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.

Mountain Perspective

An obstacle to overcome, a problem too great to bear,
Or an opportunity for a view to which none can compare.

What you call a mountain depends on your attitude,
And how you see it depends on your altitude.

If you want the majesty you’ll have to venture out,
And leave behind the baggage of comfortable doubt.

Then, once you’ve chosen to take the climb,
You must then take action one step at a time.

One step may seem small, but if you keep going you will see progress,
And you may even see beauty in the long climbing process.

For life springs forth from the decay and dirt on the ground,
Sometimes you just need to pause for a moment and look around.

So, embrace the journey as you continue the climb,
One step, one moment, one breath at a time.

The journey may get tiring, and your muscles will grow sore,
But in the pain is a lesson you cannot ignore.

Though your pride will likely protest,
Even the most athletic must come to a rest.

So, remember to rest, and to refuel too,
You must take care if you want to reach the top with its view.

After some time of rest and recuperation,
You can once more give the climb your full concentration.

Put one foot in front of the other once more and keep repeating,
Approaching the top and the promised view you are seeking.

In time and in steps, you will reach your destination,
With a combination of exhaustion and unprecedented elation.

And, if you look at the view of the mountains that now surround you,
You’ll feel so small but you’ll overflow with gratefulness too.

Mere words cannot articulate the beauty of what the eyes behold,
Some things must be experienced and not simply told.

As you take in the view so simply breathtaking,
Know that both the journey and this destination were of His making.

Keep your heart as open as your eyes and you’ll see,
That God was with you all along the journey.

He provided air in your lungs and reminders to rest,
And let you see hope and beauty in the quest.

He sustained you even when you did not notice His attention,
And He worked in ways beyond mortal comprehension.

He had every step of the way fully charted,
And was present in the valley before you even started.

A glimpse of what He is doing and what His hands have done,
Truly, there is no view that can be compared to this one.

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.

His [story]

History repeats itself and even when it doesn’t, it tends to rhyme.
Sometimes I find myself losing hope that it will be different this time.

The journey is a cycle disguised as an upward climb,
And soon I find myself in the same place, just at a different time.

Even poets need a break for a time,
From this scheme of never-ending rhyme.

I’m dizzy from these never-ending circles, I want to walk a straight line,
Yet I feel trapped within this dark labyrinth’s twisted confine.

But maybe there is still more to the story than these cynical words I speak,
Maybe there is still hope when all looks dark and bleak.

The past isn’t written with pencil upon paper, it’s carved in stone.
But to You on the throne, the future is just as well known.

My perspective is distorted, that is for certain.
But the truth is that You are still present here, among the hurting.

How long, oh Lord? How long must I wrestle with sorrow in my heart?
Give light to my eyes, for this night is dark and my heart is ripped apart.

The voices inside and outside of me snide and sneer,
Questioning why it seems You are no longer near.

Still, I’ve seen Your love in action and so I choose to trust,
Your love prevails even here in the thick cloud of pride-blown dust.

You see the beauty of the majestic mountaintop view You are creating,
When I see only the dirt and decay on the ground here in this time of waiting.

You are present and will make all things new,
And someday I will see things from a much higher view.

Now I see in a dim mirror confined by linear timeline,
But even in the darkest night, I see Your love’s sign.

History repeats itself and even when it doesn’t, it tends to rhyme.
Lord, I know You will make it different, in Your due time.

Growing Still

Watching the grass grow gets a reputation quite jaded,
For if you watch it for an hour, you will have an hour wasted.

There is no difference to the inpatient eye in that short time,
Yet it keeps growing, embarking on its upward climb.

Give it a few days’ time away from your eye,
And my, oh my, you will notice it grows high.

Uninhibited and in the right conditions, it reaches higher towards the light,
Just not at a speed that can be perceived by our partial sight.

It was always growing, even in that seemingly wasted hour,
By the strength of the sun and a little rain shower.

We don’t see it growing but we can see its growth in time,
And maybe that is true of us too, here in this lifetime.

If we look inward and try to see growth in a short time frame,
We will find ourselves weighed down by frustration and shame.

But by the power of the Son and God’s careful leading hand,
We are growing too, according to the ways He has planned.

And in His patience, He watches us grow hour by hour, day by day,
For He is the one who brings about our growth and leads us along the way.

He sees the growth we cannot perceive in our current state,
And in His mercy, He continues to create.

In time, we will look back and more clearly see,
What He saw all along, the good works He has done in you and me.

And He will complete every good work He began,
All according to His will, and His perfect plan.

Through It All

Through It All

Through every hour of every day and every night,
Even in the moments I do not have the strength to fight,
You are present, holding me in Your capable hands,
And fighting for me, leading according to Your perfect plans.

