The Sojourner’s Song

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Sunrise in Arlington, Texas. – R.H.

Here I’ll stay a while
Here I’ll rest my head
Here I’ll spread the canvas
Here I’ll drive the tent pegs

No walls to guard me at night
No city gates to keep me safe
Only cloth between me and the sky
A City is promised, but not yet

Sojourner, traveler, I wander
Through these lands
Promised but not fulfilled
Promised but not yet

Not a city of earthen walls
Not a city made by hands
I wait for something sweeter
A Holy City in a Promised Land

Promised, not yet fulfilled
Promised, but not yet
Still waits the consummation of
A people, and our place of final rest

Foundation Stone

IMG_2429.JPG Where could I run
Where could I hide
If Thy righteousness
Stood not by my side

Where then my hope
And what then my plea
If Thou, O my Savior
Died not for me

Where then my trust
My comfort and peace
If Thy sacrifice
Did not this one redeem

Nothing, nothing
Apart from Thee, dear Father
Nothing, nothing
Apart from my Savior’s blood
Nothing, nothing
Apart from the Spirit’s sustaining grace
Not a hope, not a plea
Apart, O Lord my God, from Thee

So catch me, lest I drift
I’ve no power on my own
Lord, now more than ever I need Thee
I believe, I believe, help Thou my unbelief

Forever Faithful

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Solid rock
Sturdy ground
Here I plant my faltering feet
Here my hope is found

Great is Thy faithfulness
Sure is Thy love
My heart turns daily
But turns not the grace which flows from above

Great is Thy faithfulness
From day unto day
Provide, sustain, enliven
Strengthen this fainting heart
That is so prone to stray

Solid rock
Sturdy ground
Firm beneath my trembling feet
Here I’ll sink my hope and trust
Here I find my soul’s relief

Broken, needy, craving rest
Once more I come before Your throne

Briar Thorns

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Light of every imaginable color dappled the whitewashed planks. I tiptoed, pausing to watch the shifting colors beneath my feet. The rainbows swam, and somewhere high above my head a rafter began to creak in protest to the sudden gust of wind—wind that set the trees outside swaying and threw dancing colors at my feet, fractured and projected by the stained glass. I found myself near the front, but not quite. Too modest and self-conscious to kneel at the worn carpet stairs, I slipped instead into the second pew at my right hand. Why the awkwardness? Hundreds, surely, had knelt in that spot. More likely, it was the thousand thoughts and memories swirling through the air like so many dust motes that gave me pause. There were shadows and years close beside me—sitting next to me—and they hung back in silence, watching me. Somehow, it did not seem fitting to waltz in and make myself so at home. I slid into the pew, bowing my head and squeezing my eyes shut as I did.

I’m not a believer in the so-called sixth sense, but I felt the hair on the nape of my neck prickle and a long shudder scurried up the length of my spine. I knew he was sitting next to me, before I even opened my eyes. And yet somehow, it wasn’t startling to see him there. He belonged, as much as the stained glass, the dappled light, the hardwood pews, the carpeted stairs, and the plain wood cross. His presence should have surprised me, but it didn’t. Actually, there was something marvelously calming about the way he fit so well into the surroundings. Fit into? No, not quite—he was part of them.

“All may approach, sister. There is no separation, save the insurmountable walls you’ve built up within your own heart and soul.”

“They crowd my mind, brother. They keep me back.”

“Perhaps you should not give them reign: it’s a dangerous thing. Pray for strength, little sister, and ask our Father to tear down the walls you’ve made.” He smiled, and the crow’s feet beside his milky eyes crinkled.

It wasn’t the weight of the years and the souls that once filled the chapel—it was not these that blocked me. Raising my eyes once more to the carpeted stairs, I understood. There were briars. Horrible, thorny bushes—wretched. The kind that gleefully snag on the thinnest thread of clothing and find no greater delight than in tearing at exposed flesh. They crowded the isle and surrounded the front most pews, rendering passage to the stairs and the cross impossible.

“I can’t uproot the thorn trees, brother. Believe me, I’ve tried, but they only come back thicker, stronger, and crueler.” Even I could recognize the note of plaintive desperation.

“When did I say anything about you uprooting them? When did I tell you to pluck them up and cast them into the fire? You can’t.”

“But what should I do?”

“You know what you are to do.”

“I can’t. I’m not good enough.”

“He is sufficient.” The ancient eyes wandered to the cross, then focused back on my face.

“Maybe I won’t like them being gone. Perhaps just sitting here is better. Maybe I enjoy them sprawled there, though they block me. Maybe… maybe they’re not even a block at all.”

“Do you really believe that?” He inquired quietly.

“… no. But it would be almost easier if I really did.”

“Ask Him.”

“I don’t know how.”

“Your soul knows how, e’en though your mouth be too weak to find the words.”

I squeezed my eyes shut again, ignoring the tears that had begun to seep between my lashes—and I prayed. I prayed for the briars. I prayed for those ugly, pesky, hideous briars that forever crop up, tangling the path and tearing at my feet. I asked Him to take the briars away, to uproot them and cast them aside. I gave him all my ugly, wretched briars.

I opened my eyes. The stained-glass chapel was gone. Once more I was among ruins. Standing stones, half-buried wood, and the remains of a few steps leading up to… sky. There was only sky where the cross had hung. I knelt at the steps, and cursed the sharp prick of pain from the briar barb that embedded itself in my knee as I did so. Briars. There were still briars. But there were not so many as before. There were only a few, and even they look pale and sickly. Gently, I traced the outline of the thorns with the tip of my finger, pushing aside the brush and twigs—hidden, cradled, and sheltered, a tiny rose greeted me.

Sunday Morn

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O Father, once again we come

Broken, humbled, craving rest

Once again, we approach Your throne

Once again, Your name we bless

 

Not by our works, oh no

O Lord, not by our deeds

Not by our own fragile strength

Have we secured the right to bend the knee

 

We come by the blood our Savior shed

We come by the life He purchased in death

We come by the hope He forever secured

We come by the grace that always endures

 

Not by our own strength, oh no

Lord not by our own prowess

Only by Your might, O Lord

Can we kneel, and praise, and bless

 

So Lord take our hearts

Though feeble a gift they be

Take our very life and breath

Bend them wholly unto Thee

 

Not our own will, oh no

O Lord, not our own dreams

Your will and Your glory

Not ours but Yours, O Sovereign King

 

Towers crumble

Nations rage

Our days run out

But You remain

King o’er the ages

 

And so we rise

Go about our daily deeds

Keenly aware of Your sustaining care

And our own desperate, daily needs

From Gray to Blue

Sometimes I think too hard
Sometimes I don’t have room to breathe
Sometimes I run too fast
In the pursuit of hollow dreams

So I pour another cup of coffee
Jot another line or two
Praying that tomorrow
The sky will finally be blue
‘Cause I can’t see past
All these dreams that just won’t last
They cloud my day
With bitter gray
And lock my soul away

Sometimes I don’t think hard enough
Sometimes I forget
Sometimes life just passes me by
As I remember how to live

So I sip a bit of coffee
Jot another verse or two
Cast my heart to tomorrow
When the dew’ll be fresh and new
‘Cause I can’t help but dream
Of all the beautiful, terrible things
That make up life
Both joy and strife
In the end combined

Slowly, oh so slowly
I begin to see
Finally, I understand
That there’s a difference between
A check marked list
And the truly important things