water park.  Thankfully, over the years, the Lord has taught me how to approach an agitated soul with His hushing presence and promises.

Last week, my soul was trusting and tranquil, not easily swayed by circumstances or frazzled by fearful thoughts. This week, however, my soul has been roiling and rolling, easily moved from the peace that Christ purchased at so great a price. Our souls are fickle, but His Words are unfailing.

Supposedly the Sea of Gennesaret was also easily changed and transformed. Sitting at 600 feet below sea level and in the valley of surrounding mountains, the sea would easily transform from still pool into fierce squall when funnels of mountain air would travel through thin mountain gorges. Such was the sudden scene change in Mark 4 when an exhausted,  work-wearied Jesus fell into a sound  sleep in the hull of a hard ship.

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Apparently, Christ fell asleep on calm seas but awoke to a fierce enough squall to scare the daylights out of experienced sailors. Being rudely awakened by his fearful friends accusations, Christ spoke calmly yet authoritatively to the winds and waves.

And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4: 38-39).

While part of me envies the disciples the physical presence of the living Christ, I am beginning to recognize that we have one better in the in-dwelling Spirit.   When my soul is suddenly agitated, I need only address His Spirit within me. Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to leave multiple models in the Psalms, particularly Psalm 42 and Psalm 62. David, who experienced his own fair share of storms within and without, teaches us how to address a stormy soul with the hushing promises of God.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken….For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my  fortress; I shall not be shaken (Psalm 62:1-2 & 5-6).

In the introductory verses, David is speaking of his soul. Only a handful of verses later, David says nearly the exact same thing, only this time, he is speaking to his soul.

The Hebrew word for wait transliterated dumiyyah means silence and repose, a quiet waiting. In one moment, David has a stilled soul; yet only moments later, he is seeking yet again to still it. I am glad to know that I am not the only one with strange weather patterns in my heart.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us (Psalm 62: 8).

The Hebrew word for trust transliterated batach literally means to fall on your face before, to lie prostrate, to put one’s confidence in completely and utterly. One of the ways to express deep trust in the Lord is to lay stormy souls out before Him completely and entirely. We are invited, with David and Hannah (see 1 Samuel 1:15) to pour out our inner man, the good, the bad and the ugly, into the safe hands of our peaceful Savior.

The Hebrew word shaphak translated pour carries a range of meaning from gushing to dumping to pouring to shedding. I love the variety of options here. The mode matters not, the act of trusting by entrusting the contents of our hearts to God is what matters. Sometimes my trust in the Lord looks like a gentle stream of ordered, peaceful sharing; other times it looks like a huge, messy heart dump. Either way, I am transformed by the act of giving to the Lord what is gushing within me, be it gratitude or grumbling, faith or fear.

Sometimes the hush and the stillness is nearly instantaneous. Other times, the being-made-peaceful process is more arduous and gradual. Either way, the same Savior hushes my stormy soul with His presence and peace.

What a mighty God we serve: one who is all-powerful, all-loving and entirely just (see Psalm 62:11-12). Peace comes from His unchanging character, not our climate-changing souls or circumstances.

 

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