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.

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To Serve His House

I yearn for His presence,
Yet I shy from His duties.

I wish to cast off my burdens,
as I add daily to my shackles.

I do what I ought not,
And do not what I ought.

I fear to rest or relax,
For when my guard is laxed —
Sins come in hordes,
Till all left is to mourn.

I am hateful to myself,
A stranger in my own skin.

A sojourner in a cursed body,
A wretched soul in a blameless corpse.

I cannot shoulder the blame,
to a body which cannot think.

I am responsible, I alone;
But my sins too great to atone.

Christ is all I have, pauperish me;
Can you not see it, that He came for thee?

Too great a miracle, sayest thou?
Otherwise to save thyself how?

Canst thou not see it?
The miracle stands before you.

God’s grace is unearned,
God’s grace is infinite,
God’s grace knows no limits of man.

You are forgiven by His blood!
It is not your power not to sin, but His!
Let His will flow through your veins!
To be ever more sin’s eternal bane!

Letters to my Son: Letter I

Dear Son,

Son, I’m writing this to you because I love you. I don’t know you yet, but I hope that when we meet, I will be a man you can happily call Dad.

But until we meet, there’s a lot that I have to do. I’m not your father yet. I’m a rotten man, a hypocrite, a rebel and a stubborn goat who will hear the truth preached to him all the day long and still not heed the words of wisdom. I’m unworthy in every way to be your father, and it frightens me that I might never become that man.

Or it would, if I did not have a better Father of my own. He’s not the man whose funny crooked teeth or thick hair I inherited, but He has been as much of and far more of a father than the one who conceived me.

To point, I want to be a good father to you. My father provided for me, but there’s quite a few lessons and points of guidance which he never gave to me, but which God graciously provided to me by His providence when I needed it, and even now He continues to lead me for His namesake – and I fully expect that when I see you, He will still be guiding us, me and you both. He is your Father too, and He knows you better than I ever will, for He made you with His hands, and breathed life into you in your mother’s womb.

I’m a writer, my son. That means that when God gives me good thoughts and words, I write them down. Right now, in my youth, it doesn’t seem like there’s much else that I’m good for, so it’s what I do whenever I’m not earning my wages. And that is one of the tough truths that we have to wrestle with under God. There are things we want to do, things we would want to spend all our days doing nothing but, and yet we cannot. Writing is not profitable. It is risky even to try to make a subsistence living as a writer, because unlike a standard 9 to 5 job, there’s no benefits package and no overtime pay. You live off of royalties, advances, and ad-revenue, depending on what you write. You have to practice for years just to get into the craft, and then once you’re in, you can never stop practicing.

And right now son, I’m afraid. I’m ashamed. I’m not brave enough to risk it all to get my dream career. I’m afraid of shaming myself in the eyes of those who love me by forsaking conventional labors for my writing. I’m afraid that I am just indulging laziness by wishing for this. I’m afraid that I would be acting in pride to gratify the desires of my flesh, and forsaking the God who has delivered me from my sins many and myriad. I’m ashamed already at the ungodly desires of my heart, the unrighteous intentions of my flesh, of my weakness in entertaining these traitorous thoughts.

Son, there will be a great many people in your life who will tell you to ‘pursue your dreams.’ They will tell you life is an open book, that the possibilities are limitless, that the world is your oyster.

They are lying to you. The world is not an oyster, it is a barren field. There is much possibility in it, but to extract from the bitter soil your dreams will require of you undying toil, remarkable luck, and toil again until your very bones wear out. To fulfill all your earthly desires by your own hands will consume you like a flame until you come to the end of your road and wonder what you gave up your life for.

Do not desire the things of this world. Even good and glorious things like fame, like doing something you love for a living, these things should not be your heart’s desire. Your desire must be in the Lord, or you will die unsatisfied. I know, because I chased these things and even baser desires for too long in my life, ignoring the appeals God made so gently upon my heart.

Please, my Son – do not be like me. I am not proud of my writing. I am good at it, and I know I was unarguably better at it than many of my peers in school. And there is some joy when I write well, a finely put together sentence, a good day which brought forth more words than usual. And if you become a writer like me, my son, by no means do I discourage you.

But if you are a writer, I want you to do one of two things. If you want to write because you want your name on book covers, because you enjoy it, because you’re good at it – don’t quit your day job. Secure your living first, and indulge your passion when the sun sets. Please, think hard before you give your life to art.

Did I say two things?

My son, no matter how much I want to give you that dream, of being able to do nothing but write for a living – I can’t offer it to you now. I don’t have that dream. I wonder if I even have the self-discipline to manage it if I wasn’t so hemmed in by shame.

God loves you. And if God wills it, it will happen. But when you pray to our Father, you cannot have doubt. You must know what you want, want it truly, want it for the right reasons (read: the glory of God’s Kingdom, the salvation of the unredeemed, and the deliverance of His people), and be faithful that God can do all things.

The Lord knows no doubt. He knows no fear, none of the vacillation that you see in this letter. He is not afraid of being shamed, He is not afraid for His reputation or his 401K or His marriage prospects. He is our bold and fearless King, who humbles all the wicked and proud of this world and heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and shelters the weary. It is our good and gracious God who liberated me from the lusts which consumed my whole being, our kind and merciful God who spared my grandparents from rapacious invaders and conveyed them safely to America, our holy and generous God who gave to me the woman who will be your mother, blessing me a million times in excess of that which I deserve – including by giving me you to rear and teach.

