Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Prayers in a Dark Place

Wednesday, December 3, 2014[1]
In a moment of reflection, I closed my eyes. With the world silenced, I recalled those times in my life when I was praising God from the mountaintop. I recalled the joy of my wedding day, as I stood disbelieving that the woman at the end of the aisle had chosen me. I recalled the birth of my daughters and that wonderful sense of awe that only ten little toes and ten little fingers could create. In those mountaintop moments, I gave my love and trust to a God that was visible.
I also recalled those painful moments when I was far from the mountaintop. I remember the darkness surrounding me in moments when I failed to be a husband or father I could be. I remembered the darkness when my wife’s routine visit turned into a cancer diagnosis. When I was in the muck of the valley, God was so much harder to see. My prayers became less about praise and thankfulness than about demanding answers.
In the shadow and darkness, my prayers became rawer. Knee deep in the muck, I wanted to know why us, or why me. Our hurt was not what we had agreed to. In those dark moments, my anger would rush like a tidal wave with demands for not only help but vengeance and retribution. I wanted God to fix things and fix them according to my heart, not God’s.
Psalm 79 is often called the ‘prayer from the pit’ as it recalls the anger and hurt of those moments when we find ourselves far from the mountaintop. It is raw and asks for vengeance. It also becomes our reminder that when we find ourselves in the valley that our God doesn’t expect prayers that are flowing with milk and honey. Instead, God longs for his place among the rawness. It’s not what I say, but my desire to reach out to God that matters most. Psalm 79 is our reminder that in those moments in the muck, it’s about giving a muddy place to God.
How has God worked in those moments when you have found yourself in the pit?
What can we do to help ourselves see God precisely in those moments before they arrive?
Pastor Scott Masters, Asbury Church, Chesterfield, NH;
New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church 10

[1] During this blessed season of Advent we will enjoy together daily devotions which are shared by Local Pastors and Associate Members of the United Methodist Church from around the United States.  I had the privilege of participating in this project, and look forward to sharing these daily uplifting thoughts with you over the season from now (Thanksgiving) to January 1st.  Each author will be identified, and we thank them in advance for each contribution.

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