Gone for Good

The bond that time and distance will not sever
now is pulling on my fragile heart,
but you have gone for good, not gone forever.

For I cannot deny, despite whatever
pain may come, God planned this from the start -
our bond that time and distance will not sever.

I must submit to sovereign will whenever
tears appear; God made you for this part,
so you have gone for good, not gone forever.

God gives and takes away, thus I will never
take for granted my soul’s counterpart,
this bond that time and distance will not sever.

So I can send you off to your endeavour,
knowing God Himself your course will chart,
and you have gone for good, not gone forever.

Until we meet again, my friend, wherever
that may be, I’ll keep, while we’re apart,
the bond that time and distance will not sever,
for you have gone for good, not gone forever.


Confessions of a Compulsive Collector

Some hunt and gather for their great obsessions,
or purchase souvenirs as their mementos;
some horde the countless objects they are given,
or spend all free time playing with their photos.

But I collect the purest form of memories,
thoughts captured from the brightest and the deepest;
I lock within my chest these special treasures,
the priceless times spent with the true and dearest.

Unfading they are always present with me,
their worth accumulating as time passes.
Occasionally, for those who helped create them,
I open up to show selected riches.

Then joy renewed by heart-felt reminiscing
can polish and increase their hidden value;
while not receiving shared appreciation
corrodes like rust, or spoils like stubborn mildew.

So after I return them to their casket,
and store them in my vaulted heart securely,
then over time my rare collection either
sustains my soul, or eats away within me.


Unchanging

One yesterday the God who made all things
was born the man who died for me.
He took away my shame.

Today the God who must sustain all things
is still the man who pleads for me.
His righteousness I claim.

 Forever God the Son, heir of all things,
shall be the man who walks with me.
There is no fairer name!

 For yesterday, today, forevermore
my Jesus is the same.


Working Out the Knots

My friend sits quietly in flannelette,
the cold night watching from the windowsill;
narcotic TV helps her to forget,
while I nurse tender heartstrings tangled still.
For as she moves a hand beneath long hair
to rub her neck where all her worries dwell,
my raw heart resonates with every care,
and once again begins to ache and swell.
So to my feet I summon her to sit,
my restless hands to kneed through shirt and skin;
just close enough for her to benefit,
and near enough to ease the knots within.
Too soon tomorrow ends our therapy;
outside her door I curse the lonely street,
then turning, feel my heart wrenched out of me;
I leave it bound and waiting at her feet.
My final words I mouth in fading light,
‘Goodnight my tightest bond, my friend goodnight.’


Anamchara

Before commanding time’s inaugural day,
as God was writing in His book divine,
He must have smiled with pleasure at the way
your story would in time converge with mine.
It surely must have been His great delight
to fill our pages with affection deep,
and form us as two springs that would unite,
a stream of blessings rich to share and keep.
Composing our requited trust and care
as channels for His wisdom and our growth,
He yoked our hearts for loads to jointly bear,
and gave one mind and humour to us both.
Not distance, years nor death our tale can end,
for timeless Author made both soul and friend.


Prayers from Bethany (A Beautiful Thing)

Lord, when I aim to serve wholeheartedly
I think of all the things that must be done,
the countless needs love urges me to meet;
then worldly worries start to overwhelm,
and simply sitting still to hear Your voice
begins to feel a waste of precious time.

So please remind my burdened heart, dear Master,
that only one thing now is needed;
for being near through Your sweet word is better
than all that I could do for You.
And as I pour out all I have in worship,
may all my time be fragrant with surrender
to Your extravagant love for me,
and be a beautiful thing to You.

Lord, when my heart within feels torn apart,
or crushed into the dust of dark despair,
by all that is so wrong in this lost world;
and when to me Your ways make little sense,
Your ears seem closed and eyes seem shut to me,
then trusting in Your goodness can be hard.

So please remind my broken heart, dear Master,
that only one thing now is needed;
for crying out my hurt to You is better
than simple answers found elsewhere.
And as I pour out all my pain in worship,
may every tear be fragrant with surrender
to Your extravagant love for me,
and be a beautiful thing to You.

