Prodigal

Have you been wandering? Do you feel you’ve lost your way?
Does the night seem to overcome the brightness of the day?
Are you afraid that you’re too far gone yet still sinking deeper?
Does your mind sometimes fantasize about meeting the grim reaper?

Take heart, oh weary prodigal soul, I know that place.
And I also know that you are not a hopeless case.
You may have wandered and squandered all on your own,
But you need not now starve in the desert alone.

I don’t know what you’ve done or what’s been done to you,
But I do know that none of those things disqualify you.
No brokenness is beyond His ability to restore,
And where sin abounds, grace still abounds more!

While we were enemies, Christ died so we could be reconciled,
And the Father is not ashamed to call a prodigal His child.
He is running with arms to rescue and embrace,
To bestow on you a celebration of amazing grace!

How do I know that these words are true?
Well, I’ve been the running prodigal more times than a few.
Yet, He has been faithful to me through all my years,
And He has called me back, delivering me from all my fears.

I speak these words today because of His grace alone,
And I do not speak them by any strength of my own.
God is faithful, steadfast, patient, generous, and true;
And His grace is for people like me and like you.

Grace Upon Grace

Grace will meet you in the most unexpected ways,
And shine ever bright on even the darkest days.

Creative hands bestow it to fragile jars of clay,
In abundance each and every single day.

Sometimes it will take the form of a tightly closed door,
And other times an open one you weren’t looking for.

Sometimes it will take the form of difficult words,
And other times in the gentle ones often preferred.

Sometimes it will take the form of a rainbow after a storm is done stirring,
And other times it will be a peace that enters in during.

It is sufficient, even on the days we feel so weak,
And shines brightest on the days that seem so bleak.

Each little sign of His grace is also accompanied by a multitude more,
For He knows what we need when we don’t see or ask Him for.

The love of the Lord never ceases, nor do His mercies ever end,
Grace upon grace, so generously supplied we cannot comprehend!

What is Home?

What is home, but a cover from the weather,
A place where people can gather safely together,
A place where a table is set with today’s daily bread,
A place to nightly lay one’s head?

Surely there is more to ‘home’ than these physical necessities,
For there are other places to find such basic amenities.

What is home, then, but a refuge to run to,
A place of security when all is askew,
A place with peace and comfort confined inside,
A place where loved ones are at one’s side?

Still, these words describe only an idealized view,
And no place here fits that definition all the way through.

What is home, but a place to belong,
A place where we don’t need to pretend we are strong,
A place one knows and is known as well,
A place where the heart can openly dwell?

We’re getting closer, but even with all these answers combined,
There is something more to “home” left undefined!

Perhaps, when we feel most at home then, we are experiencing a preview,
Of something more than any place we have ever been to.
And maybe what we desire in our dwellings here is a reflection in the mirror,
While all our striving is an attempt to make the image clearer.

What if ‘home’ is not something we build but something drawing near?
Now the definition is growing increasingly clear!

For, no matter how secure we feel in what we call our abode,
We are still just sojourners out on the narrow road.
‘Home’ cannot be confined to words, time, or space,
But so I’ve learned, only in the arms of our Creator’s embrace!

We are strangers here, living in a foreign land,
Building tents for our days that He long ago planned.

What is home, but all the ways described before,
And more than we have ever imagined or hoped for?
Oh, how I long for it, though I’ve never seen it on my own!
What is home, where is home, who is home, but God alone?

The Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd and He knows my name,
And He spoke it to lead me out of my shame.
He found me when I was the sheep that had gone astray,
And brought me back to the flock where I now long to stay.

He is the good Shepherd, not merely a hired hand –
The one who cares so deeply, more than I can understand!
He laid down His life for me on His own accord,
And paid a ransom I could never afford.

Each day He leads me to green pastures full of provision,
Where life and restoration are freely and fully given.
There, I walk near streams of living water,
Not as a slave but as the Father’s daughter.

As I learn to recognize His voice, I learn more of His ways too,
And He guides me to do what is righteous and true.
Sometimes I try my own way but find His rod is there,
Not to harm but to keep me from a deadly snare.

Some days I also find myself in the valley for a duration,
But He leads me through it for it is not my final destination.
I have no need to fear, for even then He is near,
And though I cling to Him, He holds me more dear.

He invites me to a table where my enemies can clearly see,
That the one who is His will always His be.
They cannot prevail or snatch me from His hand,
For in His presence, they are too weak to even stand!

Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all my days,
And I will dwell with Him both now and always.
The Lord is my shepherd and He knows my name,
And because of that – I will never be the same.

God with Us

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
And man dwelled in the garden without façade.
But sin shattered communion like glass beyond repair,
And sorrow became our inherited share.

Yet even on that day when all was made broken,
A promise of hope was firmly spoken.
For Love would not abandon His creation,
And so, He planned a way for salvation.

