With Him, Within: The Battle

Lord,
I wanna fight temptation tonight
&
I wanna sit in sin and miss my flight.
“What’s one more? It’s just a little plight…”
Grace me with power, O Lord.

Let my bed your worship redound,
Help me obey when no one’s around;
“God’s holding out on you” slithers the sound;
Power me with grace, O Lord.

You’re sweeter and stronger than my lust,
Cleanse my heart though its frame be dust,
My actions to sing: “In you alone I trust.”
Grace me with power, O Lord.

Free me to love you by controlling my self,
Theft me poor to sin, this a holy wealth,
Whatever the cost, “in sickness or health:”
Power me with grace, O Lord.


 

For further meditation:

  • Genesis 39:12; Psalm 1:1; 63:6; James 4:1-10

I Overheard Happiness at Bath Time

Mama & daughter giggle in the suds,
Babygirl & sister wriggle crackin’ up,
Sissy & bride squeal with white wine,
Onward, ladies, thunder! Roll your joyful tides!

From hearts, dam-busting; founts
of these, your baptizing, glad refrains.
How Sarah’s son treasures the bellows:
the resetting glees his gals hurricane.

I didn’t know folks could hear it:
chords of happiness hooting ring,
But, ah, now I see it—that hearing
laughter is hearing happiness,
guffawing hymns that smiles sing.

M’dearies, please howl on your melodies,
your chortling, cheerful cacophonies,
for your sonance croons venerating:
That Jesus goofed ‘n laughed, joked ‘n jabbed;
That God composed these beats.

And they are good. And I am thankful.
And—haha—Lord, may we roll again.



For further meditation:

What Silences Storms?

My bliss, your diction;
My heart’s inscription,
Your Word, nix tricks and jokes not.

It cuts. It convicts.
Tastes rich, thick its sips,
Your Word to my lips burns hot.

Taught me truth and right.
Taut string, me the kite;
Your Word tugs—in flight, I soar!

Up, up! from the depths,
When I hear God’s breath,
Your Word: “No more death,” it roars!

And I limp out my door, hopeful
again, continuing homeword.

 

Reviews & Rearviews or In Reverse, Slowly

Faithful Father, too often
I look back on your deeds
as a driver does her rearview
mirror: a second glance,
and I forget the mile.

But this is no holy amnesia;
this is no Philippians 3:13.

Help me, Lord, to review
your works with turtle-likeness;
help me not to leave miracles
—like my conversion—in my past
unvisited; help me to quit
Indy Five Hundreding my life.

For speed is sexy, but faithfulness?
It’s a track best driven slowly.

A Day Off Work, A Day On Family

image1

Today I went among an orchard
with a ball of peanut butter on wheels,
which is to say I went apple-picking
with my daughter. And my queen,
mine and no one else’s,
She rode shotgun, too.

We all laughed, took pictures.
We did, I guess, what families do.
Which meant times were largely good,
though some hangry. But about the latter:
we repented quickly; by God’s grace
we were short with one another only a
short while.

But my time of looking at them, these gifts? Was l o n g;
long like God’s grey sky that day,
like the drive out there and like
the Moana soundtrack we played babygirl on the way back.

Yet here and there and there and here,
I’d look at them
because long ago my eyes decided:
time away from these two
was the worst kind of time.

So, we left the apple farm, got lunch,
changed a diaper and came home pooped.
Still I prayed, “Long live the day.”

 

“The Touch of the Master’s Hand” by Myra Brooks Welch

Perhaps you’re struggling with worth—either that of yourself or someone else. Perhaps it seems that person you’re sharing the gospel with will never believe, or that you are too far gone to know the Lord’s grace. I came across this poem that celebrates how God can take what seems worthless and make it new. He has done this over and over. From Rahab the prostitute to Paul the terrorist—God takes what and whom the world deems valueless, those “scarred with sin,” and makes them new and precious. He does this chiefly by giving us the precious righteousness of his own son, Jesus! How much would Paul have rejoiced in this truth as one who was “battered” by sin, that though we once were enemies of God, in Christ we are “new creations. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 5:10). This turning of people (represented by old violins in Welch’s work) brings God great glory, though it confounds the world. As Paul says, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Will you know and rejoice in this power today? 

‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—-” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine;
A game–and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I’m not sure where Paul Laurence Dunbar — widely known as one of the first premier, african-american poets of the 19th century — was with the Lord . But his famed poem, “We Wear the Mask” seems like one that would resonate all the more deeply with American citizens given all that’s gone on in the media, cities, and minority/police relations. The reason the piece struck me is because it basically sounded like a modern Psalm — uninspired, of course. The plea to Christ in the last stanza rings of a Davidic lament — a cry from a “tortured soul.” This past Sunday, my preacher heralded the glories of Luke 12 for his sermon. In verse 50 of this passage, the Lord says, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” This baptism refers to his death, but what struck me was his distress; surely, the torture his soul went through was not only on the cross. So for any tortured souls out there, for any wearing a mask of a smile but who scream on the inside, turn to Christ this day. He is able to sympathize like none other. Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!