Twenty-Seven

mehmet-kursat-deger-1BoEP5teHeA-unsplash

When another year peels away,
like a husk of corn,
I break and bleed:
shedding youth is shedding dreams
some die quietly, but others go out with
a knife fight.
I revel and rejoice:
age wrinkles the heart first,
in a slow suicide of naivete,
pressing in the sorrow and sweetness,
like a double-edged sword
carving into me more longing and life
forming in me the image of Christ.

I have never felt the invincibility
of the young
but fragility is a familiar friend:
a sailboat spinning in the storm,
a bruised reed beaten by the winds,
an unspoken fear of dead ends.
Sometimes, the hammer has to fall
on my castles in the sand
these flimsy fortresses
that I might know, in every season,
the only Rock that stands.

Mark my days with delight and desire
for the one true God
If all else fades
fails
forsakes
and the darkness does not lift
make my smoldering wick
a brilliant flame
that testifies to His goodness
and the glory of His Name.

 

Photo by Mehmet Kürşat Değer on Unsplash

Ratljóst

IcelandPic

I keep imagining the raw truths I’ll tell you
as our Suzuki burns through sunlit mountain roads
where the gravel path snakes to the horizon,
and ours is the only engine humming
in the wild world that spills out around us.
I think I’ll unbury my soul
with a shovel or words or pickax—whatever works
—and make sense of life in 2019
inside our dusty silver SUV, crammed
with suitcases and instant ramen and
people who share my blood and genes.
Maybe I’ll tell you about the trials:
how I’ve cried and rejoiced and felt
the brokenness, the beauty of life
and quietly hoped this escape would harden me,
like the bold hills of Vestrahorn, against my fragility.
Or about Christ:
my Savior God who keeps me
and in my weakness, I know His faithfulness
and all these days will melt away
along with the glacier pillars of Jökulsárlón
but His Kingdom alone will endure
so repent, believe, stop chasing wind.

In the end, I said much less than all of that
but found there’s more than one kind of intimacy,
like the ways we make peace with silence
and loud snores,
pass around a dwindling bag of apples and chips,
pee in a freezing, forsaken snow field,
and push / pull each other up the mountains.
I know there are stories hidden inside all of us,
scars that carved deep caves, like lava chambers,
some still burning,
some covered with bitter ash.
God, we are so human—
and it’s here I find softness and strength:
that the shadows have not won,
that we are marveling at creation, gulping arctic air,
far from home but home with each other,
chasing away our unspoken ghosts with laughter,
in this land of ice and myths and fire.

Then I know
—when I’m stuck down on all fours,
my foot on the edge of a cliff,
but I’m cackling at your jokes—
that some of the scars
are sealing up inside.

 

Ratljóst (n.) – an old Icelandic word that means ‘enough light to find your way by’

Unveiled

jordan-wozniak-256456-unsplash

You are the One from all eternity
who joined the fabric of stars and seas,
rolled out the carpet of galaxies
yet all the brilliance of the newborn universe
is but one flicker of Your majesty

Still the height of Your design
was in humble, glorious, image-bearing man
though You knew he’d come to lead a rebel band
Your curse would slash through skies and land
Our eyes are dimmed and hearts are stone,
so a glimpse of holiness made the prophet know
before the Throne, we’re undone and damned

But like a knife that opens the mother’s womb
You cut through time and God was born
in Bethlehem, with no cradle or room
You taught repentance and a kingdom coming soon
but the way is through the cross and tomb

Come behold the Lord of law and grace
Veiled in flesh, the Son unveiled the Father’s face
the God who judges is the One who saves
You will strip the darkness in an unbroken blaze
and resurrection glory will ignite that day

 

“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Isaiah 46:9-10

 

Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

Lonely Sparrow

somin-khanna-14449-unsplash

Lonely sparrow
chiseled by a hard knife, like the one that split Job’s world
at
    the
        seams
and cut ridges of holiness on a broken cistern,
where glory poured in.
I see you, alone in the crowd,
melting into the shadow
your mouth smiles: a fragile pencil line
but your eyes say
how long, o Lord?
as you melt into the shadows, retreating
from sideways looks and rote theology
into your shell, with a rabble of ghosts.
Joy wrung dry, like an ironed sponge,
loosens your grip on this earth, a dim orb,
slippery between your fingers
ready for release.
Suffering has burned the blinders,
the dross from your eyes, so you see
more brightly,
the jasper walls and golden city
the King in His unveiled glory.

