Bitterness inhabits me,
Burns within these weary bones,
Breaks the heart’s song, shifts the key —
Melodies to monotones.
Feelings fixate on frustrations,
Fast forgetting joy and peace.
Anger turns to accusations
As emotions seek release.
Father, temper this, my temper,
Tossed midst waves of woes and whims.
Devastate my vile distemper.
Heal my heart through holy hymns.
Christ has borne more suffering,
Bears me up in all I face.
Make of me an offering.
Let me ever sing of grace.
Photo by Alina Chupakhina on Unsplash
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
In spirit and truth.
In response to a question about places of worship, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman of a coming shift in perspective. Soon (indeed, sooner than many of the day realized), true worship would no longer be identified with a specific location, neither at Jerusalem (where the Jews worshiped) nor Mount Gerizim (where the Samaritans worshiped). True worshipers would worship in spirit and truth.
But what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?
I feel the pain but cannot find the benefit.
The path I would have chosen seemed a better fit.
Yet tests portend the sacrifice. I see my wraith
Point to my cross and call me to walk forth by faith.
Faith does not promise answers, bids me follow still;
Points past my understanding to the Father’s will;
Grounds hope not in the knowing but in being known;
Endures uncertainty certain of heaven’s throne.
Faith fixes focus not on the ephemeral
But finds eternal joy within the temporal.
It lays aside success and loss for higher gain
And trusts the one who gives and takes to justly reign.
Obedience bids me to die to self in this,
To trust the process in this brief parenthesis.
The work you do is good, as it shall always be.
Steadfast unto perfection is the course for me.
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
You might know the story.
People struggle to respond to imperfect people.
Remember now the darkness of those three long days before
The dawning of the day of resurrection,
For few have felt the fear of thinking God had lost the war.
The shadow of his people’s insurrection
Now loomed across the future. Now our hope seemed spent and slain.
The light of life appeared to be extinguished.
The ones who sang his praises now in shock sang no refrain.
His life, howe’er, was willingly relinquished.
What seemed to be a sure defeat was fixed before the fall.
The devil’s darkest scheme was his undoing.
As Christ was lifted up, he drew all men to heed his call.
He drained the cup of wrath our sin was brewing.
The bitter silence of that Sabbath day must have been great.
Unheard, Satan’s presumpt’ous celebration.
When was it Satan realized the cross had sealed his fate?
The slaughtered lamb became our faith’s foundation.
We now look back in wonder at this work in history
And sing with joy to God who reigns eternal.
The cornerstone came forth again in holy victory
O’er ev’ry sin, the mean and the infernal.
The resurrection of the Son secured our joy and peace.
No enemy can sabotage or sever
Us from the Father’s love. In him, sin’s slavery must cease.
Sing praise, his people, now and to forever.
Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash
Let them know me not for my mind
Or my manners. Keep from them all
Tendency to love my name (kind
Flattery). Their praise is my fall,
For I know my heart enough to
Predict its vain response. They call
For me, and I shamefully do
All that I can to earn their awe.
I must decrease. I must decrease,
For I, though only briefly, saw
Your glory. Arrogance must cease,
For you alone warrant all fear
And worship. You who dwell above
Creation yet art ever near,
You meet us with your perfect love.
I am undone. Let me then be
A humble vessel. Let my boast
Be only of your grace to me.
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
This clay can claim no title. You
Alone are worthy. Let all eyes
That look on me always see through
And your great glory recognize.
Be evident in all I do.
Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash
Do flowers honor Father more than I?
For they do not rebel against his name,
Never abandon purpose to proclaim
Another glory. Ev’ry passerby
Is bidden by the bud to look beyond,
To glimpse the author of the grand design.
I point as well, but I demand a fine,
Some profit for the prophet. Still, the frond
Is ever faithful. Though its days are few,
Great kings cannot compare to its array,
A testimony from the soil and sod.
Look closely and detect the divine hue
And find the same at work within your clay.
All beauty bears the signature of God.
Photo by Milos Tonchevski 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).
(Photo by Julien Lanoy on Unsplash)
O Father who in heaven dwells
In holiness and light,
Keep me away from worthless wells,
From ev’ry foolish fight,
From ev’ry hellish height,
From trusting in my might,
And purify my sight,
And keep me through the night.