Key Word:- HOPE
Title:- The Devil’s Arse
1 Kings 19:9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I come from limestone country. The beautiful Peak District of Derbyshire contains some of the most magnificent caves in the world. Indeed, ‘Blue John’ a beautiful fluor-spar is only found in Castleton, the ‘Gem of the Peaks’. In this same town lies the 11th century Norman Castle of Peveril. Directly beneath this scary edifice, is the largest natural cave entrance in Britain and second largest in the world. This enormous cave, interestingly named as ‘The Devils Arse’ opens its wide mouth, only to eventually envelope you in utter darkness. I remember as a young boy being toured round the cave when the guide pointed to a small opening on the ceiling of an inner cavern and hauntingly reported that, “through this very hole, prisoners from the dungeon of Peveril Castle, were dropped into the cavern. The townspeople could hear their lost screaming for days as the prisoners, left to go mad in the unrelenting darkness, would eventually whine and whimper into silence and death.” For effect, the small lights were then turned out. You could not see your hand in front of your face and the whisps of cold wind brushing along your flesh, felt like taunting malevolence. ‘Reactor scram’ incidents on board a nuclear submarine, cruising a few hundred feet underneath the North Atlantic, are the only other time I have experienced such felt and hopeless darkness.
The Bible indicates that in ancient times, similar limestone areas were riddled with caves, which were used for burial, imprisonment, housing and refuge. Warriors, especially those involved in mighty conflict, would often retreat into them to hide from their enemies and lick their wounds. As many of you ladies know, even today, men still have their caves that they retreat into. Caves may provide some solace and protection for a band of brothers, but pity the man that enters such a cave alone. I am a Celt. Circumstances will often force me into the mouth of my cave. My temperament however, will always try to take me deeper. As a caveman myself, this is my danger, for there is no greater, nor seemingly inescapable darkness, no more terrible entrapment, no more desperate falling than that of dire depression.
Some of you will know, and allow me to use the name of the cavern under Peveril Castle to describe the mad death that comes with such overwhelming despondency, for truly, to be overcome by depression is to be devoured, in the ‘The Devils Arse’. Be careful how deep you go. Look: Elijah the prophet, battle worn and travel weary; only by the mercy and provision of God, arrives at Horeb thoroughly depressed, yet still at the place of revelation, he seats himself in the mouth of a cave. Look: David the King, battle worn and travel weary, only by the mercy and provision of God, arrives at Adullam, thoroughly depressed, yet still at the place of revelation, he seats himself in the mouth of a cave.
My observing of these two cavemen, has Elijah far deeper in depression than David. God has to come to him and draw both him and his problems out. David, on the other hand, appears to have spent the night in the cave gazing from the entrance to the morning stars and the rising sun. With the coming of the light, mornings warmth spreads through his body and he gingerly lays hold of his lute and sings a prayer of hope in the face of seeming hopelessness.
Rising from depression is just that: moving towards the mouth of the cave looking for the light, listening for God and singing songs of hope in the face of felt hopelessness. We need some light, some warmth to do this. We need at least to move to the front of our cave and watch eastward for His arrival.
Friend. What are you doing here? Look out, look up and listen. Feel the goodness of God oozing and easing into your being. Tell Him your story and sing of your trust and hope in Him. Put on the warrior once more and sing to your own soul today.
Listen:- Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. Psalm 57:1
Pray: - Send help O Lord from the sanctuary. Send wind and fire and earthquake; Send warmth to my soul Oh God and lift my head to the rising Son. Put a new song in my mouth today O Lord. Amen.