“I cry to you O Lord, I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry for I am brought very low!’”
David cries Psalm 142 from the darkness of a cold, damp cave. He is on the run from the madness of King Saul. He is in hiding. The crown prince of Israel is hiding in a cave. He has lost everything, and he now finds himself alone, cold and afraid in the darkness. He was now a cave dweller.
As teenagers, my friends and I came into the discovery of some caves outside of our hometown. These caves were not like the majestic caverns we saw on vacations. These caves were small holes in the side of small rock outcroppings out on a farm. The cave openings were small, but the passages were tight and long. We always went deep into the caves. It was more frightening that way. They were dark and damp, and there was a stench always present due to bat droppings. We always went in with flashlights, but we always came to the time when, in sequence, we turned the flashlights off. It was then that we not only saw the darkness, we felt it. We felt the depth of the loneliness and helplessness of the dark. Our paths were hidden. We knew not where to go. We just stood there, afraid to move. We always screamed and cried out. But this was fun. Real caving dwelling is not so much fun. I have been in other caves since I was a teenager, but these caves were not openings in the earth, they were openings in my spirit. Truth be known, most of us have been cave dwellers sometime in our life, maybe many times. We’ve spent time in the darkness crying out to God for help. For our business, or our marriage, our parents, our children, our health, or our fears. Sometimes we’ve even cried out not to God, but for God. “Have you forsaken me?” At a time when C.S Lewis found himself helplessly stumbling in the dark, in one of his dark cave dwelling experiences, he cried out to God, and he said, “A door slammed in my face, and I heard the sound of bolting and double bolting inside. After that, silence.” I too have heard the heavenly silence. But I too, have seen in the darkness the heavenly light. It was always there, because God was always there. He is in every cave experience. He is not only in every cave experience, He is behind every cave experience. Because it is in the cave dwelling that we find the Indwelling. In Rosedale where I work with the youth, we built an unusual garden shed. It is a garden shed, but it is also a camera obscura. In one side of the shed is a small half-inch hole. When one is inside the garden shed, with all the doors shut, as one’s eyes adjust to the darkness, the small hole, by God’s divine, cosmic miracle, projects the outside garden on the inside wall. It is remarkable! I remind the kids, as I always remind myself, the Light will always reveal itself in the darkness. Always! And the Light always changes us. The Light always transforms us. When we were teenagers in the cave, and our flashlights we’re still out, and our screaming had stopped, we always sat in the cave in silence. And we waited. Before long, the light from the small cave opening hundred of yards in the opposite direction, always found its way to us in the darkness. It was remarkable. The next step we always took was to find our way out of the cave not with our flashlight, but with God’s light. We always made it out. And we always felt changed. David went into the cave running from a crazy king. He came out reaching for a crown. David rose from a cave triumphant. Christ rose from a cave triumphant. We can rise from our own cave triumphant. Embrace your cave dwelling experience. The Light will always be revealed. Transformation awaits.
I write these words at this time with tears in my heart. I write with real tears in my eyes as I type. I have just found out that my son’s best friend has entered into a cave. The wife of my son’s best friend was killed in an automobile accident today. Their baby is in ICU. This cave is so very, very dark. And so we enter the cave with others sometimes, don’t we? And perhaps that is why we must embrace our own cave dwelling experiences. They shape us. They prepare us. They fuel us. They ignite us. Why? Because the days will come, the days will most assuredly come when we will be called to move from cave dwellers to become torch bearers, the days when Christ calls us to be His light in the darkness of the abyss. Today is one of those days. Pray hard for them. Oh, pray so very hard for them. Be the light. Burn brilliant and radiant in the darkness of others. Today, tomorrow, forever.