Friday, October 15, 2010

A Prayer in the Witching Hour

I wrote the following prayer for the topic "missionary" in the Faithwriters writing challenge. It earned 2nd place overall. It is fictional, in that I wrote it before I had any personal experience with mission work. It is based on conversations with close friends who had experienced fear, loneliness, and other difficult situations and emotions as foreign missionaries. These are the things that aren't often addressed in a traditional missions update. These are the reasons we should hold our missionaries up in prayer on a regular basis. They are people just like any of us, endowed with every human frailty and emotion.

A Prayer in the Witching Hour
by Sharlyn Guthrie

Where are You, God?

Shadows submerge me in darkness. Gloom enshrouds me like a grave. It is the witching hour and the presence of evil is great. Where is Your Goodness? Heavy, my eyelids close. But sleep eludes me. The pallet is too hard, and I miss my pillow.

Where are You, God?

Today I walked strange paths, lined with unfamiliar sights. People pressed against me, people whose manner and odor were strong. I peered into gaunt faces with toothless smiles. Questioning eyes stalked me. Children pointed and giggled as I passed. Adults touched my pale skin and stroked my silky hair. Uncertain, I continued in silence, fearful of committing a cultural sin or murdering their native tongue.

Where are You, God?

My perceptions are keen, but You are remote. I search for a glimpse of Your beauty, but see only squalor. Where is your fragrance? These streets reek of urine. Your voice is drowned by distant drums rumbling to placate the demons. I cannot feel Your arms around me.

Where are You, God?

I heeded Your call and followed You here. You should be nearer than ever before, but You are absent. How will I speak unless Your Spirit speaks through me? How will I serve without your strength to hold me up? How will I love unless You love through me? How will I live without Your presence?

Where are You, God?

I found you as a child. My family lavished Your love upon me. Your grace brought me through cancer treatments and a concussion. Your Spirit overflowed in the prayer meeting where I met the aging missionary. Your joy surged through me when I promised to come to this distant land as her replacement. Not until now have I doubted. Was I duped? Deceived?

Where are You, God?

I didn’t know that I would feel so insignificant and out of place. I didn’t know that I would ache to hear my family’s voices. I didn’t know that I would feel repulsed by the very people I came to serve. I didn’t know that nighttime could be this dark or this lonely. I didn’t know that You could be so elusive.

Where are You, God?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

Where are You, God?

You are in the loneliness, the stench, the unfamiliarity, the darkness, the silence. Slay my selfishness. Forgive my unbelief. Dispel my doubts. Quell my fears. Fill this jar of clay. Then, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8 NIV)

Today's Fiction Friday is being hosted by Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Please take the time to visit her blog and follow the links to some of the other great fiction.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sequence of Joy

Sequence of Joy

Like unexpected cool, refreshing rain
showered on the evil and the just,
joy seeps through lingering clouds of grief and pain,
sprinkling those who do and do not trust.

On chance and circumstance this joy depends
…perilously totters on a rail.
A sudden gust or shifting of the winds
topples and defeats its effort frail.

This joy erupts, but soon it must elapse,
as surely as a wilting withering leaf.
Beholden, it drifts just beyond my grasp,
a temporary bliss however brief.

Yet there exists a rare, uncommon joy
for those who lean upon the Father’s breast;
one that doom and crisis can’t destroy,
regardless how they put it to the test.

Planted deep, this joy springs from the Source.
The Spirit tends His flourishing fruit with care.
Inspiring and efficacious force,
His bounteous, blessed gift He’s pleased to share.

Still, joy is tempered here by sin and woe.
The bridegroom yearns to make my joy complete!
Consummate, boundless streams of joy will flow,
Immersing me before His mercy seat.

~Sharlyn Guthrie