by: Matthew T. Murphy
A friend’s father has a stroke, is on the gurney, almost certainly present with the Lord, but machines are keeping part of him here. The dark place is where I need to be. A student cutting herself to escape the emotional pain of abuse and rape sits alone in a darkened dorm room. The dark place is where I need to be. A guy on a weekend retreat awake at night wondering whether he should ask a girl to the prom and is dealing with issues regarding not being able to put on weight, believing he looks like a hollowed out bean pole. The dark place is where I need to be. The unexpected tragedy; the veiled insecurity; the contemplation that the world would be better off if “I didn’t wake up tomorrow.” The dark place is where I am called to be.
The transient journey of an adolescent can turn from smooth sailing to a high wire act over an abyss within seconds. Often, randomly I find myself feeling compelled at times to go out and meet with people in the middle of the night. Finding them wandering the streets facing the above situations, being used in these situations to give hope, a hand, a hug, mostly silence. Giving them the hope (sense or knowledge) that even though they may feel messed up beyond reconciliation, they are loved more than they ever will know from a Savior who bleeds for them too.
The dark place is where I am called to be in life. It is irrelevant where or when these dark places happen, but my call is to be there when it does so I can be used of God for their assurance of God’s grace. I envision myself working in a church, doing counseling and youth ministry. I believe that a suburban ministry is what I am most accustomed to, but God can change those things (I still can’t believe I am doing Denver Seminary). I want to present a ministry to “churched” and “non-churched” kids to the point that one of my mentors, states to detractors: “Those ‘non-churched’ kids have a better attendance record here than you.” There have been people who have come into my life with the basic notion, “Yes, you may be messed up, but you’re cool in my book and Jesus loves you regardless.” I want to use my Social Work schooling to help counsel and my Seminary work to point those I counsel to the redemption found only in Jesus Christ. I envision a redemptive ministry where people can find healing and wholeness and Christ regardless of their life’s situation.
Each of those places above I have been, held hands, prayed, cried and sat helping those in dark places to experience AGAPE, in their hour of need. I have spoken with words not my own in these situation and assured friends, fellow students, and strangers in a manner that makes those in their dark place not be alone in their dark place. I pursue a call to the Dark Places not of my own choosing, but of God’s compulsion. I’ve worked in fields offering similar support full time hours and done ministry part time hours, but found myself giving full time heart to the ministry of dark places and grinding along at other jobs until God enabled me to attend seminary.
So, here I pursue a ministry to Dark Places, not knowing when they come or to whom I may be called, but knowing that God is forging me into an instrument of light to those in dark places.