Through all the tumultuous storms of this life,
And every kind of mortal earthside strife,
You assure me that You are still in control,
And You draw near to comfort and console.

Through the endless stream of man-made turmoil too,
And all the hurt us mortal beings to one another do,
You promise that Your way will prevail in the end,
And until then, You lead the way to love, reconcile, and mend.

Through the times I am overcome with fear,
And all the moments I cannot feel You near,
You say to cast my anxieties on You because you care for me,
And tell me that feelings do not always correspond with reality.

Through every tear I have ever cried,
And all the times I have come to You tongue-tied,
You listen and understand all that I need,
And when I have no words, Your Spirit is there to intercede.

Through all the moments when all hope seems gone,
When I am weary and not sure I can continue on,
You offer me the rest my soul does yearn for,
And remind me, once again, that I do not walk alone anymore.

Through all the dead ends I find myself stuck in,
By my action and inaction, that is, by my sin,
You make a way where there is no way,
And lead me out, never leading me on or astray.

Through all the walls I have built by my pride,
And all the times I have tried to run from You and hide,
You break through to reveal my transgression in loving conviction,
And bring me back, redeeming me from my terminal condition.

And through the valley of the shadow of death,
Even on the day that I take my last breath,
You declare that I am not alone,
And assure me that You will bring me home.

Through it all, You are faithful and true,
And You see things from a much higher view.
No circumstance here can thwart Your plans,
And even now in the chaos, I am in Your steady hands.

Eggshells on the Shores of Grace

Eggshells on the Shores of Grace

This is an attempt to explain my testimony.
But these words are ultimately not about me; they are about Him.

“God is love” or so I sang, with an on the spot melody.
Not a care in the world but attracted to the Light that loved me.
A faith so strong, a mind so sure.

But cares came quickly, and I started to flee from the Light.
Trying to run from disapproving glares, only to run into snares.
I took my eyes off of Truth and stared at the waves I created instead.

Unintentional middle fingers and petty thievery,
Webs of lies and never satisfied jealousy,
I was only a child but able to feel condemnation upon me.

Reading words that felt like a heavy burden,
I cried myself to sleep believing I surely blew it.
Fear spread through me like an uncontrolled tumor.

I was only in the single digits, but definitely double-minded.
Unstable in all things, I was the storm and the storm was in me,
Seemingly ripped in two, torn between God and this world.

Still, a part of me kept hoping for redemption,
Believing that God’s grace might indeed be for me.
This hope was a flicker of light in the darkness of night.

That fire, though dim, stayed lit through all these years,
Long smoldering coals, never fully extinguished,
A testament to His great grace and mercy.

But my soul seemed legally blind to the grace being offered,
Able to sense light’s presence but not see what it illuminated.
Pride held me like an abusive lover, and I held it closer.

In Sunday school, I became well versed in basic knowledge,
Like one who has read about and studied the ocean,
But never been in the actual water.

Day by day, clearly definable wrongdoings matured,
Becoming more and more covert, yet with a stronger hold.
Pride was my ultimate hunger, fuel, and ulterior motive.

And in that pride, I played a warped version of a favorite childhood game,
Except instead of pretending to be a princess, I pretended to be okay.
I managed to fool some, and even myself for a time.

The masks of this twisted dress up game became thick and elaborate,
Seeming to ever widen the distance between the Creator and me.
My anxieties grew exponentially, and rest completely evaded me.

And as the years went by,
I found myself walking on eggshells
When He had called me to walk on the water.

I couldn’t fully believe that God could love me,
Every step closer to the water made me tremble with fear,
I felt I was drowning with my feet firmly in the sand.

So I tiptoed along the shores of grace,
All while carrying heavy burdens that
I was never meant to carry.

I kept pursuing the world’s glimmering pyrite,
Plenty of ‘good’ things, but never the Best thing.
But all chase and no rest left me weary and stressed.

Every day felt like more than I could bear,
But even in the darkest darkness, He was there,
He sustained me even when I couldn’t see Him.

Never once did He stop pursing me,
The Light kept calling my name in that darkness,
Through songs, sermons, and studies.

He is the hero of this story, and not me,
He gave me more than I could handle so that
He could give me more of Him.

He took that spirit of fear that paralyzed me,
He gives me His spirit to replace it.
And He is faithful when I stumble and falter.

My sin was great but He is greater,
My guilt was strong but He is stronger,
And I am His both now and forever.

When troubles and doubts come to harass me,
And the fears once again charge against me,
He is my rock, my refuge, my protector.

He began a good work in me,
And He will be faithful to complete it,
For He lives in me and I am hidden in Him.