His promise was passed down through prophets of old,
Yet in time, the hope of many grew cold.
It seemed as if God were no longer there,
And if He was, perhaps He didn’t care.

Yet when God seemed silent and far away,
He sent messengers into the world to pave the way.
Emmanuel was coming into our mess!
Light would shine again in the deep darkness.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among the broken,
Fulfilling what God Himself had long ago spoken.
But He came in what many deemed a pitiful sight,
Not robed in royal splendor nor with weapons to fight.

Indeed, He entered in one of the most vulnerable states!
For He came to draw near to those in desperate, dire straits.
Grief and affliction were His chosen lot.
And He carried our sorrows though we esteemed him not.

By His presence, grace was made known,
And by His blood, God’s mercy shown.
On Him, our transgressions and iniquity were laid,
So our insurmountable debt could be finally paid.

Communion was restored for all who would believe,
And a promise was given that He would not leave.
Emmanuel, God with us, to the age’s end!
Our Savior, brother, and truest friend.

Centuries have passed, yet His promise and presence remain,
And He is still with us through every sorrow and pain.
God has not left us nor will He go away,
Emmanuel who was is still Emmanuel today.

Simply Come

Simply Come |  "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

“Come to me” is the invitation spoken,
From the heart of Christ to all who are broken.
No test to pass, no need to clean up first,
Just come to Him, all you who hunger and thirst.

Come, taste, and see that He is good,
For He is now doing all He said He would.
Seek the Lord and take refuge in His loving embrace,
And live each day in the light of His redeeming grace.

His gifts of grace and mercy are abundant and true,
And I promise they are for people even like you.
No sin is too great, no burden is too heavy,
No person is too lost, and no life is too messy.

You may be a prodigal soul out on the roam,
But celebration still awaits when you come home.
You may be heavily laden and at the end of your rope,
But I promise you, friend, there is still blessed hope.

He knows your story, He knows your name.
He knows your sin, and He knows your shame.
He knows your struggles, He knows your pain,
And He knows how to break every kind of chain.

A bruised reed He shall not break,
Nor a smoldering wick will He forsake.
A broken and contrite heart He won’t turn away.
He is present now and He chooses to stay.

He is gentle and humble in heart,
Beckoning you to a daily fresh start.
I know it is sometimes hard to believe,
But this love is not earned, it is a gift to receive.

You can wrestle, you can be confused,
But His love will not be moved.
You can argue, you can hide in fear,
But even then, Hope remains near.

You may know a thousand reasons for condemnation,
But for those who come to Christ, there is salvation.
Those who come shall not be cast out from His sight,
But instead, be drawn nearer to live in His light.

So come, confess, and lay your burdens on the ground.
See, how His grace indeed does abound!
Unfailing Love is here to support and console,
So come and find rest, rest for your weary soul.

Tossed at Sea

Tossed by every problem, and every word with its tone,
Anxiety has set deeply into every single bone.
My stomach is seasick, my body is tense,
And my mind is jaded from all this violent turbulence

The waves of circumstance and others’ opinions rage,
And I find myself drowning in fear’s cruel cage.
I cannot hold my pride-fueled façade much longer.
For these waves are many and all of them stronger.

My energy is finite and fading fast,
By my own power alone I cannot last.
I cannot help but fear that I will perish in these waves,
To be buried alive among the watery graves.

Yet in this desperate predicament, I’m learning I’m not alone,
There is One who has been with me for longer than I’ve known.
He is the one who even the wind and waves obey,
Who came to me though I’ve tried to sail away.

To Him, the deep waters are thoroughly charted,
And He knew my life’s journey before it had started.
He is good and His love will never fail,
So here I am now, with a white flag as my sail.

In this storm, like every other, He chooses to stay,
He will not abandon, give up, or betray.
He leads me and helps me navigate the ocean by His grace,
And in time, I forget all about my attempts of saving face.

He sometimes even calls me walk on the waves that should swallow,
To do what I thought was impossible before I began to follow.
He calls me His daughter and tells me I am now free,
I no longer need bow to the whim of the fickle sea,

The sea around still seems so deep and vast,
But only when I take my eyes off of Him who is steadfast.
Storms will still rage and my mind will still sometimes tire,
But He is with me now, no matter what may transpire.

A peace I do not understand descends,
As I grow in the One on whom my soul depends.
Slowly, I know it will set deeply into every single bone,
I will not be tossed by every problem and word with its tone.

Remember to Rest

We rush, with fear-fueled precision and strife,
Trying to accomplish so much in this fleeting life.

We are Sisyphus under the cruel taskmaster of Pride,
Slaves of busyness, afraid of downward spiral and slide.

We pursue so much, and some of it is good,
And so strive for those things, indeed we should.

But so much of what we chase is mere glittering pyrite,
Empty of all substance and value though pleasing to our sight.

Like a thirsty body drinking salt water will never be satisfied,
A rushing soul will only find its troubles multiplied.

