Is it not a wonder
Of spectacular splendor
So long awaited, the grand awakening
A new day dawning
The night of lonely seasons tread
Never more to dread
Love has come!
How does the heart
So long drenched in the mire of hurt
That tread in yesterdays past
Over valleys flooded with shattered dreams vast
And ever more exclaim
Love has come!
And so the song is sung
From lips that once hung
In sorrow’s loud silence
While brokenness seemingly triumphed in defiance
But alas! Now victory hails
The truth chorales from Calvary’s Cross of nails
Love has come!
Soul to Soul
Pole to Pole
The Wisest Man’s words rhythm and rhyme
“I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine”
Living streams from God to man flow
Man to man salvation’s flame lights aglow
Love has come!
“God is love” (1 John 4:8)
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3: 16-17)
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
I am from the hood where friends are like brothers and brothers like parents. A family, one would say, but it doesn’t always seem apparent how exactly we’re all related.
In the midst of common struggles, beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes we are one. In the midst of different shapes and shades of colors; although raised with complex paradigms, challenges and norms, together we commune. We are Hood. For even when one is wronged, when one’s rights are obliterated and one’s fate is but left hanging by the thread that weaves our lives together we remember that we are not just together, we are the same. We are one. We are Hood.
When our leaders forsake the fellowship of the righteous. When our families become the hiding place of wheat and tare alike; when our sisters play harlots and our brothers are but wretched, grown enough to care for themselves, greedy enough to only care for themselves; when the tags on our backs identify us as insanely ludicrous, uneducated and perpetrators of a moral dilemma; when they see our faces and fail to acknowledge our minds; when they step inside our jurisdictions to rewrite the laws of our community; we remain steady in our hope that our true identity and our worth lies not in who we make ourselves to be but in who we are made to be. See, we are Hood.
Even though outsiders ridicule the way we walk, the hopes we talk, and think they understand our presuppositions, we — and we alone — know the struggles we’ve seen. Only we know how far our East is from our West; how long ago our past is past. And one day at a time our anonymous lives get acquainted with the road less traveled. We follow in the footsteps of uneducated and ludicrous guides who set the record before us. For we wrestle not against men nor men’s demands. We stay strong together and gather strength from the Hood. Our brotherhood. We are church-hood.
The nations we have known. The places we have roamed.
Their gods are not like ours. Their strength is our desire.
We'd adore to be them.
We'd trade soils to be there.
So we need for us a king to fight our battles,
to raise our pride. And we need for us a king
to be our face, to lead our faith.
One God our hearts have known. In one faith our souls have grown.
The world has seen His power. The strong have fallen sour.
But we have longed to be them.
We'd adore to be theirs.
Yet we shall have for us a king to fight our battles,
to raise our pride. And we shall have for us a king
to be our face, to be our faith.
God's ears have heard it all. His compassion binds you all.
His dreams are not your own. His visions past your soul.
He would love to be yours.
Give you peace for your soul.
So God shall have for Him a King to heal your shame,
to cure your pain. And you shall have in Him a King
to hold your hand, to abide in faith.
You are too smart to be deceived and too educated to believe. Your brain is too sharp to fiddle with the things of faith and your vision too bright to be darkened by the clouds of what you call religious uncertainties.
Your story is too painful to give God, or any god, any credit. Your path is too rocky for your wagon to carry the extra load of etherial expectations.
Your eyes have witnessed the pain and your heart experienced the hurt. You, if anyone, know what it means to have your own little world shattered by the same hopes you wish would build you up.
Your mouth has tasted that which was sweet in your tongue but sour in your stomach. Your body has been forced to digest the unsavory mix of ashes and shame. You know too well what it means to be left for dead by the ones in whose hands you helplessly were entrusted with your life.
You know what it means to pant for someone and helplessly watch them bleed their hearts out and pray to The Lord, some lord, who knows what's best. "What's best?" You say, "What's best is for the unrealistic and unfounded asynchronies of prayer to be put to shame and the minds of the many religious captives to be freed at last." But not so fast...
I too have tasted the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have suffered, bled, and seen the bruises of many. I too had my heart torn apart by the knowledge that prayer spared not a prayerful mother her dying child.
And you, I thought you thought it was unfair to give others advantage. But why sound so hurt when the God you once professed to believe in does not seem to profit you more than the average Joe.
