O LORD, How Long?

My God this life can be so cruel

the burdens hard to bare

In weary lands I thirst for You

my soul fights dry despair

In miry depths of swirling thoughts

I sink in fear and shame

With breaking heart and burning bones

I wrestle sin and pain

***

How long, Lord, will You hide Your face?

How long, O Lord, how long?

How long until You hear my cry?

How long, O Lord, how long?

Please turn Your face to shine on me

O come, Lord Jesus, come!

Because of Your abiding love

O come, Lord Jesus come!

***

Your enemies are roaring, Lord,

 in shadows stalk their prey

They hate your chosen without cause

for You we’re scorned and slain

They taunt us saying, ‘Where is God?’

shoot arrows of deceit

The insults that are hurled at You

fall on Your scattered sheep

***

How long will Darkness mock You, Lord?

How long, O Lord, how long?

How long will we be slaughtered, Lord?

How long, O Lord, how long?

Please be our Light, our Shield, our Rock

O come, Lord Jesus, come!

Lord, for the sake of Your great Name

O come Lord Jesus, come!

***

The world groans under ancient curse

creation chokes with thorns

The nations gnash their greedy teeth

the wicked raise their horns

The fatherless and poor are crushed

the earth is soaked with blood

Death arms itself with war and plague

with famine, fire and flood

***

How long ‘til peace and justice reign?

How long, O Lord, how long?

How long ‘til Resurrection Day?

How long, O Lord, how long?

Burn all that’s wrong, make all things new

O come, Lord Jesus, come!

So we may always dwell with You

O come, Lord Jesus, come!

***

Wipe all our tears and fears away

O come, Lord Jesus, come!

‘Til this age ends we wait and pray

O come, Lord Jesus, come!

***

The Spirit and Your Bride say, ‘Come!’

Amen, Lord Jesus, come!


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 empty street,
then turning, feel my heart twist out of me;
I leave it frayed and matted at her feet.
My final thoughts uncoil in fading light,
‘Goodbye entanglements.  My friend goodnight.’


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.


Some Say

.  Some say you are a teacher,
.                       whose words are good and wise
.  Some say you are a prophet
.                       like all those sent before
.  But your eternal Father has revealed to us the truth
.                       You are the Christ, Anointed One
.                                                 the hope of Israel
.                       You are the Great Deliverer
.                                                 our strong Immanuel

.  Some say you are a legend
.                       a life turned into myth
.  Some say you are a fiction
.                       believed by desperate fools
.  But history and witnesses confirm to us the truth
.                       You are the shoot from Jesse’s stump
.                                                the heir of David’s throne
.                       You are the Lord’s beloved Son
.                                                majestic Cornerstone

.  Some say you are an option
.                        just one of many paths
.  Some say you are a model
.                       or force inspiring good
.  But in our hearts the Holy Spirit guides us to all truth
.                       You are the Servant and the Lamb
.                                                whose blood has paid the price
.                       You are our spotless righteousness
.                                                the perfect sacrifice

.  Some say you are a lost cause
.                       a faith that’s obsolete
.  Some say you are a dead man
.                       whose promises are dust
.  But as we wait the coming Day we will proclaim the truth
.                       You are the living Son of Man
.                                                the Lord of everything
.                       You are the resurrection life
.                                                Creation’s coming King


Treasures

No favour can I merit from His hand,
nor may I hope to gain a boon divine;
that God would care for me is far too grand,
concern so lofty never should be mine.
For not a single sin can I atone,
or wipe away one smear of guilty shame;
to every sweeten’d darkness I am prone,
so righteousness could never hope to claim.
My play cannot retain a lasting joy,
nor can my toil accomplish peace of mind;
all hope my doubts do venture to destroy,
and warmth of love my coldness will not find.
But these, and untold treasures to enthrall,
are mine in Christ, for He has earned them all.


Child of Grace

Surrender time to sigh in God’s embrace;
in lonely night, when all seems dark despair,
remember who you are, oh child of grace.

When winds of stinging pain assail your face,
and waves of bitter torment strip you bare,
surrender time to sigh in God’s embrace.

If doubt your mind divides, with aim to chase
all peace and joy into its wicked snare,
remember who you are, oh child of grace.

Should choice result in life of frantic pace,
leaving your days with not a moment spare,
surrender time to sigh in God’s embrace.

Your foe’s most favoured blade is past disgrace,
so if you’re lured into guilt’s evil stare
remember who you are, oh child of grace.

Be pleasure, pain, whatever may be the case,
for you this is my counsel and my prayer:
surrender time to sigh in God’s embrace,
remember who you are, oh child of grace.