Doing it all is too heavy a burden to carry,
Letting go is hard but sometimes it is necessary.

Our resources are measured and our strength is finite,
We all have an end to our strength and our might.

But maybe that’s okay, maybe we don’t have to do it all,
And maybe there is freedom in not answering every call.

Even the fastest runner trained to run a race,
Cannot maintain a forever fast and steady pace.

Rest is necessary for both mortal shell and soul,
Neglect of it will, in time, take a deadly toll.

But, there is hope in acknowledging the need to rest,
When we look to Him and step away from our pride-fueled quest.

His yoke is easy, His burden is light,
Not because of its contents but because of His might.

We are not alone, nor can we do everything on our own.
But we are fully loved despite our weakness being fully known.

A runner at rest is still a runner indeed,
And so, we are cherished even when we lower our speed.

In Him, we can rest and trust that His grace is beyond all measure,
And when we work, work for things greater than fake or fading treasure.

A Known Enigma

A Known Enigma

I am an enigma, a mystery
What I say is not necessarily what I am thinking.
And what I do doesn’t necessarily represent my motivation.

I am a thousand piece puzzle,
With less than a thousand pieces present.
Even I cannot seem to put the pieces all together.

I am something that baffles,
Both myself and perhaps many others.
Chaos and confusion housed in my physical form.

I am an ocean of secrets,
And even I am afraid to swim to the ocean’s floor.
The depths are dark and dangerous, and not for the faint of heart.

But

To Him I am as clear as day,
Transparent, an open secret.
No clever words can mask what I’m thinking,
No lovely roses can hide the abhorrent stench of my sinning,
No sweat melodies can overpower the my internal screaming,
No fancy clothes can improve my being.

And

This is terrifying.
This is liberating.
This is the worst news.
This is the best news.

For healing can come only when the Healer knows what is ailing.

Digging a Deeper Hole

Digging a Deeper Hole

Last night, someone lost control of his truck, hit (and broke) the curb on one end of my family’s property, ripped a street sign out of the ground, knocked out a mailbox, spun back into the road and ended up in a large shrubbery on the other end of the property, with one of the back wheels thrown several yards away. After hearing the thuds and burning rubber, I looked out my window to see the driver frantically trying to drive out of the bush and the hole he was in. He kept pressing down on the gas multiple times. The engine revved up and dirt flew into the sky. His efforts to drive away only deepened the hole that his remaining back wheel was in. He dug himself into a deeper hole.

When he realized that there was no hope of driving out of this predicament, he ran away on foot, thus digging himself into an even deeper hole, this time with the law. He ran fast and managed to get quite far away, but he was no match for a K-9 unit hot in pursuit of his scent. Fleeing the scene of a crime and trying to hide only adds another charge against him. He dug himself into a deeper legal hole.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. This story could have had many other horrific endings for the driver, other drivers, my family or the neighbor’s family. We are very thankful about that.

Once the tow truck finally got the truck out of the shrubbery and the police left, a humbling thought came to me. How many times am I like the driver? How many times to I find myself in some sort of struggle or sin and keep frantically trying the same thing over and over again trying to escape? How many times do I try to “pull myself up by my own bootstraps?” How many times do I reply on my sheer willpower? And when I finally give up trying and trying and trying to fix the problem myself, how often do I run away? How often do I try to hide from all the shame? How many times do I dig myself into deeper holes?

The answer: more times than I’d care to admit. My tenancies are exactly like those of this driver. I try to fix my problems myself and when I finally give up on that, I try to run.

Sure, sometimes I try good deeds. But those deeds are often ruined by the stench of ulterior motives. Sometimes I try to just ignore the problem. But my mind always returns to it like a dog to its own vomit. Sometimes I try to rationalize and say my sin isn’t so bad. But the truth is that my hands are covered in blood and nothing I can do will wash me clean.

No matter how much work I do or willpower I have, I cannot overcome my sin. It is too strong and too powerful a foe. It is deeply ingrained in me. Sure, I can run, but my weary legs will only take me so far. My only hope is surrendering to God and believing in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

(1 John 5:4)

Of course, surrender isn’t easy. Even though I know that God knows all, it’s hard for me to admit things to Him and to just sit in His presence. It’s even harder to follow Him when He leads to tough conversations and situations. It’s also hard to admit my struggles with anyone around me, even those who seemingly want to help me. That has been especially evident the past few weeks. I know I’m not meant to carry my struggles alone but more times than not, I try to.

I keep digging myself into deeper holes of guilt, shame, fear, pain, and sin.

Thankfully, God didn’t and doesn’t and will not leave me in a hole. He doesn’t come after me in order to punish me but rather to rescue me. He takes my grimy rags and gives me new clothes. He works in me. He sanctifies me. He is patient with me. He lavishes me with His incredible love. And He is faithful to me.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

(Philippians 1:6)

My tenancy may be to dig myself into deeper holes, but thanks be to God, that is not the entire story.