And keep –
keep me, keep watch, keep hope.
The pains that crush me are like pricks beside
Your agony, and yet
arms out as though to gather in
more pain, more shame, and thus
Man of sorrows,
what a name,
what a scheme
that stretches out the heavens
yet does not scorn these nails.
my proud sobbing, my heart’s throbbing; take
all my attempts to rise with Self.
Enfold me in Your scars and sing
through endless days.
I cannot stop the tide of life:
at speeds I cannot calculate;
and turns and undulates. It thwarts
my best paid plans, my stern-set goals.
this life bends to my will;
my trunk is buffeted too bluntly by these waves;
my fists smart from clenching at the sea.
O take me –
too sure of my own currents, too
accustomed to storms – take
my drifting self-assurance; pilot
headlong all my debris and
the flotsam, jetsam of my days
into Your streams of praise.
Lay me down –
slow me down and lay me down
upon the Cross, in Jesus’ hands.
Slow my heart and silence all
the numb self-serving of my pleas;
stifle pride, unlock the clench
of fists deep in this fickle dust.
Lay me down, my soul;
my soul in Jesus’ hands. Their scars
have room enough for me.
The lie entwines with half-truths:
it pleases the eye, and wisdom seems good,
yet that which seems deceives, tears apart at the seams
the fine-woven fabric of image and praise.
Who are we? Like God, yet when
we grasp at fruit to be like God,
the image dies; the garden turns to dustbowl.
O what have we done, what become?
Grace rearranges, but grace demands
no hubris, no self. Leave haughty chins at the gate.
Raise heads, but only to trust;
raise hands, but only to pray and praise.
Surely you will be like God; yes, and only when,
like God, you know yourself in Him alone;
only when, in perfect alignment with Father,
you lose all face to win a kingdom.
Dust I am, precious Lord.
Though well-adorned in rags of self,
underneath I am dry bone.
Daily I wander in search of glory:
fine silks to wrap my pride;
jewels to garnish ears that do not hear;
softest leather to shoe rock-still feet.
What can clothe a heart of stone?
What perfume can disguise rotting flesh?
O Lord, I am but dust; I cling
to the roof of the earth, a cloying taste.
O gather my dust; assemble my rags;
Only in You can life be made.
The serpent bites deep;
venom lurks where least expected.
The heart has chasms, labyrinths, unknown even to itself.
What way out have we but to weep?
Deceitful beyond all things,
the heart’s lie is more twisted than you ever thought.
Good intentions pave Destruction’s road;
who will rid me of this body of death?
Follow the trail of tears;
enter the wilderness where, sweating blood, He kneels.
Kneel too beside Him, where spirit wills but flesh resists.
Word-made-flesh, His flesh transfigures humbled dust.
As Easter rapidly approaches, I find myself feeling less and less equipped for what is ahead: Jesus on the Cross, bearing my sins. Even less prepared am I for the reality of the Resurrection – new life for old, us the sinners sharing in His glory. But this is the truth, and it can be a kind of misplaced pride which makes us hide from it, saying, “No, Lord, I don’t deserve it.”
Music is a wonderful way to help doubting hearts connect with knowing heads. Page CXVI have prepared another set of beautiful songs to take us through the end of the Easter season, and it’s with great pleasure that I am able to stream the first track of the album here for your enjoyment, along with a poem I have written in response to their song. Happy listening, and may God continue to prepare your hearts for this yearly reminder of His grace in Jesus.
O Sacred Head
This is not me, I declare
when the mirror shows my shame.
I am better, I insist.
Pull up bootstraps; prove self today.
Grace defies. Undeserved,
it holds the mirror, yet it swaps
dead image for renewed:
excuses starved, nothing ventured,
yet all gained.
O Sacred Head. I
am wounded when I see myself.
Why are You scarred
when I paint over my shame?