And in His goodness, He beacons me each and every morning,
To leave these eggshells on the shore and join Him on the sea.
And by His grace alone, I can do that indeed.

Even the Hairs on Our Heads

God Knows Them All

I was recently in New York City, the largest city in the United States. His presence with me was so obvious throughout the anxiety-inducing trip, but there was a particular moment that He spoke to me to remind me of a mind-blowing fact that many of us, myself included, either don’t fully believe and/or take for granted. He also used this reminder to send some much needed conviction to my heart.

There are more than 8 million people living in New York City. Sitting in my hotel room at night and looking down, I could see countless people hurrying along the bustling streets below. From my perspective on the 24th floor, the people looked tiny and I couldn’t see much detail, even though the streets were well lit with flashing billboards and bright lights. As I sat and watched, God reminded me that each of these people, though they are complete strangers to me, has a story that He is the author of.

And of course, the 8 million people in NYC are just a fraction of the 7 billion people on the planet right now. And that is just a fraction of the God only knows how many billions of people who have lived and will live on this planet. The number doesn’t even compute in human minds.

That is a lot of people. A lot of stories. And God knows them all. He doesn’t just have a summary of each person either or see them from a distance like I did from the hotel. He knows every detail of every soul and story. In fact, He knows them better than the people themselves. Matthew 10:30 says that “even the hairs on [our] head are numbered!

How incredible is that? Take a moment to ponder it. Ask God to help you believe it as much as is possible. Know that you are loved so intimately by the Creator of all things that He knows even the number of hairs on your head. You don’t even know how many hairs are on your head! He knows your past, present, and future, and despite all the muck in your life, He loves you still.

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
    (Psalm 139: 1 – 4)

Since God is the creator of so many stories, and we are made in His image, it’s no surprise that we are people who like stories. Our societies are saturated with them! Throughout history, people have told stories, both real and imagined. We learn through stories and entertain ourselves with stories. It’s really impossible to go through a day without hearing or reading some stories. Sometimes we become engrossed in stories that we just can’t stop reading or watching until the end. We all have certain stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, that we love to hear, watch, and read about.

Some real-life stories, like those that hit the news media and trends on social media, are well known by seemingly everyone around us. Some names, like those of our political leaders and the most popular actors are a part of our vocabulary. This widespread knowing in our technologically advanced society reaches an even higher level when a man-man tragedy, like a shooting, strikes and moral outrage ensues.

What about the stories that don’t make good headlines though? What about the stories of ordinary people? What about the stories of people in your own town or city? What about the stories of the people you try not to look at as you go down the street? What about the stories of people who don’t look or dress like you? What about the stories of the people you don’t like? Do these stories matter less since they aren’t blared on every screen? Do the tragedies and issues that strike these people mean less simply because it’s not in the national spotlight for a few days?

Of course not!

Every person’s story matters. And even more than that, every person matters. That includes the people that we intentionally or unintentionally mentally categorize as “less than” in society. And as cliché as it might be, we cannot judge a book (or person) by its cover (or outward appearance).

The kingdom of God works differently than the world. In our world, those with prestige, power, money, fame, or great talents are the ones who are revered. In the kingdom of God though, “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). Jesus spoke to, healed, and hung out with the outcasts of society – the leper, the bleeding woman, the Samaritan woman, the tax collector, and so many other people that lived on the outskirts of society, shunned by the majority. Jesus saw them. If we are truly following Jesus, we will see them too, and do what we can to serve them and point them to eternal hope.

For me, that includes the people, especially the kids, living in the city next to my hometown in white suburbia. Growing up, whenever I heard people talk about the people in that city, it was rarely in a positive light. The city deals with the same problems that plague any urban area – poverty, violence, drugs, broken families, failing infrastructure, abuse, trafficking, etc. Many people on the outskirts seem to want to just sweep that whole city, and its problems, under the rug. God sees those people though. He hears the cries of the abused, oppressed, and hurting. He knows their names. He knows their struggles. He knows their pasts and futures. And as uncomfortable as it is for me sometimes, God has put it in me to want to know more of their stories too. He wants me to see them and love them as He does.

So as we begin another week, let us pray that God would help us to see the people around us with His eyes, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. May we also remember that He knows every detail of our own stories too, and loves us the same. May our stories ultimately point to Him, the author of them all. We are all living stories, and our days were known by God Almighty before they had even begun. All of us have dirt in our stories, but the best stories always have some triumph over struggle, some good overcoming bad, some hope in hopeless situations. We all have stories both to tell, and probably more often, to listen to. Let us live telling our stories and listening to the stories of even “the least of these.”