Might sins which seem so far removed from us
Be those which pose the greatest hidden threat?
Temptations that we never much discuss
May be o’erlooked, which leads us to forget
To strengthen our defenses ‘gainst the foes.
Imagining that we, somehow exempt
From diff’rent dangers, will not face such woes,
We look on those who struggle with contempt.
In truth, we are no better off than they,
For we all wrestle with the fallen state.
We all would perish if not for the Way.
We all need God to make our pathways straight.
So guard your heart with all humility,
Or else risk falling to futility.
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 Artsy Vibes on Unsplash)
As history has been unfurled,
One question ‘gainst the church has stood:
From whence came evil to this world
If God created all things good?
We grant some evil works for gain,
Some purpose may be found therein;
Yet is there not much needless pain,
Much suffering because of sin?
Could God not keep his world from death,
Or – bitter thought – might he desire
To curse those he hath filled with breath,
To see them sinking in the mire?
Or might it be that he allows
His people to rebel, to stray,
That they may truly then avow
His lordship, then may truly pray?
And could it be that majesty
Did not abandon to decay
Damned souls, but there upon the tree
Engaged in full the sinner’s fray?
Christ bore the wrath of God in place
Of those who chose the path to hell
That they might turn to seek the face
Of love, to taste the one true well.
God’s justice cometh like a flame,
And evil will not stand the show.
I may not know from whence it came,
But well I know where it will go.
(Photo cred: Mitchell Martin – Instagram: @mitchellrmartin )
Within this world of fiction,
I yearn for heaven’s diction
To deepen my conviction.
I feel the present friction
From our great self-infliction,
And long for sin’s eviction.
Though strong the serpent’s striction,
He faces grave restriction
In all of his affliction.
For Christ, the great nonfiction,
God’s visible depiction,
Fulfilled the Word’s prediction.
I see my lack of holiness
When I observe my heart.
It shows a certain homeliness:
Tis stained in ev’ry part.
I long to live in purity,
Yet clearly not enough;
For sin remains a surety.
Temptation calls my bluff.
Thus I take up these robes of white;
I drag them through the dirt.
I pledged my life to perfect light,
Yet still pursue my hurt.
Oh pardon me this parody,
This purposeless pursuit.
Enable me to fully be
A son who bears good fruit.
May all who hear my story find
Your mark of perfect love,
And use me, Father, to remind
Them of your land above.
The gospel is the poetry of truth,
For in it love and beauty condescend
From heav’n above to take the form of youth:
A righteous life to cover those who sinned.
Redemption’s plan was fixed before the fall.
The father, through his prophets, has foretold
The coming of the king who sounds the call
To all who under sin and death are sold.
Twas at the proper time and proper place
The son himself engaged man’s greatest foe,
And by his death the dead were made alive.
Alive again, the word of love and grace
Inaugurates his kingdom here below,
And all who know him evermore shall thrive.
Stained with sin but for your grace, I
Long to look upon your face. Thy
Never-failing word commands my
Failing heart to focus. Faith is
Crying, “Father, stoke us. Take this
Weakened will in your hands.” Of his
Life and death and life again, I
Sing, a breath midst strife and sin. Thy
Son resplendent understands my
War with this temptation. Such is
Life till death’s cessation. In this
Hope my salvaged soul stands, all his.
Do we then dare to look within
These hearts inhabited by sin
That we, by looking well, might win
Our lives from this dark gamble?
Or is the truth too much to take
For all the ways it makes us shake
When bones and promises do break
And lives are seen in shambles?
For when we peer behind the screen,
And our reality is seen,
We cannot claim that we are clean
But must confess conviction.
We spurned the fountainhead above
And killed the son who came in love.
Our hands still bear his blood like gloves.
Our innocence is fiction.
We dare not let ourselves believe
That we could e’er our sins retrieve.
Christ’s righteousness we must receive
If we would walk in freedom.
So take no chances with this life
By gambling yours ‘gainst certain strife.
Embrace the Word, the surgeon’s knife,
And leave the liar’s kingdom.
The Tempter set before the man a game.
“Three tries to name your greatest enemy.
If you succeed, this lion will be tame,
But if you fail, you never will be free.”
The man thought for a moment then agreed.
“You are a devil, sir, and most unwise,
So I will take advantage and be freed.”
From lips which grinned, the devil said, “Two tries.”
Taken aback, the man said, “Satan, then.”
And Satan, snickering, said, “Last attempt.”
“Then Lucifer I name thee, lord of sin!”
“Then you, sir, from sin’s rule are not exempt.”
This captive man will have to face God’s thresh
Unless he will perceive his guilty flesh.
A boy who died when I was just a boy
Has haunted me up to this very day.
His ghost I fear I never will destroy;
His face I fear will never fade away.
With breathless voice, he whispers in my ear.
With sightless eyes, he stares into my soul.
With ev’ry step I take, I see him sneer
With devilish desire to take control.
But victory for him would mean my doom,
For he would see me suffering in hell.
Though safe am I by truth of empty tomb,
The specter whispers still, “All is not well.”
I am until my final breath a host
Ever departing from him, my own ghost.