NF – Mansion, and the Meaninglessness of Chasing After Wind

It’s interesting what was once considered a mansion. This photo, for me, is a reminder of the ills of the exponentially growing expectation of the American dream. What was once thought a mansion, now looks almost average, and yet depression, chemical dependence (legal and illegal), and violent crime in our nation is not improving. It’s an image of the soul decay of serving at the foot of the idol of earthly riches. NF, the first Christian rapper to be signed by a major record label, Capitol Records, released this album cover today for his début album dropping March 31. You can see the video for the single here.

Great work by NF, presenting the collision of human reality and biblical truth in an unexpected medium.  I have been both of the people represented in the video, at both ends of the spectrum, and found depression at both ends. The answer only came when God opened my eyes to see that no matter what I had, or what I did, I was never going to have peace until I understood my purpose. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” He is what our souls are longing for. Until we understand that, we will continue be people who heap up possessions to fill our emptiness, or be those who are unsatisfied with life or feel insufficient because we can not keep up with the perceived success of others. Both paths lead to the same place.

Ecclesiastes 1:14  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Matthew 6:19-22  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

 

Deep Calls to Deep

Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You…7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me.

This is a sermon that was inspired by this blog post, and was preached in the Alumni Chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY as part of a preaching practicum.

These are powerful words from King David, a man after God’s own heart. A man who experienced both times of unmatchable joy, and times of extreme, terrible anguish. In all things, high and low, David found complete fullness in His relationship with the LORD. Here David delivered a paramount analogy of our souls’ longing for the comforting, healing, and filling Spirit that can only be had in relationship with our Father.  David says “Deep calls to deep.”

“In the grandeur of Nature there are awful harmonies. When the storm agitates the ocean below, the heavens above hear the tumult and answer to the clamor. Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail or swift-descending rain, attended with peals of thunder and flashes of flame. Frequently the waterspout, of which David speaks…evidences the sympathy of the two great waters above and beneath the firmament—the great deep above stretches out its hands to the great deep below and in voice of thunder their old relationship is recognized. It is almost as if the twin seas remembered how once they lay together in the same cradle of confusion till the decree of the Eternal appointed each his bounds and place. ‘Deep calls unto deep’—one splendor of creation holds fellowship with another.”
-Charles Spurgeon, Sermon No. 865

When life’s storms rage, and perils come in succession, the waves crash over us, a dark cloud settles above us, and the storm rages down upon us.  We find ourselves stranded in the deep, waves crashing…they continue again and again – billowing over us, unrelenting, unyielding…mercilessly commanding surrender…leaving us desperately crying out for a rescuing hand of salvation.

As the plummeting power of the waters of the sky call out a tumultuous response from the waters of the sea, so too is reflected the powerful call of God – the call sent forth from the deepest chambers of His being to the most inward parts of our hearts.  As the wind and the rain stir the waves of the deep, so too does God’s immeasurably deep call intend to stir an echo with us. In the Bible the LORD’s voice is described as the roar of rushing waters (Ezekiel 43:2,Revelation 14:2). The cry of God’s voice, roaring like the waterfalls, paints the picture of God’s yearning command that you cry back to Him from the deepest, most longing places in your heart.

In life’s storms, the strongest of us are made helpless, the highest of us are brought low, the high, mighty, and proud spirits are humbled, and only what is of crucial importance becomes the sole pursuit of our hearts.  In a time of drowning, what will we cling to?  Will a drowning man cling to his treasure?  Will he cling to his pride, being content to sink to death, holding on to possessions which can not save him?  Or, will the drowning man let go of all that is not able to save and extend his hand to its fullest reach, and with all his might stretch out for the hand of his savior?  Will we reach out for life?