You truly believe in your mind that you should be free to choose, but God, a god, should be bound to your expectations and desires.
You so badly want justice to be poured down on your enemies, who happen to be more than your numbers can count. But you too are numbered with the transgressors and counted amongst someone else's band of enemies. So, what next?
Next, you start excusing yourself for the minor injustices you've committed. First you didn't know. Second you didn't want to know. Third, you most likely have stopped counting already because God does not exist. And I should not be bound to His moral dogmas. I'll just live my life in open rebellion to Him as if He actually did exist and were looking down on me.
You don't pray, but when you hear the sound of a plea you raise your voice up high and talk to the same God you don't believe in and make sure you tell Him exactly as it is. But He doesn't hear you, or does He?
You are even more confused since you started spitting on His face, because His face certainly should look dimmer now that you've stopped staring at the image you had of Him, yet He seems far more real in your hurt than He ever was in your faith...
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
There they stand tall, majestic, confident. Resolutely, they defiantly reject what physical evidence demands they do, cower in silence as dead trees should and succumb to the raging storms, howling winds and burdens of snow.
Yet with arms lifted up exuberantly, they shout in silence what they KNOW themselves to be. They are TREES! They have purpose that goes beyond physical appearance and receive sustenance extrinsic themselves. Hear their palpable joy in laughter at the shortcomings of clouded myopic vision that looks upon them with scorn. You see what those eyes cannot deny is that:
The raging storms have served to prove their dominant strength.
The howling winds in striping them bare have exposed their resilience.
The burdens of snow have so beautified them to post card worthy status.
In wonder of wonders, winter has conferred upon them the title of teacher. Faithfully from ages past they have continued to give the object lesson …winter’s barrenness is but for a season.
Triumphantly they display the lesson that faith without works is indeed dead as they keep their branches raised in dramatic exultation to their Creator because the truth remains, winter is but for a season! Even more steadfast in assurance is who their Creator is. He is faithful, He is true, a rewarder of those who wait upon Him, it is He who makes streams flow in the desert places to bring nourishment to dry parched places. He causes to spring forth to regenerate life that, which for a time and season, was despised as dead.
These leafless trees refuse to envy their counterparts the Evergreen. By their very proximity to the Evergreen they seem to have learned the experiential meaning of rejoicing with the rejoicing Evergreen that seemingly never encounters the tragic of loss of leaf. In apparent recognition of the immense honor bestowed to them through their testimony of endurance in the harsh seasons of life, those that strip them bare and naked and parade their weakness to a world that shuns all things seemingly dead and barren, they inspire the diligent eye to discern the truth that their proximity to the evergreen is purposeful. Rather than wallow in the bottomless pit of self-pity, wither and die, these trees purpose instead to reveal just who their who their Maker is, for indeed, God is LOVE!
So in perfect love all fear of being annihilated by winter have been banished. In its place, fruit of kindness blooms as their bare branches give rest to the singing birds and sturdiness to their nests. Rejecting envy, they refuse to compare and compete with the Evergreen but unitedly lift up their branches in praise. While they may find joy in never shedding their leaves as the Evergreen, they seek not after their own, their sole desire is to display to the world the faithful evidences purposed by their perfect Designer. No record of the wrongs brought about by the harshness of winter is found neither in Spring, Summer or Fall. Day after day in the winter months, they keep steadfast in faith that winter is but one of four seasons, yearning in hope for Spring, but always because their Originator is LOVE they endure!......Now abide faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Beloved, the season of winter will not last forever. Learn from the trees. Ask our Heavenly Father to impart to you the grace to bloom and blossom wherever you are planted. Whether winter, spring, summer or fall, you just may be the only tree another has in their garden so purpose to live, teach and give witness to the faithfulness of our God and the wonderful fruit of His Holy Spirit, no matter the season!
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord for our God inhabits the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4)
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“Nature and revelation alike testify of God's love” (Steps to Christ, EGW Page 9)
Every day I wake up wanting to be more than I was the day before. Every morning as I get to stare at the mirror I wonder how I made it thus far and question the journey ahead, "How long? How far?"
How long til the journey gives way to its destination? How long til these memories bear no further condemnation?