  Lord, when I find myself confronted by
the darkest depths of my depravity
and wretched inability to change,
then I begin heed the Enemy,
who hides Your finished work upon the cross
and questions Your triumphant love and grace.

So please remind my contrite heart, dear Master,
that only one thing now is needed;
for what Your saving work achieved is greater
than all my guilt and darkest crimes.
And as I pour out all I’ve done in worship,
may my remorse be fragrant with surrender
to Your extravagant love for me,
and be a beautiful thing to You.

Oh Lord, yes I have been forgiven much
So may my life reveal how much I love…
Oh Lord, yes I have been forgiven much
So may my life reveal how much I love You, Jesus.

And please remind my heart, dear Master,
that only one thing now is needed,
for faith and hope that rests in You is better
than all my striving and my shame.
And as I pour out all I am in worship,
may all my life be fragrant with surrender
to Your extravagant love for me,
and be a beautiful thing to You…
a beautiful thing to You.


By the Streams of Egypt

By the streams of Egypt weeps a woebegone pariah;
outcast of the outcasts, exile from a shattered country.
No one ever heeds ‘antagonistic’ Jeremiah;
therefore, I to these papyrus pages share my story.
Lost within Tahpanes’ hostile streets and foreign culture
it is hard to keep the plague of hopelessness at bay;
memories of that precious kingdom circle like a vulture,
land that once was home for me, and was a throne for Yahweh.

Though my tired eyes are failing, I can still remember
how the morning glow eased down to fill the Kidron Valley…
On the fertile hills of Benjamin, in North Judea,
lay the town of Anathoth, an ancient Levite city.
There once lived the family of the village priest, Hilkiah;
I, his son, there with my cousin, Hanamel, would play.
Later I would study under priest and scribal scholar,
learning how indelible we were secured by Yahweh.

Many times I heard the legend of King Hezekiah;
how he prayed to save us from Assyria’s great army.
Few, however, chose to share the warnings of Isaiah,
neither heeding Israel’s ruin nor our dismal history.
Then a seeking son of David, good young King Josiah,
started purging from our towns what leads the heart astray,
neither idols nor their priests escaped that great reformer
as he tried to turn my faithless nation back to Yahweh.

But his work could not undo the sins committed prior,
nor repair the many generations of decay.
So while caught between the Northern beasts and Southern monster,
few could concentrate on keeping old demands of Yahweh.

hrough that ordinary childhood I had no idea
Sovereign Power was then arranging empires vile and hungry,
while composing bones and nerves within this tender creature,
so that in His chosen timing we would all be ready.
That elected moment came for me when King Josiah
had commenced his thirteenth year in walking David’s way;
God had formed me as a prophet to the world arena,
known and set apart, appointed by the word of Yahweh.

But like Moses at the burning thorn-bush, or Isaiah
taken to the throne room of the Holy, Holy, Holy,
hearing from Almighty filled my timid heart with terror,
since for this high call I was deficient and unworthy.
So I cried out, “Ah, Lord, I am not a gifted speaker!”
in the presence of great men I knew not what to say,
“I am but a child,” and no one listens to the younger;
could not there be found a better instrument for Yahweh?

To my frightened cries the Sovereign gave commanding answer,
fearlessly I was to go and voice His word completely;
trusting in the guarantee that He would be my Saviour,
and in war with kinsmen or with kings be always with me.
Then with outstretched hand He filled my mouth and heart with wonder,
verifying through odd visions all I would convey;
vowing over His own word to be a constant watcher,
this sweet message of despair would be fulfilled by Yahweh.

That is how I was appointed over realms a preacher,
to uproot, tear down, destroy, and overthrow; so they,
and my people, after Northern tribes had brought disaster,
would all know the power to build and plant belongs to Yahweh.

