Soldier on the Rhine

This poem is for my dear grandfather. On Easter Sunday, April 1st, 1945, a stray German bullet impacted the sight of the gun he and his buddy were manning. His buddy was killed instantly. Papa survived. Some might call it luck or chance, but my grandfather–with tears in his eyes–recollects how it was only by the grace of God. If he had been a fraction of an inch to the left… or to the right… the shrapnel that still remains in his face and hands would have taken his life. But he wasn’t… and it didn’t.

 

On the bank of the Rhine

With bullets flying

No hope in sight

Will I die tonight?

 

Hardly more than a boy

I’m just a young man

Trying my hardest

To do all that I can

 

A lump in your throat

You know that it’s time

As we man our gun

On the bank of the Rhine.

 

War – It’s an ugly thing

You can almost smell the fear

It’s gut wrenching

The bullets strike too near.

 

Stars above – bright night sky

My friend I knew you well

Why did you have to die?

Fear’s a hard thing to quell.

 

Fire within my hand

I can feel myself fall

Here in this foreign land

Can you hear my voice call?

 

Lying alone – the hard ground

Time is now standing still

Can’t move – can’t make a sound

Darkness covers and fills.

 

Pain and agony are all that I see

Wounded men on either side

This one is struggling

To even breathe.

 

Cold…

The faces come and go.

Cold…

A nurse brings a blanket.

Why should she have to face this?

This insanity?

 

But merciful God…

You spared my life.

 

They showed me the sight

The frozen path of the bullet

Traced in the light.

 

By all accounts

I should be dead

Yet my life was spared

By the width of a thread.

 

Providence…

I am alive:

By the grace of God

I have survived.

 

Related: Survivor – Chalk Art.  A chalk art tribute to Papa Hiller.

Advertisements

Christ Our King

cross on manger

Babe in the straw

While Bethlehem sleeps

The Savior is born

Christ our King.

 

He has descended

Made Himself low

Garbed in our flesh

Yet still God alone.

 

O wondering shepherds

What do you see?

The Shepherd of us all

Our Lord, Christ the King?

 

Angels in chorus

Lift up their praise

“Glory to God in the highest”

Their voices raise.

 

There on the floor!

Mary, do you see?

There is a shadow cast

By somber tree.

 

There is a cross

There is a death

A sacrifice

To pay our debt.

 

When you gaze into the manger

What do your eyes there see?

A tiny babe, lying in straw

Or God made flesh, Christ our King?

Rejoicing Under Suffering

Beloved of Christ

Be not dismayed

By the ghastly persecution

That haunts your ways.

 

The world hated Christ

So it hates you as well

Your blessing is not of this life

With your Savior you dwell.

 

Christ is our hope

Do not lose faith

Over the fiery trials

That burn your life ash gray.

 

Think not it strange

To witness strife

Tis not strange at all

For your hope is not this life.

 

Be not afraid

Rest solely in Christ

Lift your gaze to heaven

Though felled beneath the world’s scythe.

 

Chase not after the honor

That flows from this sickened world

Cling you still to Christ

He is our final and glorious hope.

 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”  — 1 Peter 4:12-13

All Creation Shouts

You ask me how I know

That there is something more

You ask me why I hold so tight

To that with immaterial form.

 

Why do I believe

Why do I hope

Why do I trust

How do I know?

 

All I’ve to do

Is glance up at the stars

I see the whirling galaxies

And know that Love cannot be far.

 

I glance down at my feet

And the blades of grass I tread

Each so tiny, so well designed

But their abundance turns my head.

 

I breathe in the ocean wind

And watch the fish beneath the waves

I see their glorious colors

Their variety and display.

 

I watch the birds away up high

And hear the eagle’s mighty shriek

As he plummets earthward to seize his prey

With keen eyes he downward seeks.

 

You ask me how I know

You ask me why I trust

I’ll point beyond the windowpane

To the creation God has with life blessed.

Sometimes I Think…

 

milkyway

There are times when I merely sit and think. I think about life, the events of my day, and the people whose paths have crossed with my own. I think about their lives and what they are going through, and I consider the various lives that we all live, side by side and yet somehow distinct and separate. I think about our country, and how each and every one of us has an effect and an impact greater than we can ever know, simply by the choices we make every day and how we decide to live and approach life. I think about the world at large, and our country’s influence in the world, and of all the things that could and someday might be because of our influence. I think of our world, hurtling through space, suspended in the cosmos in a fixed orbit around a fiery giant—a few miles closer, and we would be toast; a few miles further, and we would be frozen corpses. I think about our solar system, and how it is just one tiny blip in our galaxy as a whole, a tiny speck barely large enough to pinpoint on a picture. I think about the Milky Way, so gloriously displayed in the heavens, and yet only a grain of cosmic sand on the shore of the universe. And then I remember that God created that universe by a mere thought. And then suddenly… I feel very… very… small. But, then I remember that the same mighty God who formed the universe with but a thought is the same one who designed me, right down to the smallest cell in my body. I remember that this is the God who knew me before the beginning of time, and planned all my steps and all my ways. Now I still feel rather small, but mostly I am amazed. Amazed, confused, grateful, and in awe, because He who formed the cosmos with but a thought is the same One who chose to call me before time began.

 

Death is Not Death

Originally penned on January 1st, 2013, in honor of Glenn Wilkinson. Dedicated to Bill Reese. Shared in memory of Harry Russell, who went to be with the Lord today.

Red Sunset

Death is not death:

The grave is not the end;

We who are in Christ

will someday meet again.

 

Your eyes gently close;

You breathe your last;

Then you see glory—

all else has passed.

 

We mourn now you’ve left;

You walk here no more;

But death is not death—

You walk with our LORD.

 

Through all these tears

our souls are still glad;

You’ve risen to glory

where no heart is sad.

 

We look forward,

we eagerly wait

for when the LORD calls

or ‘tis end of days.

 

Death is not death:

The last page is done;

Some might think defeat—

We see a battle won.

 

Death is not death:

The clouds roll away;

All is clear as silver glass;

All dissolves into glorious day.

 

Farewell for now—

This is not the end.

We shall someday

meet again.

Stronghold

Stormy-Nature

Assurance. How quickly we forget. How swift we are to remember our tiny cares and yet forget the extraordinary grace of our God’s promises–grace unmerited, yet granted freely.

 

Our God does not forget His promises. He does not change. Our hope remains steadfast in God; He is our stronghold.

 

The winds may howl

And the oceans rage;

Christ is my rock,

My hope and my stay.

 

The sun may burn

With feverish heat;

I will not be scorched,

Christ is my relief.

 

The earth may quake

And the stars might fall;

My hope is sure,

For Christ is my all.

 

And in that day

When all be consumed;

I will shelter in the cleft,

For I go not to doom.