How far away is the place of contentment where I can be all that I was made to be? They say the hope is for a light at the end of the tunnel, but tunnel-vision is itself the reason I ended up losing sight of what's ahead.
Every night I question my daily motives and stare at the blank pages of my journal as I try to decipher the inner workings of my mind. Every night, as I reluctantly make my way to bed bearing the weight of my lack of glory I question my sanity and why my promises so easily flow like sand through the cracks from my hands.
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Every day is a struggle of it's own. A metaphorical encounter with the sword that divides between the mind and the soul. No stone is left unmoved. No intent unexposed. Nothing can be hid from view when the truth-seeking eyes of The Divine Enquirer fix their gaze upon me.
Justice. Recompense. Merit. These are good, but I could use some of their opposite. Because justice will incarcerate me. Recompense will demand that I be slain. And there's no merit at all left in me through which I could be saved.
Every day, however, I must also be reminded of the mystery of Christ's redeeming grace. The one that questions where my accusers have gone and bids me go and sin no more. For if only I accepted His invitation. If only I to Him surrendered my inclinations. If only I truly believed His affirmation, then would I have known Him and learned to live through the power of His life and glorious resurrection.
Every day is a testament to Christ's words:
Those who save their lives will surely lose it.
But those who lose it for God's sake will have just saved themselves from ever again losing it.
Now I lift up my head and fix my eyes up high.
May the new day draw near. I now know that I have no need to fear...
Through the confusion of fury,
through the drama of theory,
through philosophies and excuses,
through blame and angst,
through reasons and seasons,
though an unrelenting self,
through vanity and envy,
revenge no glimmer of recompense,
through neglect and loathing,
through voluntary blindness,
through deception desired,
through words of praise amidst a maze of expectations:
Hollow the sounds,
hollow the heart,
hollow the road
so eagerly trodden,
hollow the strife,
hollow the end.
Its dissonance ever so rife,
hollow the beginning,
of each desperate inning.
Yet through it all,
yet by it all,
yet despite and in spite,
yet above and beneath,
yet ahead and behind,
yet toward it all,
the skull, the cross.
Never a waiver,
never a quiver,
never a doubt,
never a regret,
never a rejection,
never an accuser
Arms ever opening,
eyes ever pleading,
bleeding healing hands,
heart to heart reaching,
steadfast and everlasting,
leaving one to wonder in wander,
why sit in the fruitless ashes of rebellion
when forgiveness and love stand a knocking at
the door with a gavel of grace in the hand of Jesus Christ?
Selfish desires and a proud heart. A world that revolves around my own shoelace.
A hand full of misconceptions mistaken for signs of truth. A mind misguided by its own frailty.
If only love was more willing to punish the deeds of man as they occurred…
If only justice was less merciful to my lack of integrity. If only our minds knew the extent of our evasive answers to life’s vital questions.
Proud mind. Stone-cold heart. Fierce preying eyes; cunning tongue. Deceitful devices. Yet one is happy to be called humane, and content with nothing but the mundane.
All comes to life at a price, so when the lady across the page asked: “What does one give up when one gives it all?” This mind quivered in desperation for great is the damnation of life as it is lived. Nothing to win when one chases the wind.
Vanity of vanities, the wise man said. And vanity is all my soul ever learned.
Reluctant to give up, to pleasures I give in. This soul born to run. This heart grown in sin.
But who to save me from the body of my damnation? Who to rescue me from my mind’s incarceration?
“Jesus!”, I hear you say. But I fear He left me before I could pray…
But I still plead for justice towards those who locked me here. Yet only mercy for my share in this fate.
“Double-standard” my accusers shout. Yet this mind never had any to live about. Yet, “Jesus!”, my heart pleads, “rescue me, lest I perish in my sins!”
Vanity of vanities. Lies and lives of anonymity. All to guard the mind from God with strong enmity.
Many broken-hearted. Others bruised to the core. Some stumble till they walk. Others crawl lest they stand no more. A need to be purged. A shout for help in the midst of desperation. A prayer for death before resurrection.
As for those who say we cannot be forgiven, why, then, was the gift of Jesus given? Surely not so that we may to sin be given. Though our minds are frail, and our eyesight fail; though the heart be deceitful and our emotions vain; there surely is redemption... but only in Jesus’ name.