Preeminent yet immanent, the Christ,
The holy word, the light, the lion-lamb,
Emptied himself to soon be sacrificed
In order to redeem and not to damn
The sin-stained souls of all who would believe
In heaven’s gift of peace and righteousness.
The angels sing! Rejoice, all you who grieve!
The Lord has come this day to save, to bless!
Behold the babe born to our soil and sod,
The timeless son translated into time,
The image of the invisible God,
The all transcendent Lord’s audible rhyme.
The infant in the manger you now see?
Upholder of the universe is he.
Last week, I wrote that the word of God discerns in us what we fail to discern ourselves, and I tried to show how this cutting work serves to draw us nearer to God. But what do we do when God reveals idolatry in our hearts? How should we respond when God highlights some object or dream or comfort or person and reveals to us our unhealthy attachment? The answer, I think, lies in how we understand gifts.
Though the night be filled with bitter sorrow,
Joy comes in the mourning, in the waiting,
In the ignorance, the hesitating.
In our times of testing, God is calling
Those with ears to hear to heed his whisper.
We perceive our need when we start falling
Then detect the Spirit’s voice grow crisper.
God, in perfect love, exposes fiction.
House of cards collapsed then on the table.
He reveals to us with clearest diction
That we need him and that he is able
To, in our great weakness, show his power,
Quenching not the wick nor crushing flower.
Hope then, soul, for God controls tomorrow.
Photo by Tyson Dudley on Unsplash
When I read that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), I often focus on the “desperately sick” aspect, recognizing the darkness of the human heart. But I don’t always consider the rest of the verse. Jeremiah also writes that the heart is deceitful above all things, asking, “Who can understand it?” The heart defies understanding by men. We do not know ourselves like we think we do. Thankfully, as Jeremiah shows, God searches the hearts and tests the minds of men, knowing us better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 17:10).
Your word: my great undoing, my delight.
I fear to look within, yet fear to stray,
For fear of you (sweet wisdom) shines a light
Upon my path and forces me to say
That I know not my heart or mind so well
As I assumed. This flesh doth e’er deceive.
No strength of will nor want could ever quell
Its tenor regnant. I cannot relieve
My soul from waywardness, for I am bound.
In ev’ry song I sing, I hear its sound.
Discern, speak truth, correct! Let me be found!
You see more clearly than I ever could
And cut more deeply than I wish you would.
I know that all of this is for my good.
Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash
I read Paul’s promise that God causes all things to work together for good for his people, and I think of Joseph. He recognized God’s divine purposes at work throughout the evil actions of his brothers, and, in so doing, he became a living example of the truth Paul later proclaims (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). No act, however evil, can thwart God’s sovereign purpose; he can use “all things” (Romans 8:28). When I consider this truth, I tend to associate the promise with the externals of life, which leaves me to wonder if the promise also rings true for the internals. I know God works through even the vilest of events which afflict us; does he work through our sorrow as well?
For what do I wait when I wait?
Do I lack the strength to complete
The journey before me? Does fate
Require more merit? Oh, this heat
Makes me restless. How long must I
Stay, unmoving as the process
Purifies me of worldly dye?
How long, O Lord? For I confess
I long to run. This surgery
May mend, but how it hurts me so!
I wonder, would you murder me
To purge the sin which lives below?
(Perhaps tis so.)
When can I go? When will this end,
This sanctification, this flame?
You who eternally transcend
My thoughts and ways, your holy name
Is both my hope and bane. I break
Before your unrelenting hand
Which works to my foundations shake
Until I trust in your command.
So have your way in me, I pray.
Though I may never comprehend
Your purpose, let me near you stay,
O God, the absolute, my end.
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash