The Dark Guest…

May 19, 2010


I love the title of the little book, The Valley of Vision.  For the unfamiliar, it is a book containing a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions.  Some of the most beautiful Christian writing, and some of the deepest spiritual truths are to be found within it’s pages.  The title speaks to me about walking through life and seeing clearly the truth as God expresses it.  But, I must say, that meditating on just that one phrase can yield a bouquet of thoughts. 

This morning, for a time of meditation, I read through the prayer entitled “The Dark Guest.”

O Lord,

Bend my hands and cut them off, for I have often struck thee with a wayward will, when these fingers should embrace thee by faith.

I am not yet weaned from all created glory, honour, wisdom, and esteem of others, for I have a secret motive to eye my name in all I do.

Let me not only speak the word sin, but see the thing itself.

Give me to view a discovered sinfulness, to know that though my sins are crucified they are never wholly mortified.

Hatred, malice, ill-will,vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after man’s approval and applause, all are crucified, forgiven, but they rise again in my sinful heart.

O my crucified but never wholly mortified sinfulness!
O my life-long damage and daily shame!
O my indwelling and besetting sins!
O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart!

Destroy, O God, the dark guest within whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.

Yet thou hast not left me here without grace; The cross still stands and meets my needs in the deepest straits of the soul.

I thank thee that my remembrance of it is like David’s sight of Goliath’s sword which preached forth thy deliverance.

The memory of my great sins, my many temptations, my falls, bring afresh into my mind the remembrance of thy great help, of thy support from heaven, of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am.

There is no treasure so wonderful as that continuous experience of thy grace toward me which alone can subdue the risings of sin within:

Give me more of it.

This is the hatred of the Inner man.  This is sincere soul wrenching.  This is me…  My hands deserve to be cut off.  I have struck God with my wayward will. 

I have to be honest with my Christian brethren.  The things that this author (indeed poet) states are true to me.  Pride, secret motives, esteem of others, all of this colors everything that I do.  Truly, this being the case, then the only good things that come out of me are because of Christ.

Our sins are metaphorically dark because they’re hard to see.  The author talks of seeing sin, of giving it form.  He talks of having a view into our own heart.  Surely, our plee to God would be for Him to grant us sight to our own sinful nature; to give us awareness of its presence.  More often than not we can’t clearly see this.  Don’t we mollify our sin and call it respectable?  How can we be sincere with God if we don’t acknowledge and mortify all sin in our life? 

Oh, we need so much for God to make us aware of our sins, to make us aware of the cross and the price He paid to justify us.  Only then can we truly mark the severity of our disobedience and our need for the sweet grace of Christ.  Altogether thorough, Christ shows us that He provides all that we need.  He provides awareness, He enables mortification, He empowers obedience, and He cleanses us completely from our body of death, our dark guest.  In glory, once there, the contrast will be sharper.  Then we will know the total value of God’s grace.  We will have joy over our salvation.  And, how should I say this, we won’t shed a tear for the suffering in hell for by that time we will know that all is justified.

This is truly a haunting prayer; seemingly, in the context of fear, giving rise to both sadness and joy.

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