It is hard to hear the voice of God over the sound of your own heart breaking. When those you love fiercely are self-destructing, how do you silence the fears, disappointment, hurt, and even self-blame?
Love never fails. The noise of our hearts breaking is an echo of God’s heart. But love is not enough. Those who love others deeply often find themselves crying out for wisdom—for the counsel of God–so it is a problem when we can’t hear what God is saying.
Along the Oregon coast, near Yachats and right below Cape Perpetua is a place called Devil’s Churn. It is a long chasm in the volcanic basalt. The waves roll in and then bounce back from the sea cave that goes under Highway 101. The waves coming in crash into waves going out until a butter-colored seafoam is churned. Occasionally tourists fall in and are drowned or smashed against the rocks.
Sometimes I feel like I am in the devil’s churn. The intensity of my love makes me a mess of conflicting emotions. Those who fall into Devil’s Churn are most likely to survive if they catch an out-going wave and make it to open water.
Sometimes I must pray my way to open water. Old-timers called this praying through. I begin with absolute honesty and tell God all I feel. Next, I pray through some Scriptures—usually Psalms. I pray Scriptures because they rid my emotions of any lies spoken by Satan. For instance, it is perfectly right to be sad over the pain and danger stalking those you love, but it is destructive to surrender to despair. God’s Word, as you pray it, will sanctify the pain and His Spirit will clean the wounds to your heart. God will keep you uninfected with bitterness, resentment, or despair.
Next, I walk on the water. By faith, I speak God’s promises over the situation and people that are breaking my heart. This is nothing fancy—just me telling God stuff he already knows. I let God know how much He loves those folks. I tell Him what wonderful plans He has for them. And so on. When I am done, I feel I am out of the Devil’s Churn.
In the open water I can begin to hear God’s voice and listen to his counsel. I can hear something other than the ventriloquism of my desperate desires putting words in God’s mouth. I am cried out—emptied out and done thrashing about. I am ready to be rescued.
Sometimes God gives me wise counsel for those I love. Usually God talks about other stuff—and ignores my agenda. I have learned to let God set the topic of discussion. On occasion, after my heart grows quiet, God says nothing. We sit on the beach together and watch the sun set—our hearts breaking for those we love.