Light in the Pit Part 3 Worship from the Dark Place

There another thing I would like to say about the pit and that is the importance of creating a place of worship right in the middle of your dark corner.

One of the best ways to illustrate this is in a story that was relayed by Medford, Jedd and Erik Lokkesmoe.  In their book The Revolutionary Communicator, they tell the story of Brother Kolbe, a 45-year-old Franciscan monk who lived during World War II. Brother Kolbe was a man with kind eyes and a gentle heart who lived in a monastery with 700 other priests. As Poland fell, Brother Kolbe urged the hundreds of priests who lived in the monastery to leave while he took care of the hundreds of Jewish refugees arriving every day. Brother Kolbe was warned that the Nazis were getting close to arresting him, but he still chose to stay. A year later, he was arrested and placed in the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz.  Every prisoner suffered from exhaustion and starvation, but Brother Kolbe chose to serve them.  Every night before he went to sleep on his uncomfortable pallet, Brother Kolbe would check on each prisoner in their bed.  “Is there anything I can do?”, he would ask. He would bind up any wounds and provide comfort and prayer for those in need.  The camp doctor later said, “I never saw such an example of love”.

One warm July evening, the silence was shattered by an alarm. A prisoner escaped and by morning he had not been found. This meant that the guards were going to take it out on the prisoners. They took 14 prisoners and made them stand all day in the hot sun. Some fainted from the heat; others collapsed dead.  As the sun began to sink into the horizon, the Commander came forward and said, “The prisoner has not been found, therefore 10 of you will die in the starvation bunker”.  The prisoners preferred a bullet to the head than the starvation bunker. It was not just starvation, but your tongue and brain would swell in the heat, and your insides would shrivel up.

As the officer picked 10 men to die, Brother Kolbe was not one of them. He interrupted the officer, the replied, “What do you want, pig?”.  “I want to die in the place of one of the men you picked”. 

The man Kolbe picked thanked him with his eyes when he told the story years later.

Within moments, Brother Kolbe walked into the starvation bunker with the 9 others.

As the days passed, one by one they began to die of the swelling and dryness. To survive some would lick the moisture off the walls and did things that cannot be mentioned.

Outside of the starvation bunker, they would normally hear cries of suffering and anguish. Instead they heard singing. Father Kolbe was leading the men home.

Henry Nouwen used to talk about transforming your loneliness into solitude. When you get that isolated feeling in your cave experience, invert it into a season of sweet communion with the Father. Don’t allow the darkness to consume you, but instead realize that God is never in the dark. In fact, darkness has no affect on Him at all.

Darkness and light are alike to You. Psalm 139:12c (NAS)