Though I knew the prophet’s life meant I would greatly suffer,
shocking still it was to learn God’s pain I would embody;
this poor mortal heart torn by the raw immortal trauma
of One steadfast in His love, but now rejection-weary.
Spurned by my own nation, village, family, friend and neighbour,
I could only then begin to grasp His deep dismay,
anger for the faithless king and prophet, priest and scoffer,
who relentlessly had turned their stony hearts from Yahweh.

Yet, this heavy burden was but part of my life’s torture,
for the flipside of this call was to exhibit clearly
how the torment caused by this vast covenantal fracture
also would affect and wound my precious people deeply.
Therefore, I would be a mocked, abused, imprisoned loner,
living as a mourner and prediction-on-display,
screaming that their lives and social fabric soon would rupture
as their comfort, peace and joy is ripped apart by Yahweh.

They would call me ‘Terror-is-on-every-side’ and snigger,
scowl and shake their heads about my pessimistic ‘theory’;
but when came the dark eleventh year of Zedekiah,
when they realised far too late that I had spoken truly.
Now my nights are haunted through by nightmares of the horror,
and by day my memories swirl in grief and disarray,
after witnessing the bloody deaths and brutal capture
of my most beloved ones, those judged by holy Yahweh.

But my sorest private pain is that I’m thought a traitor,
as if I, just as before, my nation still betray;
for the dreadful words within my aching bones still smoulder,
caught between hearts hardened and the crushing rock of Yahweh.

Many days I needed to release the endless pressure,
so I cried out to the only One I knew would hear me;
venting through authentic tear-soaked prayers the hurts so bitter
and bold accusations that His promises seemed faulty.
When I wished I never had survived my mother’s labour,
seasons when His shielding presence felt so far away,
moments when I wondered if my God could be a liar,
all these grievances I threw before the throne of Yahweh.

There were times I pleaded, “Do not be to me a terror,”
knowing all too well I neither could earn peace nor pity;
so I often begged that in the dark day of disaster
God Almighty would fulfil his vow to be my safety.
Prayer was my one recourse before every persecutor,
for the righteous Judge alone all vengeance must repay;
therefore, when I felt just like a sheep led to the slaughter,
I would kneel and trust the tables would be turned by Yahweh.

That I could approach in such direct combative manner,
and our conversations be so personal and stormy,
likely would appal the priests and my old scribal teacher,
who thought they could hide from God what‘s not all sweet and shiny.
But I know there are no secrets from the great Beholder,
and should in His worthy keeping all my worries lay;
so my passions most profound I found no grounds to smother,
but instead cast all myself into the hands of Yahweh.

Honoured with an equally abrasive honest answer,
either to restate commands or to my fears allay,
time and time again through every bitterness and danger
I knew that I always had the listening ear of Yahweh.

After years of ministry my twilight hours linger,
I have served for longer than five kings, but now I’m empty.
Never shall I see restored my nation torn asunder,
nor my worn out feet embark the lengthy homeward journey.
How I wish I’d not been dragged across my country’s border,
that the fools had listened to the firm command to stay.
Now, because they chose to trust instead the old oppressor,
they shall learn again that Egypt falls before great Yahweh.

My one solace is foreseeing God’s astounding future,
knowing righteous judgement will give way to stunning mercy;
through the might of His own word, the gracious Liberator
will replant and will rebuild my nation for His glory.
My own patch of holy land I never will recover,
but I know that after seven decades kept away
a new exodus will leave the bondage of Chaldea,
and will come from every land to be at home with Yahweh.

While imagining the flock back in its proper pasture
is enough to even cheer a heart this grey and heavy,
still more captivating is the rescue so much deeper,
a renewal that I cannot comprehend now fully.
For the Lord’s new covenant shall soon replace the former:
God will forge a union from which Israel will not stray,
since their stony hearts, engraved with sin, are gone forever,
and replaced with hearts inscribed by perfect law of Yahweh.

Therefore, when my burning heart and bones in ashes slumber,
when my closing breath and final tears have slipped away,
God’s true word I told Baruch to write will be in Scripture,
and believed at last, by all those called and changed by Yahweh.


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