Download mp3 audio
"But Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord."
Most of the time it is a relaxed conversation, a part of the fiber of my daily routine. Other times it is ceremonial, orchestrated, rehearsed. At times it is forced, and dutiful, springing out of obligation and discipline. And then there are those rare moments when it consumes me. When it erupts from my core until my soul pours out before the Lord. In those moments-those soul-pouring moments-I do more than say my prayers-I brush up against the divine. I long for those moments-those rare moments when I pour out my soul to God and don't hold anything back.
But at the same time, I fear those moments. I feel like a small child standing at the side of the pool deciding whether into jump into his father's arms or not. God demands my soul along with my mind and my body-He wants it all. We don't usually talk about it, but it is easier to be in control, than out of control. It is easier to be needed than needy. It is easier to live with the illusion that I'm OK and I can make it on my own. Yet, I know that God wants me to be spiritually bankrupt before Him, totally dependant upon Him-vulnerable. So the struggle within me constantly churns as I capitulate between control and surrender. Between just living and being willing to pour out my soul. When I choose to "just live," there is something missing inside me, a feeling of being out of sync with the universe and its creator. A yearning begins to percolate in my core that screams out to reconnect with God. In the 42nd Psalm, David wrote, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?  My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'  These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.  Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and  my God." (Psalm 42:1-5 NIV)
When he wasn't connecting with God, David's parched soul withered away. Without nourishment, save his tears, the only voice he could hear was from his doubting friends. From his spiritual desert, the memory of walking with the Lord intensified his soul's throbbing. And when there was nothing left to do, he poured out his soul-longing to reconnect with the connecting one.
David was desperate for God. I know that I will never pour out my soul until I am desperate for Him. Not desperate for God's blessings but desperate for Him. Or to put it another way, there is no room for God in my life until I've poured out my soul. Until I'm emptied of my ambitions, preferences, uniqueness, idiosyncrasies, pride, abilities-down to my core, including my soul-God does not take up residence. As long as I believe I can handle life, I will not pour out my soul. There must be a dis ease in my soul, before I'll pour it out.
Often times God uses what we call "unanswered prayer" to cultivate the dis ease of our soul. Of course, the prayer is answered because "no" or "wait" is an answer-it just isn't the one we want to hear so we call it "unanswered." Have you ever thought about the arrogance of the phrase-unanswered prayers? God often uses the very thing we're praying for Him to remove to woe us into a right relationship with Him. Job cried out, "And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me." (Job 30:16 KJV)
Hannah had a dis eased soul that precipitated her soul pouring. 1 Samuel
1:10 says, "And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly."
(NASB) She was greatly distressed-she wept bitterly. This is a woman with
a heavy heart-a dis eased soul. There was a human root to the dis ease.
Her husband's other wife teased her, without mercy because Hannah was barren.
Barren-a harsh word for a harsh reality in her culture. In many ways her
worth, her justification for existence hinged upon her having children,
or at least she thought. The human root might have stirred up her dis ease
that led to her pouring out her soul to God, but it also became one of
the things that she would need to pour out. Those who are willing to be
a success for God are legion. Those who are desperate for God and want
Him even if it means being a failure are the blessed few. Would Hannah
have been willing to be barren for God if that was His will for her? Kelly
Williams faced a similar question when he was launching a new church start
in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the initial stages, the attendance
fluctuated, but never got over a handful. One night, nobody showed up and
Kelly faced the fact that he might not be cut out for church planting,
that he could fail. As he flirted with quitting, he opened his bible for
his daily quite time to John 10 and read Jesus' words about the good shepherd
that lays down his life for his sheep. "...as he read, Kelly heard God's
voice. I know you are willing to be a success for me, but are you willing
to be a failure for me? Are you willing to lay down your life for these
sheep? His open Bible opened his heart. 'Yes Lord, yes!' Williams prayed.
'I'll lay down my life for these sheep. If it is Your will, this is the
hill I'll die on, I'll fight to the bitter end.'" (Future Church, p. 155)