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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)

TITLE: A Prayer in the Witching Hour
By Sharlyn Guthrie


Where are You, God?

Shadows submerge me in darkness. Gloom enshrouds me like a grave. It is the witching hour and the presence of evil is great. Where is Your Goodness? Heavy, my eyelids close. But sleep eludes me. The pallet is too hard, and I miss my pillow.

Where are You, God?

Today I walked strange paths, lined with unfamiliar sights. People pressed against me, people whose manner and odor were strong. I peered into gaunt faces with toothless smiles. Questioning eyes stalked me. Children pointed and giggled as I passed. Adults touched my pale skin and stroked my silky hair. Uncertain, I continued in silence, fearful of committing a cultural sin or murdering their native tongue.

Where are You, God?

My perceptions are keen, but You are remote. I search for a glimpse of Your beauty, but see only squalor. Where is your fragrance? These streets reek of urine. Your voice is drowned by distant drums rumbling to placate the demons. I cannot feel Your arms around me.

Where are You, God?

I heeded Your call and followed You here. You should be nearer than ever before, but You are absent. How will I speak unless Your Spirit speaks through me? How will I serve without your strength to hold me up? How will I love unless You love through me? How will I live without Your presence?

Where are You, God?

I found you as a child. My family lavished Your love upon me. Your grace brought me through cancer treatments and a concussion. Your Spirit overflowed in the prayer meeting where I met the aging missionary. Your joy surged through me when I promised to come to this distant land as her replacement. Not until now have I doubted. Was I duped? Deceived?

Where are You, God?

I didnít know that I would feel so insignificant and out of place. I didnít know that I would ache to hear my familyís voices. I didnít know that I would feel repulsed by the very people I came to serve. I didnít know that nighttime could be this dark or this lonely. I didnít know that You could be so elusive.

Where are You, God?

ďSearch me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Ē (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

Where are You, God?

You are in the loneliness, the stench, the unfamiliarity, the darkness, the silence. Slay my selfishness. Forgive my unbelief. Dispel my doubts. Quell my fears. Fill this jar of clay. Then, ďI will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.Ē (Psalm 4:8 NIV)

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This article has been read 1349 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/27/06
Thank you for voicing what many feel and experience in the dark hours of service. Well done.
Karen Schravemade10/29/06
Oh, I loved this!! You've touched the raw centre of emotion that many of us feel in Christian service, when our expectations do not match the reality... the feelings of insignificance when we thought we would be blessed for doing something "significant"...

You've hit the nail on the head with your last few sentences. "Slay my selfishness." It's all about God, not about us. Our reward is in serving; our peace comes out of humility. This story touched me, and I'm sure it has resonance for many. God bless you.
Donna Haug10/30/06
I love the repetition and the raw emotion. Good writing!
Peggy Bennitt10/31/06
"Fill this jar of clay." I love this line. It gave me goosebumps! The repetiion of the line, "Where are You, God?" was very effective in this piece. Wonderful ending paragraph!
Suzanne R11/02/06
Congratulations on placing, Sharlyn. This was especially beautiful. It was also good to see missionaries portrayed as REAL people with doubts, reactions to stress, questions.... In so many entries this week, missionaries were portrayed as being pretty much perfect - which is, of course, ridiculous. But you took something that is very real and made it beautiful even in the pain. Well done.
Birdie Courtright11/02/06
This is so gripping and real. The ending is beautifully thought provoking. Wonderful work!
Edy T Johnson 02/20/08
I so appreciated your leaving a comment on my "Free Speech" article so we could connect this way. You have given your reader a glimpse into the heart of every missionary, I have no doubt. Just like Peter, if we're distracted by the storm around us and our human frailty, we're bound to sink. But still, Jesus bids us come to Him, walking ON the water. Oh glorious Truth, Who is the Way!

Thanks muchly, friend, I appreciate you muchly and am always delighted to find your name under one of my stories.