A person diagnosed with cancer quickly finds the priorities of their life changed.  No longer do they find themselves concerned with a promotion at work, or the latest Iphone.  A person who is losing a loved one can not find adequate joy in a new car, or living vicariously through the lives of reality TV personalities.  There comes a time when we all will have lived long enough to know we bleed.  There comes a time when life happens.  There comes a time when we will all experience a hurt so deep that there will be no adequate solace found on this earth.  There will come a deep hurt that can only be mended by a healing more soothing than any medicine this world can provide.  In that time, there is the realization that there can be no clinging to our treasure or clinging to our pride. There is no consolation in temporal earthly things. We come to realize our possessions can not save, nor even distract our attentions, from the sinking of our souls.  It’s in this time we are brought to the realization that we must let go, we must stop looking around us, and start looking above us.  The call is coming like the roar of a waterfall from the depths of Heaven.  It’s in this time we must echo the call, cry out in response, and reach out for life.  A deep sea of affliction requires a deeper sea of grace.   A deep despair calls for the deliverance of a God of infinitely deeper mercy.

Deep calls to deep.

The Hebrew word for deep, “tehom,” refers to an immeasurable chasm, an abyss.

Christ of the Abyss statue

Everyone recognizes there is a deep emptiness within us.  There is an undeniable longing for something more.  Many, many people believe this void can be filled by attaining more of what we already have. If what we already have isn’t satisfying then more of it must be the answer.  More success, more power, more money, more friends, more square footage, more toys, more clothes, more vacations, more freedom, more stability, more excitement, more danger, more drugs, more alcohol, more sex.  MORE! We believe that if we pile enough of these things into the empty chasm in our souls that we will be able to fill them. The media says more, the advertisers say more, the celebrities say more, and even the American Dream itself tells us to aspire and we can achieve and attain more.  But true spiritual contentment never comes from more of what we already have.  Even when we think we are happy, this happiness is fleeting.  We never find lasting contentment by building our foundations on the temporal things that do not last.  In a single moment our lives come crashing down.  Then, when we are weighed on the scales…ultimately we are only found wanting. Unfulfilled with nothing solid to lean on….wanting something we still do not have, and lacking that which is required.

This has happened because man was created full and whole.  At creation, man was made in complete harmony with God, heaven, and all the earth.  There was perfect relationship with God, and peace in the souls of man. Then When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, sin entered the world, and a deep rift was driven between man and God.  This separation manifests in the immeasurable chasm between man and God that exists inside our very souls.  Our souls long to return to the fullness and wholeness we were created to have, but on its own, the soul can not mend.  This emptiness is not a void that can be filled with power, money, success, drugs, or even more grandchildren. This chasm is simply too deep. Too genuine.  Our souls cry out to all creation, and there is only one thing that can fill the immeasurable emptiness within us.  This deep emptiness cries out for a deeper love, a deeper provision, and a filling of the Spirit – The only One deep enough to repair this void.

Deep calls to deep.

Over the course of our lives we have all buried ourselves so deep, under such a wretched heap of sin, that those of us willing to humbly examine ourselves can only come to own that there is a terrible amount of hurt we’ve caused our LORD, others, and ultimately ourselves. Beneath this heap of sin and hurt we realize that we lie practically paralyzed – enslaved in the bondage of our iniquity. We become reserved to the idea that we are idolaters, liars, slanderers, gossips, manipulators, cheats, and addicts, and become convinces that that’s just simply who we are. We are wallowing, dead, in a pit of filth and transgression so deep that only a God of greater grace, deeper forgiveness, and a love as deep as the oceans could wash over us and cleanse us, plant us back on our feet, give us new life.

Deep calls to deep.

Many who have received Christ as their savior, and believe, still do not feel the deep peace that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit.  They believe that Christ alone will not bring all fulfillment, but cling to their old ways, believing that their sinful desires will be more satisfying than Christ alone. This is the unfortunate result of a continued seeking for carnal, worldly pleasures, and a lack of dependence and trust in the ways and provision of the LORD.  Sadly, this straddling between two masters leads to people being unfulfilled in both the world, and in the Church. The LORD demands to know, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions (1 Kings 18:21)?” How long will you straddle between the sinful ways of the world, and the righteous ways of God? Until you are willing to stop straddling between two branches, and go out on the limb with Him, you will never make it to the fruit. You will never truly have faith that peace is found in letting Him support you. Believers who do not feel the fullness and contentment of life in Christ should seek to go further with the LORD. Christ plus nothing equals everything. Where you go deeper, the Spirit has the depth to fill you.  You will not outpace Him.  He can provide a contentment not found in carnal pleasures or worldly temporal gain.  All you need do is measure the expanse of the earth, or number the visible stars of the sky and realize you are only one tiny person in one small corner of God’s great creation.  We have an infinitely bigger Father who longs to take us infinitely deeper.  He is ready and waiting to take you there.  He desires to take you into His everlasting embrace and shower you with His grace.  Trust He is the source of deep contentment and peace and is the only One capable of bringing fullness to your life.

