The darkest place I’ve ever been

March 17, 2016 3 Comments by Josh Schlotterbeck

Saudi Night Sky


When I was 9 years old my family lived in Saudi Arabia.  A country with desserts so vast only 1.5% of it’s entire mass is inhabitable, leaving more than 98% of the country barren and desolate.  Very few people travel these areas because resources are scarce, and a simple cry for help will go unanswered.  It’s not a likely candidate for top tourist destinations; I mean the ad would read: “Dark, desolate, and hard to get to.  Limited water, no food, and big bugs…”  The deserts of Saudi Arabia are some of the darkest places I have ever been….but not the darkest.

The last ten months I have been absent.  I have been absent from work, from ministry, from my marriage, and my parenting duties.  Sure, I was present in all tangible respects; but something was missing.  My heart.   Ten months ago I was fired from a ministry position that I had only served in for three months.  It was a very painful experience for my family and I.  As a result I became cynical and cautious… I developed a hard heart.   This is the darkest place I have ever been.   Maybe you’ve been there and maybe you haven’t;  either way, I hope this helps.

My favorite childhood memories were forged in the darkness of those desserts.  I mean, I can close my eyes and re-live the fear and awe of being hundreds of miles away from the nearest sign of civilization.  It was dark, but it was also beautiful.  The most amazing thing about the darkest places on Earth is that those are the places the stars shine the brightest.  I have never seen a more beautiful sky in my entire life…and chances are neither have you.

Maybe the same is true for the darkest places you’ve been?
Maybe the most amazing place to be is dark, desolate, and void, and realizing you can’t survive on your own.
Maybe it’s only in the overwhelming darkness that the beauty of God’s grace can truly be grasped.
Maybe it’s only in our darkest struggles we become more aware than ever of our desperate need for Him.

While I would never want to wander this desert again, I know that God is somehow forging new life in me.  God’s grace has never shown more clearly to me than it is now.  I am reminded that in the dead of night, in the darkest of places, Jesus shines like the North Star and leads the way home because “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5


  1. Kevin Elworth says:
    Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 4:48pm


    This is a great piece you’ve written. I love how you brought up the brightness of the stars in a place so dark. It took my to a bible story I was reading to my kids from their children’s story book the other day of Abraham and God’s promise to him. He told Abraham (Abram at that time) to look at the stars and they would reflect the promises of God to Abraham of the children he would eventually have.
    In your darkness, God leaves you glimpses of light that reflect his promise that he’s not done with you yet. Keep your head up bro, and thank you for your transparency.


  2. Nancy says:
    Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 11:12pm

    Josh, you and your family are a shining example of God’s light and love in this world. That’s why Satan tries to come against you. Don’t let him put that light out! You are very good at being a music minister and I truly believe that is your calling. Remember, Jer 29:11….God has a plan for you. Hang in there, God will see you through. Will keep you in prayer. My love to all of you.


  3. Lauren Bradley says:
    Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 3:23am

    I completely understand this! Great analogy and I am glad to see “the light” shining in you again


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