All the gifts you will enjoy, from your food, to your shelter, to your parents (hi there) to the nature present as it may be, to every single talent and ability of your body and mind – all these come from God, and they are purposed for His glory – that all should hear His Word, call upon His name, and be rescued from their evil. As our God smites the wicked so He also redeems them, saving awful sinners like me, who did only evil in His sight with no regard for good.

Our God – and I hope your God – is a delightful savior, who makes my heart sing with joy as I write this very line. For I know that a day will come when these worries will trouble me no more, when I will finally find rest when all I have known is toil. I love my God because He is good, because He first loved me when I was unlovable, and never expected a single thing in return but that I would believe in Him and look to Him as Father. And even these things are gifts from Him, to be given back to Him with loving shouts of praise.

I love you, son. I will write to you again soon. Please take to heart all that I have said, and treasure the wisdom I struggle to pass on to you.

May the peace of God be with you, offspring of mine.

Sincerely,

Dad.

The Life of Weariness

You’re born.

You take your first breath. It’s the hardest thing you’ve done in your life to date, but there will be harder hills still.

You drink from your mother’s breast. In every way she cares for you. Her words slowly sink into your mind with your father’s when he’s home, and gradually, those words shape you – or do you fashion those words around yourself?

You grow up. Now gifted with a voice to name the brilliant spectrum of life which around you winds, it blasts by in an instant, as the autumn leaves before winter’s gales, which in their own turn die down before the chirping growth of spring, which bakes beneath the coming of summer at its own conclusion before once again the ripeness of the months of warmth crackle and age into those same, hoary colors of fall.

Now you’re an adult. Adolescences was a speedbump, a maelstrom of emotions and dramas which, on reflection as one now so matured by the seemingly purely biological processes of pubescence – seem irrelevant. Petty. Insipid. Meaningless.

Or perhaps they are your golden years? A fond time of fun, games, loose clothes and looser morals, to treasure in your heart as time slowly makes his inroads into your chest?

You study. You work. Whether they benefit you or not is entirely in your hands. Perhaps for a while you’re content merely to sustain yourself. It’s possible that a another human of an opposite form decides to cast his or her lot in with you, and you get married, have two and a half children – and now your life belongs to them. Or maybe you don’t. Perhaps you chase your loves as you did in youth, though the game gets surely harder as time crinkles your skin and mars your complexion, and the yearly flu lasts longer and longer each time it visits. It’s unlikely, but perhaps you abstain entirely. For what reason do you do this?

And perhaps on some dark, lonely night, long after those of your hearth and kin have fallen asleep, you sit up in bed, in the gloomy, silent house, and you wonder – why? For what do I work?

To play a little on the weekends? To keep this aging woman in my house? To raise up little ones after me to go through the same toils? To what end does Man labor?

For vanity.

For though you might have striven with great boldness and cunning, with even the noblest of hearts, to build up a palace for your kin and a throne in your place of work, when Sheol calls you into his embrace, to another you must hand your preciously crafted treasures. In time, your treasures will fade and depreciate, till all of your hoard which your children hold in their hands are crumbs of dust as they go out into the broken shell of a world to carve from the dust their daily bread, for who will feed them?

It is vanity.

For if the glory goes not to one who is eternal, the greatest that can be made of it is a footnote in a dust-gathering chronicle. The glories of the warrior-kings echo down the ages, reflecting off the hardened and bored ears of the teenagers subjected to a dully rendered retelling of the greatest struggles of men’s lives. The hardships endured by women and families – through siege, plague, famine, despair – all ring hollow in an age where bread is plenty, and yet the spirit starves for rest.

Ours is the life of weariness. Convenience cannot save the soul.

And so challenged in your heart of hears, what shall you do? Shall you strive to play it safe, extend your years until you can beat the game, and create something great to truly last down the ages? Shall you ignore the murmurs of your starving soul, and let your fleshly heart and all its lusty dukes rule your life while you eke out an existence of blissful subsistence?

Or would you cast all you had into fire, limbs and all to find that which will not only save you the ignominy of a meaningless, unremarkable existence among the seething mass of profane humanity from which all of us come – but secure you a place of joy and glory everlasting at the table of your Judge, Father, and Savior?

The price?

All glory be to Him who saves, for whose glory mercy was shown to the undeserving who would dare to slay his blameless messenger, the image of perfectified Man.

Humility before God. That is the price.

A Guilty Mind

And here he sat, comprehending his own villainy, the muck and murk of human myopia and his fleshly urges to short-lived pleasures, all but castrating himself over his indescribable badness, refusing to qualify the foulness of his sin against such terrors as the kings of history and prehistory when suddenly the page spoke and said:

“Then confess if you’re so guilty. But keeping it all to yourself like this, obviously you don’t feel that bad about it.”

“Evil exists to be forgotten. When all men are dead, the good men will have gone on and left the evil ones behind in the place of no names.”

And while you might disagree, someone infinitely more important than you has decided you’re an alright sort of bloke. Without opening the door on unbridled hedonism, know that it really doesn’t matter.”

“You recognize the wrongness of it. Disassemble the transgression, examine and multiply its parts. Realize the brute pleasures come of someone else’s expense, virtual or real. And thereby brand it as the valueless thing that it is.”

“Move on. Giving up is only proving one thing.”

 

You can be a good Christian.

He’s already forgiven you.

So forgive yourself.