Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they;
“Even this shall pass away.”
Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these;
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main;
“What is wealth?” the king would say;
“Even this shall pass away.”
‘Mid the revels of his court,
At the zenith of his sport,
When the palms of all his guests Burned with clapping at his jests, He, amid his figs and wine, Cried, “O loving friends of mine; Pleasures come, but do not stay; ‘Even this shall pass away.’”
Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned the queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
“Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bossom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay –
Even this shall pass away.”
Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
“Pain is hard to bear,” he cried;
“But with patience, day by day,
Even this shall pass away.”
Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly: “What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay;
Even this shall pass away.”
Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Said he with his dying breath, “Life is done, but what is Death?” Then, in answer to the king, Fell a sunbeam on his ring, Showing by a heavenly ray, “Even this shall pass away.”
What eclipses life and death, and all the sorrows and joys in between?
Life in Him, for eternity.
C.S. Lewis described pain as ‘the megaphone of God.’
Are we listening? What does it take to hear?
No man is an Island
No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
— John Donne (Reportedly written while convalescing from what was thought to be the bubonic plague)
“In his face there came to be a brooding peace that is seen most often in the faces of the very sorrowful or the very wise. But still he wandered through the streets of the town, always silent and alone.” — C.M.
Of all the goodbyes, why has this wounded so deeply?
There were others held in higher esteem, futures that shone brighter still.
But why this? Why now?
Was it the nonjudgmental welcome?
Your feigned confusion with my questions, and the honest and creative response.
Even when the answer was beyond you, you walked through the depth of the maze with me, both guided by light one step ahead.
(Though time and again, I wondered if you were there, and waited until I arrived there, too.)
At the end of the maze, I look back and realize it was not perfection, not skill, not beauty, not abundance… No.
It was just a willingness to walk together — to wander, to be lost, to wait, to be found… repeating this again and again on this path full of strange and unexpected turns.
That it was a choice. To choose the same again, and again, and again.
And I think the wound is this.
At the end of the maze, I see a fork in the road.
One is well suited to you, and the other, me.
There is no reason to choose any other. Logically, we should embark our own.
You asked why ‘joy’ was the most difficult one for me.
It is this: To live with unknowns and the painful aftermath…
Yet believing that all is well and will be well.
To sit silently, bearing pain and wondering about the meaning.
To be reasonably happy here, and supremely happy in the next.
To wake up.
Those seconds of blissful forgetfulness.
To be washed over by these same waves over and again.
The anchor is faith and hope in Him.
Healing is with Him, too.
(That this will not be known here, until the day we stand. That, too, is well.)
Tonight, the wound is fresh, and deepens with understanding.
But ‘all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’
Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood. Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness.
A great deal of honour God had now lately put upon Aaron; his rod had budded and blossomed, when the rods of the rest of the princes remained dry, and destitute both of fruit and ornament. Now lest Aaron should be puffed up with the abundance of the favours that were done him, and the miracles that were wrought for the support of him in his high station, God comes to him to remind him of the burden that was laid upon him, and the duty required from him as a priest. He would see reason not to be proud of his preferment, but to receive the honours of his office with reverence and holy trembling, when he considered how great was the charge committed to him, and how hard it would be for him to give a good account of it. Be not high-minded, but fear.
…This is a good reason why we should neither be envious at others’ honours nor ambitious ourselves of high places, because great dignity exposes us to great iniquity. Those that are entrusted with the charge of the sanctuary will have a great deal to answer for. Who would covet the care of souls who considers the account that must be given of that care? (Matthew Henry)
Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.’”
When the Levites had thus paid the tenth of their income, as a heave-offering to the Lord, they had themselves the comfortable enjoyment of the other nine parts (Num. 18:30): “When you have thus heaved the best from it (for still God’s part must be the best) then you shall eat the rest, not as a holy thing, but with the same freedom that the other Israelites eat their part with, in every place, you and your households,” Num. 18:31. See here what is the way to have the comfort of all our worldly possessions so as to bear no sin by reason of them, as it follows, Num. 18:32.
[1.] We must be sure that what we have be got honestly and in the service of God. It is your reward for your service; that meat is the best eating that is first earned; but, if any will not work, neither shall he eat, 2 Thess. 3:10. And that seems to be spoken of as having a particular comfort and satisfaction in it which is the reward of faithful service done in the tabernacle of the congregation.
[2.] We must be sure that God has his dues out of it. Then we have the comfort of our substance when we have honoured the Lord with it. The you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have heaved the best from it. This intimates that we must never feed ourselves without fear, lest our table become a snare, and we bear sin by reason of it; and that therefore we are concerned to give alms of such things as we have, that all may be clean and comfortable to us.
You are good, even when You are not understood.
(You chose us to be a royal priesthood.
To proclaim your light to the nations.
Keep Your people on my heart always.)
“Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.
“O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You…”
We’ll spend years, Lord, toiling for a mention in the books of history.
But the world forgets… forgets the greatest and the worst.
Yes, and dinners and parties and conversations and worth.
But all spotlights dim.
Left in the dark again.
Where does this leave us? Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Of all the books, this Book is the only one that matters to have your name in — a matter of Life and death.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.(Luke 10:20)
O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
And the reminder that while the world looks for elites, ‘cream-of-the-crop,’ the perfect people… You came for the broken! You came to heal the broken!
…the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1)
Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
Good enough? Not good enough?
By Your standard, none is.
But here is the place for Grace.
And bygrace, through faith (not because we were good), but by the gift of God, we receive the acceptance that our souls have long cried out for.
Then Lord, may all thoughts of inadequacy, all worries of worth, all doubt past-present-and-future be laid to rest. Let the only work they achieve be to prompt us to seek You.
Thank You for loving the broken.
But if it’s true You use broken things Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours
Summer… Good time for camping in the great outdoors.
But can you imagine going camping for months, or years?
… Or 40 years? … In the wilderness, the unforgiving desert?
…With all your family, and everything you own? (Suddenly not sounding so fun.)
The faithlessness at Kadesh Barnea by the Israelites, despite being so close to the Promised Land, resulted in these 40 years of wandering for a faithless generation.
When God has freed us from bondage in Egypt, is our response, once freed, to seek a return to captivity (Numbers 14)?
But God is faithful.
See how He provides and guides them still.
And He guides us still, He is still going before us!
My friends, how close are we to God’s promise? Has the wait been so long that we’re losing faith?
Do not let Him find us a faithless generation. He has freed you! Do not seek bondage again, in your faithlessness.
Believe in His promises, and go on by faith, not sight.
So it was, whenever the ark set out, Moses said: “Rise up O Lord! Let your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate you flee before you.”
And when it rested, he said, “Return, O Lord,
To the many thousands of Israel.”