Whether misplaced or stolen, the effect is the same:
the search, the panic, the retracing of steps,
the sense that not an object but an organ,
not a possession but a position,
has vanished, without trace.
Whether passing or lasting, the search seems boundless.
The mind must run to what-ifs because
you never know: the cushion may disguise it, yet
tomorrow may also bear more disappointments
and soon it may be clear,
it is gone. And for now, at least, it is.
You might as well prepare:
its absence now defines you. The gains it bore
now weigh you down, your mind ever turning
to carve possibilities like pillars of salt.
Throw off. If it returns,
the bond must not return with it.
You have lost yourself; rejoice, held securely,
if tomorrow proves lost,
Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.
(New City Catechism)
First, declared –
First a righteousness which comes
in shower, blood,
First the gavel’s pound upon
the bench declares
Then the change –
“As you are, and
have been called –
now be each day. Now live a life
this calling, worthy
of this Life.”
First the calling, first New Life,
then life transformed
Faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledging the truth of everything that God has revealed in his Word, trusting in him, and also receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.
(New City Catechism)
Price paid – rest.
The promise lies in deepest past:
Adam’s offspring crushes heads
with his heel.
the Word tells all a soul must know.
Adam’s stain to stainless death,
Trust the truth:
though sin clamours at our ears,
better words are spoken in
the blood which
pleads for us.
Only by faith in Jesus Christ and in his substitutionary atoning death on the cross; so even though we are guilty of having disobeyed God and are still inclined to all evil, nevertheless, God, without any merit of our own but only by pure grace, imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ when we repent and believe in him.
This next question from the New City Catechism is a hard pill to swallow. It touches on what for me has long been one of the toughest questions of faith: the doctrine of election. The Bible is full both of invitations for all to come and also clear teaching that not all will come, and indeed that God has chosen for some not to come to Him. It can turn our heads and hearts inside out as we wrestle with it, yet in this poem I have tried to focus myself – and, I pray, you as you read it – on the goodness of God which shines through all these struggles through the gifts of common grace.
Are all people, just as they were lost through Adam, saved through Christ?
No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith. Nevertheless God in his mercy demonstrates common grace even to those who are not elect, by restraining the effects of sin and enabling works of culture for human well-being. (New City Catechism)
Today is Shrove Tuesday, a day simultaneously associated with pancakes and confession of sin. It is also the day before Lent begins, with Ash Wednesday’s focus on repentance: a day of feasting before the fast begins. Today’s song, the final track from Page CXVI’s “Lent to Maundy Thursday”, is a beautiful reflection on the love and grace of God, a perfect way to prepare our hearts for the beginning of the Lent season. If you have enjoyed what you’ve heard of the album in the past week, it will be released any moment now. (Due to the vagaries of timezones, I am posting this before it hits the 4th of March in the US.) Go to the band’s website for updates on availability.
Here also is my final pre-Lent poem. I am looking forward to sharing more Lent reflections with you over the next forty days. God bless.
Shrivelled, riven, sick with sin
and grieved with griefs too deep, too dim -
I crawl, I climb, I cannot climb;
I call, my God, I call.
I love the Lord; He hears my cry
and drags me, dumb, out from the tomb;
my soul, my soul, destined for death -
He lifts, my soul, He gives...
Sunken, shriven, sick within
and barely breath left to breathe in -
my God, my God: I cry, You cry,
and save my soul from sin.
What, are we in limbo –
The street filled with skeletons
And faces deathly white?
Pallid, strangely festive,
Sun still high, dusk not yet set –
All the in-betweenness of life
And death combine in suburban street.
Scout Hall silent for once in the week
And houses ring with trick or treat
Before the day the faithful pray
And make oblation for the dead
And for the lost ones, limbo-dreading,
Souls unsure of where they stand,
The cost already paid and yet
Strange parties rage, the in-between
The only place we know.