You have a bittersweet blessing.

Your frail shoulders bruise beneath these burdens
and I oft lack words and wisdom and divine lovingkindess
but there is enough for you
in our God enfleshed,
who blistered His feet on the hot sand of Samaria
and made His dwelling with us,
a tabernacle inside our unholy ruins.
Lonely sparrow
not one falls that He does not know,
He numbers the hairs of your head,
So take heart
He has overcome the world.

Photo by Somin Khanna on Unsplash

The First Coming

lukas-budimaier-49074-unsplash

The kingdom broke into quiet towns

—Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee—

with Sabbath scandals and silenced demons

The Uncreated One slipped into

time through a virgin womb,

soiled his feet on earth-beyond-Eden:

the garden poisoned by the serpent

dipped in thorns, decay, crooked hearts

He came,

not in the image of man-made idols

but in the shape of Scripture:

suffering servant, man of sorrows,

acquainted with grief

He came,

among a people with priests and temple

but far from God.

The kingdom broke into sinful souls

outside the holy city, on Passover,

when the shadow descended

the blood of the last Lamb fell on Golgotha,

swept over the doorposts of repentant hearts

—“It is finished”—

and death will pass away like a dream

Pilgrims

kc-luk-188412

In the breath between birth and dust
we bare our messy souls
through fumbling words
wrestling with limits—of language and finitude

And yet
an unearthly power rings
in our thin, trembling throats
These silent walls listen, with the angels,
as we kneel, scraped knees and bruised hearts
before the Alpha and Omega,
our Abba Father, who hears our speech
and our silence
Because He once carved an awful mercy
into Roman wood and the blood of God
so we might come near

Pilgrims,
gathered together in winter’s cold
a reprieve from a world drenched in mockery,
we whisper the names of friends
and enemies, of frailties and fears,
of sorrow and joy and sehnsucht—
our naked hearts find a voice before the throne
On a canvas of black space and burning stars,
we find a cradle of eternal warmth

 

Photo by KC Luk on Unsplash

Haunted By Eden

we live in a world haunted by Eden:
half is ruled by logic
0s and 1s harnessed to make machines
binary codes flicker into modern idols
hooking the mechanical bloodstream to ours
like an IV drip
half is given to wonder
a man can explain his own reality
or call it all illusion
1+1=2 in academic truth but judge not
what a man calls his god

are we algorithms, brushing against each other?
accidental programs of A, G, C, and Ts
we live in a world haunted by Eden:
in ceaseless striving for purpose
yet drowning in self-addiction
a worshipper’s soul chafes against the lies
that cells and galaxies exploded
from an empty inkwell
and the ache for meaning is
a chemical misfire

is it love or mathematics?

functions never parameterized heartbreak
or taught a man to die for another.

Solomon

Son of a warrior-king and his stolen wife,
bloodlines of sin and grace,
who’s God is untamed by man:
choosing Jacob over Esau,
the weak to shame the strong,
the wild branches grafted in.

Your renown sailed from Tyre to Sheba,
author of proverbs and poetry
architect of the temple
hands callused with ink and the cedars of Lebanon
labors of a heart wholly true—
yet how swift to fall from truth.

Wisdom cries aloud in the street
but you threw her off like a scandal
to embrace a harem and their gods
the ark, the cherubim, the Shekinah glory
forgotten, lost as the smoke of burnt offerings,
the blood blackened
the flame vanquished.

You spared a child from the knife,
yet carved a kingdom in two.

Your words taught men through ages,
but a bitter life taught you:
time is a splinter in the plane of eternity
and there is nothing new under the sun.
You did not need to know what a small blue orb
we spin on, to know it is all chasing wind
—wealth, wisdom, women—
the Preacher preaches,
but we are as deaf as a once-wise king.

What good is it to gain the world?
a Savior echoed, centuries later.

Son of a warrior-king and his stolen wife,
bookends of mercy mark your days,
who’s God is untamed by man:
you built Him a house,
though He built your bones,
you filled the Holy Place with sacred things,
and He tore the curtain.