A Grateful Servant

I will praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Even when my blessing seems a meager portion–
Even when I am incapable of understanding
The awesome blessing of being loved by I AM.

Forgive, oh Lord, your oft ungrateful servant
Who would just as soon strike his fellow man
For crimes less grave than those I have committed
Against You, my gracious Master and loving King.

Your authority and grace bewilder your servant–
How they intermix and combine into Fatherly love.
Far beyond my comprehension are such things;
I can only ask for the wisdom to understand in time.

For Jack, a Blessing

May you increase in wisdom:
The gift of God to Solomon,
And the first gift I ask for you.

What are life and wealth,
What good fortune or fame,
If a man has not wisdom?

Seek wisdom above all these,
For a discerning heart and mind
Will be required to administer justice.

May you increase in stature:
A strong tower to those around you–
One to whom the helpless will run.

Let your physical strength be a sign
That you have the inward courage necessary
That a man must have to lead–and to be led.

For strength is truly known in weakness;
Your humility before God and the Church
Will show the world your true power.

May you increase in favor with God and man:
I pray that you will be a man among men,
That yours will be a life deserving of praise.

But let this not turn you aside from the path;
Do not create for yourself a calf of gold
Out of man’s approval or others’ desires.

Know what it is the Lord requires of you;
Act justly, my son, and love mercy;
Above all, walk humbly with our God.

May God give you all these and more,
May He make straight your life’s path,
And may you follow wherever He leads.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

Doxology

How do we praise God
Through Whom all blessings flow
When the flow has slowed to a trickle?

How can the praise of the Lord be always on my lips
If–though my cup overflows–
My lips remain dry and chapped?

Praise Him all ye creatures here
Far, far below in stature and in understanding
Who have no standing to judge the Sovereign will.

And in all things, give thanks–
Even now when thankfulness is far from my mind
And I’m less worried about giving than receiving.

But ye also praise Him above, oh heavenly hosts.
Is it easier for you than it is for me?
Are you privy to His will or does it affect you less?

Should I still make a joyful noise to the Lord
If I don’t have joy in my heart–
If I find it difficult to believe my own words?

Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Holy Ghost
Who in perfect, harmonious relationship
Govern all blessings and curses on creation.

Am I not also called to weep with those who weep?
Lord, lead me as I attempt to understand
How it is possible to marry grief with praise.

Amen.
Amen.
Amen.
Amen.

My God Transcendent

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…”
What a verse!
What a phrase!
Do you not yet understand?

The I AM–the One who could not be defined but by Himself–
God the Creator,
God the Redeemer,
Gives audience to created man–

The One who told the oceans thus far and no farther,
Star-sower,
Wind-gatherer,
He who commands the morning.

In highest majesty and power, He reigns in the Heavens,
Earth His footstool,
Holy is His throne,
And the trains of His robe fill the Temple!

But what King lowers Himself to His peasants’ livelihoods–
To walk with them,
Claim them as His own,
And be claimed by them in return?

What King sends His only Son to be the Savior of His people–
To heal them,
To bring them hope,
To buy their redemption with His own blood?

He who owes no man and to Whom all are beholden promised:
I will be your God,
You will be My people,
And I will make My dwelling among you.

The God of all wonders deigns to come and seek us
To be our Shepherd,
To be Abba, Father,
To claim us as His chosen people.

The God transcendent, infinitely glorious, and omnipotent:
Around all,
Above all,
And yet I may call Him “mine”.

Nails

Willfully, obstinately, disobediently did I behave:
As a scornful servant or traitorous son.
I, an Edmund unto myself, sought my own delight,
And, unwilling to deny appetite, denied greater things.

Loving and loved–love found without seeking
Arrived unannounced, but suddenly.
Whirlwind passions swept through in torrents
Of romance, of tenderness, of devotion.

But, oh, to what end! Unforeseen and unimaginable:
I, the betrayed, struck by disgust and pain,
Even while the stripes left on my skin
Became reminders of my own betrayal.

The nails that tore my back and arms
Left scars and stained my body,
Yet the nails driven into Another
Graciously cleansed me of all my sin.

Conversing With God

I recently had a very long talk with God. We covered every topic I could think of: careers, family, friends, past, present, future, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, grace, love. We spoke for over two hours, without outside interruption, without holding anything back–not that one could–and everything was laid bare. I did not leave the conversation with some great new knowledge of my future or a new understanding of the workings of His grace and mercy. But I did leave comforted–content to know that every single thing we spoke of was in His hands.

Very often, I neglect this opportunity–to commune with our Father. I neglect it because I don’t always see the immediate benefit. I know that if I spend my time reading, I’ll gain knowledge. I know that if I spend my time working out and eating right, I’ll be healthier and look better. I know that if I stay up late talking with a friend, I’ll discover many new wonderful things about them. These are good things, and I want to do them. But then sometimes I look at prayer and say, you know, I could do something else instead.

Actually, my prayer life has been improving in recent years; I think it’s been my area of biggest spiritual growth. I often speak with God for short periods of time throughout the day. I thank Him for a blessing I see that He’s given to me or to the world. I pray for help in times of struggle for myself and for friends and strangers. I pray after committing a sin, asking His forgiveness and for His help the next time I’m tempted to do wrong. But I still do not often spend long periods of time with Him. I admit that it’s hard for me to set aside fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes to just spend with God.

I am not trying to say that long prayers are better than short prayers, and that if I could be a better Christian by praying for two hours every day. I am also not trying to say that I–or all Christians–have to schedule a lengthy amount of time every day for prayer. But I have recognized the benefits of spending that long period of time alone with God. And if I cannot do that every day, I at least want to do it more often. I just need to be conscious of it, and to be willing to say, I haven’t had a significant time of prayer recently, make time for it, then do it.

I also think this will help keep my view of God in my life in the proper perspective. The more time I spend with Him, the more I remember how weak I am and how strong and able He is. I remember who I am because He reminds me who He is. Maybe all great and precious things are lonely because they think they have to do everything through their own power. Spending more time with God will remind me I can be great because He is great and that I am precious because I am precious to Him.