In Flanders Fields

This comes late for 7/28, though the poem itself likely explains why. Let this be of health to those who have been wandering astray, as I have been. For those otherwise confident in their deeds, let this sober us to the value and purpose of our lives.


Lord, I kneel before Thy throne,
Judgment seat and scales’ rest,
To present myself, and beg Thy mercy.

Lord, why when was I born,
In comfort to dwell,
In leisure to ‘cline,
No sergeant in sight,
Bellyful of fat and fancy,
Rather of lead and iron.

Lord of Hosts and Laughter,
Why was I these gifts
Unfairly given,
‘Llowed to live my life
As a son of delinquence?

Marshal of Heaven,
Answer my piteous self,
For so many died
In the storm of steel,
Beneath shell and hail,
In mud and blood
to make of themselves
A feast for rats and worms.

And here I sit at ease,
All pleasure and leisure
No more than a finger away;
What men died for others to steal,
I have free to excess.
What right have I to luxury?
What right have I to pleasure?
What right have I to disobey?

How can I live for pleasure
While they rest in Flanders’ fields?

My Lord, Commander, and Judge,
Redeem me:
Redeem my time, redeem my flesh,
The hours I’ve squandered,
The life I’ve wasted;
The dreams undreamt,
The prayers unprayed;
Let me remember why poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields,
And why flowers bloom,
On Golgotha’s Hill.


For those, like me, who missed the significance of the intended original date of this post, 7/28 marks the beginning of the First World War. I will not comment here on the Great War’s significance in the course of history, though it marks the beginning of the end for the West. That is a subject for an essay (likely several) and another time.

My wish is that this poem, rambling as it is, would help us reflect on the conduct of our lives. Those of you who follow our risen Christ, I would ask your prayers for a stranger, that my deeds would echo the words I have written here, and my life would follow the Word He brought for us.

 

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No Father Better

You are gracious beyond measure

Patient for eons beyond counting

Your love is faithfully ever-sure

Your will ever onward marching

Though every man a liar be

Faithful is timeless He

Ever tender, ever warm

Even to me, a lowly worm.

 

No father better to be had,

Than He who will dress the wounds

Of the ones who drove the nails;

Who loved His children onto a tree,

Where He hanged that they might live,

And rose again to take them Home.

 

Father, I want to go home.

 

Rest in Peace

How glorious that final age will be,
when all our striving shall cease,
when all His saints shall rest in peace.

How wonderful that final sigh shall be,
when we look upon warless days,
and our rumoring past falls away.

How majestic that day shall be,
When we look upon the glory of the King,
Crowned at freedom’s bells’ ring.

How happy I shall be to sleep,
Time no longer my enemy,
But my friend for all eternity.

Hasten o’God, Lord of my heart;
Bring fast Your dawn of peace!
Let me labor no longer on trifles and scrum,
Let me be nevermore anxious to do and done,
But be content that It Is Done.

Thoughts on the Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

I’ve had a bit of a rough week, my troubles largely self-inflicted. I won’t go into any graphic detail, but I should think that the above quote is sufficiently informative.

I’m sure we’ve all heard countless times various -isms to the effect of “trust your heart” or “trust your conscience.” I am leaning ever more towards the opinion that these truisms are nothing but ignorant half-truths at best and vain delusions at worst – at least so far as applied to myself.

The heart is fickle and indecisive; it wants one thing but rarely clarifies how you are to go about obtaining it. It is insistent and petulant in its primitive desires, unreasoning in its persistent demands for lustful gratification, constant amusement, and transcendental bliss. The heart is not a being of reason, of contentment, nor of faithfulness, but a beast of wretched selfishness.

God is true when we are false. Those of you who in His Son already profess salvation – be wary of trusting your own hearts, how you feel before God, how you feel about your actions. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21). When our hearts are not firmly fixed on God’s purpose and His holy commands, when we take first the counsel of our flesh before that of the Mighty Counselor, we are quick to turn astray into selfish vanities and foolish self-delusion.

In short – I deceived myself for almost a whole week that I could control my lust in the moment of self-gratification, against all wisdom and caution, and while God graciously has not punished me with stripes, I beg that He would, if only it would keep me from sinning against Him again. Instead, I must live with my conscience – I must fasten myself ever tighter to His forgiveness. By grace and grace alone are any saved at all. This last week is a reminder most sharp – my own efforts and plans shall never substitute for His blessing.

Lord, my God,
Watch my soul tonight.

El Shaddai, my Prince of Peace,
Guard my wayward steps.

For I am but a child,
A fool little better than an animal –

Yet one whom you have uplifted,
That he might dare to be a man.

Lord, give me strength, and give me grace,
That grace in which I undeservedly live,
That I might rejoice in obedience,
Not for one night but until my last.

 

And Yet…

Blessed be the artist,
For to him is given the dream of creation.

Whilst others scramble in mud,
He may dream that it is liquid silver.

While others scream over a bent fender,
He may imagine them in chivalric fashion,
A pair of armored sea lions at the tilt.

When a fish flies from the sea,
Trailing a shimmering blade of water,
He is blessed to see more than mere water;
To him is given sight to see and ears to hear
The music of all creation,
Played in between the patter of rain
The roar of the windy surf
In the booming voice of the thunder
In the scintillating fingers of lightning
Which split the sky like rivers of fire.

Blessed be the artist,
For God has opened the door
To the artists’ studio,
And given him brushes and paints,
Pens and inks and eyes to see
The beauty which lie beneath the substance.

Beauty is only skin deep,
Unless you have the eyes of God.

Marvel you artists! Marvel all,
At God’s glorious artistry!
Every gleaming drop of water,
Every flowing electron,
Every quivering proton,
Every gallant sunbeam,
Every furious thunderclap,
Howling wind, rattling rain
Roaring fire and trembling Earth
Pounding hooves and beating wings
The choir of the crickets
The harmony of human voice
And dove’s purring warble and
Ten thousand thousand songs and sights,
Made by the greatest artist of all!

The only artist whose sculptures breathe.

Cursed the Artist

Cursed is the artist,
Who ever must bear witness
To the ever distant horizon
Whose eye alone can see
Shores beyond sight
Beyond existence.

Cursed is he who must see
The shimmering crystal waters
Of a lake of ruby and gold
Guarded by a giant of iron and stone;
Imprisoned within, a maid of diamond.

For he sees another who goes
A knight of bronze and fire,
Another one forever uncreated,
Another song unsung,
Another shore unseen.
A warrior who lives only in dreams.

And though his throat parch
Thinking of those effervescent waters
He must away to a land of mud and dust
To the world where phones jingle
And engines roar, and talking puppets
Talk about the newest fashions
Of dressing cats and dogs.

Cursed is he who dreams of knighthood,
For there are no more giants
Nor maiden royalty,
And to him falls the duty
To gaze longingly at the shores of creation,
Never knowing the dreams which haunt his living.

Overtake

I’m tired of my condition.
Always inattentive.
Driven to stray.
Made to fail.

The inferior man.
No excuses.
No escape.

Every mistake.
Every heartache.
My life they take.
My soul, forsake.

I don’t know where to go.
I am lost, Elohim.

Please.
Help.
Me.

I feel you, o Father of Love.
I hear you, o Spirit of Justice.
I see you, o Savior of Souls.

May the cracks in my skin
Shine with the light of Your Law.
That I and all my earthly kin
May kneel in awe.

Every mistake.
Every heartache.
My body breaks,
That Your Glory may Overtake.