Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Pit

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing...
Psalm 40:1-3

The pit of despair. It sounds so looming, so ominous. And it is. But it sounds so theatrical that it couldn't be real... The Pit of Despair. Like the title of a chapter in an adventure story or a punishing place into which deceptive criminals are thrown; it has a fantastical ring to it. So often whenever I've heard of The Pit, I've envisioned a deep well like the one Joseph was thrown in-- a place of reproach and purposeful isolation with the outside world continuing on happily as normal, while beneath the surface some poor soul is despairing their guts out (and for good reason!).

I think I can safely say I know The Pit. At least I know the shadow of it, I've felt its cold, still air sting my fingertips and carried the weight of its deep shadows in my heart. All the while feeling forgotten, neglected, and lonely. Abandoned. Like a little girl who was sent to the closet for a time-out, but didn't understand why... "What did I do wrong?"

But as I read David's heart cry last night, something stirred in me... What if the pit wasn't a punishment, but a place of safekeeping? What if despair wasn't describing the condition within the pit, but the condition surrounding it? Instead of life continuing on happily and normally on the outside as always assumed, what if it suddenly became truly treacherous and full of danger? I mean, if the whole world is crashing down, a deep underground shelter is a very safe place to be...

Suddenly I'm seeing the pit in a whole new light. What if this isn't a punishment, but a place of preservation and safekeeping? And all God asks us to do is wait patiently here... Wow. My fingernails are bleeding from scraping at these in-scalable walls for so long, and suddenly I'm so humbled.

I will wait. Because his promises are good, and he has a solid, open place for me. Because there's a song he's preparing me to sing into a despairing land. Because I trust him.

I will wait.

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