The Dark Guest

by Gavin  

The Dark Guest

Shadows and dark corners and unlit areas are typically spaces to be avoided.  The thought of what might be lingering in those spaces causes a certain fear to well us within us.  “Might there be a presence, a person, a thing there which I cannot see?”  Dark corners in homes and gardens and bedrooms cause us to think twice about going there without adequate illumination.  The apprehension of what might be there is shaped by some lingering, deep rooted form of Achluophobia, Arachnophobia, Entomophobia, Lygophobia or Merinthophobia (Google those – it’ll be fun! J)


But there is a real concern that should govern the hearts of true believers in Christ… the presence of indwelling sin.  I don’t think we actually have a clue as to how deep-rooted our own sin actually is.  Sure, the penalty of it was paid at the cross when Christ died.  The power of sin was broken.  Sure, we’re called to live in the light of those realities – to be free and victorious, living as those free from sin.  But the reality is that believers will struggle each and every day.  There is, as an unnamed Puritan write centuries ago, a Dark Guest which still resides in us.


Jeremiah was correct when he wrote these divinely inspired words :


The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)


There is a depth to our own state of heart deception we just do not get – we deceive ourselves as to how bad we actually are.  So when Jeremiah follows that statement up with this, where does that leave us?


““I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”” (Jeremiah 17:10, ESV)


God’s divine X-Ray vision penetrates down to the deepest recesses of the human heart.  His illumination gaze rips away our veneer, and causes the origin of all attitudes and speech and behaviour to be revealed.  Hmmmm…. If I am honest, that cannot be pretty.  I self-deceive all the time.  I justify and excuse and downplay behaviour and attitudes.  I slip into self-righteousness along with the next person as easily as slipping on a favourite T-shirt.  And yet this verses destroys any sense of illusion – because God knows, God sees and God responds.  Thus, the Dark Guest I pretend is not there, or has been successfully expelled or muted is revealed…


And so I need to loop back and pray a prayer like this, in the light of this reality.  This was penned centuries ago, but is as relevant today as it was back then…


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


 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.







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