CHRISTIAN DARK ARTS
He made darkness His covering,
His canopy around Him,
thick clouds dark with water.
There is something mysterious about the dark. It plays with our minds. It can shake our confidence. Some of you know I’ve had a rough few weeks. As I stated at last Sunday night’s leadership training, all of my trials have been what I referred to as “First World” problems. It started while in worship a few Sundays ago when someone accidentally threw my camera on the floor and smashed its professional (A.K.A. ‘expensive’) lens. I experienced a small anxiety attack but remembered how to practice Christian dark arts. A few days later, on a particularly freezing cold day, I was mid-sentence counselling a married couple in trouble when I noticed my recent eternity ring (A.K.A. ‘expensive’) was missing off of my pinky finger. In that moment of discovery I froze but then composed myself as I remembered how to practice Christian dark arts. Later that night when I returned to the church to look for it, I cracked a rib (A.K.A. ‘hurty’) while reaching into one of the large bins in a vain search for it. And to top it all off, I am now immobile with a spine and its complicit thoracolumbar facia (A.K.A. “ouchy”). Fortunately though, I am countering these assaults with Christian dark arts.
¶ I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
THE ART OF WORSHIP
When I saw my beloved camera and its interchangeable lens hit the floor and fall apart, moments before Karen and I commenced our annual Q & A, I told myself, “The worship God in good times and hard times is not just a theory!” In that moment, I lifted my hands to focus on worshiping God and giving Him my attention. My worship in that moment was not dependent on who else was worshiping; how good the music was; who was worship leading; or whether I liked the song or not.
Perhaps the most profound picture of the dark art of worship is seen in King David when his child to Bathsheba was very sickly. He pleaded to God in prayer and fasting with deeply emotive petitions to spare the life of the child. This went on for quite a while. Eventually, when the child died, palace servants came to his room and discussed among themselves how they could tell David – fearing that if he was this emotional while child at least lived, how distraught would he become if he knew that the child had died? Sensing that something was amiss, David called out to them asking whether the child had died. “Yes” came the reply. David then got up, washed his face, and went to the place of worship and there worshiped God. This is the dark art of worship when true worship of God is seen in those times when it is very dark for us.
Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.
Second Samuel 12:20
THE ART OF WORSHIPING IN THE DARK
David’s checkered career was punctuated by worship. Psalm 18 is a profound account of how David had learned to worship in dark times. In this Psalm he expresses how he trusted God in the midst of deeply dark times. It was often in these times, he tells us in this song, that he came to learn that God was powerful, good, and awesome. He worshiped God because he knew who God was, and, he came to know who God was because he worshiped him – especially in the dark.
¶ For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
If we are to become the church God has called us to be, we must each practice the art of worshiping when it seems dark. Rather than prioritising our hurt, painful memory, disappointment, or offence, above our commitment to worship God in God’s House, we must learn to come together to worship God in these dark times. As we do, we may learn more about the God we are worshiping – just as David did.