A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Walking in the Dark

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

I am old enough to know there are things that go bump in the night…..
but someone should have warned me about the water hazards.

Gone are the days when I was able to sleep straight through the night.
An aging bladder has seen to that.

Because of that, whenever I am away from home for the night,
I make sure I know the path to the bathroom before I retire for the evening.

God may have promised to be with us through the valley of the shadows of death,
but I would also find it comforting to have a nightlight to get me through to the facilities.

Last summer, I was out of town to perform a wedding,
I stayed with the groom’s family in a rustic cabin.
The floors were creaky.
The doors opened with groans.

The bathroom was located at the top of a staircase.
My bedroom was down a narrow hallway.

I have heard it said,
“It is always darkest before they turn the lights on.”  *
In the middle of the night, with no nightlight,
this place was pitch black.

Because the bedrooms were so close to each other,
I didn’t want to turn on the lights and risk waking everyone up.

Like a kicker on a football team who retraces his steps before the big kick,
I analyzed every move that I would need to make in the dark.
I memorized the layout of the bathroom and
numbered my steps down the hallway.
I was ready for my nocturnal pilgrimage.

Like a bugler playing revelry in the army.
my bladder faithfully awoke me.

I moved to the door.
The unending creak as I opened it was worthy of any haunted house.
The snorers on the other side of the thin walls seem unbothered,

Eight and one-half steps down the hallway to the holy grail.
That would be eight and one-half steps until I ran into a wall.

I am not quite sure who moved the bathroom door after midnight,
but all of a sudden, I was completely disoriented.
It is one thing to be disoriented.
It is quite another to be disoriented in the pitch black at the top of a staircase.

Let me say that I do not mind dying.
But I do mind dying stupidly.
When people read my obituary,
it is not my preference that they laugh out loud.
What a poor man. He died in a vain attempt to find the toilet.”

Using every Helen Keller technique that I could muster,
I crawled on all fours till I found a door.
What I didn’t know was if it was the door to the bathroom or the neighboring master bedroom.

There are times in life when one just has to breathe deeply and take a chance.
The door moaned as I opened it slowly.
I sighed a sigh of relief as I felt a linoleum rather than a wooden floor.

Once inside the holy grail, I regained my composure.
That was, until I went to wash my hands.
In my early evening water closet boot camp,
I forgot to note that the water faucets on the sink were reversed.
Not reversed hot and cold, but reversed on and off.

When I couldn’t turn the faucet on,
I pushed it in the opposite direction.
This is when the water blasted out onto the sink which was so angled 
as to re-direct the water onto the foolish human that dared to use it.

In my attempt to avoid an undesirable encounter with liquids during the night,
I ended up soaked.

Life can at times,  feel a lot like walking in the dark.
The Bible has words four different words for darkness…..

The darkness of sin (disobedience) 
“Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19

The darkness of ignorance 
God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5

The darkness of demonic forces
“But this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”  Luke 22:53b

But the 4th type of darkness is different than those which describe people who don’t walk with God.
It is a darkness that comes upon those who do love and walk with God

Ever feel that your prayers are empty?
You wake up and feel spiritually empty?
You listen to teaching and it means nothing?
You read the Bible and it doesn’t speak to you?

It is an inexplicable feeling and withdrawn sense of the presence of God in your life.

St John of the Cross called it “the dark night of the soul”

Abraham felt it  (Gen 15:2)
Moses lived through it  (Deut 5:22)
Job was famous for experiencing it  (Job 30:26)
And you will experience it too.

Sometimes you just don’t have a night light that you need to find your way.

What can you do when you feel left alone in the dark?

1)     Keep going in the same direction you have been going with Him
Acknowledge that you don’t sense His presence but affirm that His Word does not change.

2)     Take time and recall all the things that God has done for you in your life 
          Remembering your past with Him will help to reveal that you have a future with Him

There IS light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t worry over the helplessness and emptiness that you currently feel.
If you need to, get on all fours, acknowledge you are lost,
and continue to crawl to where you know you need to go.

You might run into a wall
or get hosed down with water,
but remember, the darkness is only a tunnel.
And at the end of every tunnel, there is light.

Now could somebody, just get me a towel?????

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the years,
"Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown." 
He said to me, "Go out into the darkness
And put your hand into the hand of God
And He shall be to you brighter than a light 
And safer than a known way."   (Author unknown)

*John O’Hara

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