Deep calls to deep.

And between you and I, brothers and sisters…children of the living God…Only a call from the depths of our hearts can provoke a response in the depths of another.  A shallow sales pitch will never stir the depths of others. Nor should these shallow, forced presentations of the gospel even be necessary. When you know the love of God, your contagious enthusiasm for the Lord will spill out uncontrollably. His light will reflect in you. Like Moses off the mountaintop, those who come in contact with the LORD glow.  Only the deep reaches the deep.  Likewise, only those who are willing to dig deep into their hearts, examine themselves, and be honest with their deepest feelings will respond to the deep call.  We know this because we know what it is to connect with someone on a deeper level.  We know what it is to feel something pierce beyond the superficial and resonate within us.  We know when someone is genuine, when someone is in love, and we know when something stirs deep within someone’s heart…to the point it actually touches ours.

So, I cry out from the depths of my heart to the depths of yours.  I was lost and hurting, empty and wanting.  I was seeking in every place, in every way, and desperately lost, finding no fulfillment.  I struggled with a terrible depression, a hopeless emptiness, an endless seeking, and a desperate belief that that was simply what life was.  I became bitter.  I became selfish.  I blamed others.  I hurt others.  Badly. A lot of people, a lot of times.  I was blind to the realization that I was this way.  I thought I was a good person.  I tried to tell myself I was happy.  I tried to convince others I was happy.  But I knew I wasn’t fulfilled, and my actions were the result of that.  I put my every focus on myself – my search for my “happiness.”

Then God brought the rain roaring down on me, and He brought His waves crashing over my head.  I tried to hold my life, as I knew it, together.  But it unraveled. I was undone…exposed…a fraud.  Then I collapsed.  All that was left for me was surrender….to stop resisting and to give God what He had always been after…my heart…to accept that all He ever really wanted to do was save me from myself.  Like a father watches a son continuously walk into peril, God said to me, “Enough!!!”  And He reached down and snatched me up and saved me. He put me back on my feet and changed me.  That was the beginning of my walk – my fall, and my rebirth.  The greatest thing that ever happened to me.  Many people would tell you that the greatest day of their lives was the day they were married…or the day their children were born.  I would tell you that those days do not come close to the day the Heavenly Father came for me.  That was the beginning of a joy that has been a complete explosion in the depths of me.  I was baptized on August 12, 2013, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and since that moment I have walked in a freedom and fullness that I have never known.  I want so desperately for everyone to know this love.  This love of the God who is who He says He is.  I urge you from the bottom of my heart, to seek comfort in the only One who can meet you in your deepest need.  The one who knows you, fills you, and heals you in the deepest parts of who you are.  If you are already a believer, I urge you…go deeper! Let go of your baggage that is only weighing you down.  You will not find the ends of His love, and you will not seek him in vain.  Seek and you shall find. No matter how deep you go, He will go there with you.  The more you give up, the more you find. I know because I am experiencing it…more and more each day.  I love you and I want you to know these things. I don’t tell you these things because I read somewhere that it was what I was supposed to do, or because I feel like I need to prove something to you. I am dedicating my life to telling you these things because in Christ I found fullness and joy. Someone once told me…”If you knew Him like I know Him, you wouldn’t be able to shut up about Him either.” Truth. With all my heart I want you to have His love and His peace. From the deepest depths of my heart.

Deep calls to deep.

Bird York – In The Deep

Chad W. Hussey is an average Jesus loving iconoclastic non-conformist neighborhood hope dealer – a husband, father, urban missionary, community group leader, Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Community Life Intern at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.

Chad W. Hussey