Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Deeps

So I was getting ready for work one day and realized that the hymn "From the Depths of Woe" had been in my head all morning. Do you ever do that?  Suddenly realize that you've been humming, singing, or just rolling the words of a song through your mind?

It's been several months since I've thought about this song, though it is one my favorites. I love the words. It's by Martin Luther - big shock that the Presbyterian in me loves it so much. Obviously it's an old hymn, but in college we would sing it at RUF (Reformed University Fellowship). And of course they changed the arrangement a little bit.

Last summer, my brother sent me an email telling me that there was a song they were singing at RUF at Auburn and he just absolutely loved it.  He then sent me a youtubelink of someone playing a guitar and singing this same hymn, same arrangement that I knew from my RUF days. It made my day. My brother has been going through a spiritually hungry phase - ravenous is more like it. He's reading book after book after book, and can't stop talking about all of 'the deeps' - I love it. I love that guy.

So this song got me thinking of one of my favorite verses from the Psalm 42 - "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls." I think that verse has multiple meanings. The first is this: I think that 'soul depth' is naturally, magnetically attracted to similar 'soul depth' in others. The Spirit of God within us communes with the Spirit in others - I think of the way that my heart burned the night that I met Joshua - and it was the same for Him. "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16). We are one in the Spirit, and there's a sighing, a breathing out of 'Yes I know you!' And I think the "iron sharpens iron" verse ties into that too - we can't help but be drawn to people who inspire and challenge us to listen, to learn, to long for more.

When we've received the Holy Spirit, we are instantly deepened to a certain degree - there's a conversation, a communion that begins. And I think that, as vessels of that Spirit, we can't help but yearn for more and more of Him - for deeper communion and understanding. And that's how God created us - like the churning at the bottom of that waterfall - because of the momentum behind the water, we're plunged deeper and deeper. He calls us into that.

I think this hymn tells a truth about that 'depth-calling' too. He allows us to feel the 'depths of woe' because, from there, we cry out for more of Him - his healing, his nearness, to see Him! And from that bottom of that valley of 'secret sins and misdeeds dark' - we realize and the depths of our own depravity, and thus our deeper need for Him. And we see more and more of the secrets of Who He is.

So, I'm just thinking about how undeserving I am to know Him, but how thankful I am that He wants me to know Him more.  And though I'm not in the "depths of woe" at this moment, I can know that when I am, there is a deeper purpose.  Even if it means pain and discomfort and sorrow for a time.

From Depths of Woe
by Martin Luther
From depths of woe I raise to Thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication;
If Thou iniquities dost mark,
Our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O who shall stand before Thee?

To wash away the crimson stain,
Grace, grace alone availeth;
Our works, alas! are all in vain;
In much the best life faileth:
No man can glory in Thy sight,
All must alike confess Thy might,
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His Word
Upholds my fainting spirit:
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort, and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience.

What though I wait the livelong night,
And till the dawn appeareth,
My heart still trusteth in His might;
It doubteth not nor feareth:
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
And wait till God appeareth.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free.
From all their sin and sorrow.

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