Be Near

Come, God of all the universe on high.
Bend low and hear your servant’s humble cry.
Come, now, down off your glorious throne and stoop
As your dear, finite flower’s petals droop
And all but wilt completely, longing just
To taste life’s spring instead of ash and dust.
Come, Lord, my Maker, Father, turn this way;
Draw near that your full presence may display
Its glorious breadth upon my aching soul
And utterly consume its wanting whole.
Relieve your right hand’s duty to the stars
That you may rest it on this empty jar
Of earthen clay and fill it with your light.
Come near and be my lamp amid my night.

You only fill this longing deep in me.
Were earth’s wide depths and heights of mountains, sea,
Offered to quench my hunger for true peace,
All would fall short—yea, longings would increase!
Come, Shepherd, Jesus, spread your mantle wide
Across this curved and shivering back and hide
Your lamb securely in your shadow’s keep,
Where he might feel you close and know sure sleep.
It’s there he finds his heart’s most craved desire—
To be consumed in your sweet Spirit’s fire.

Advertisements

A Matter of Words

I really want to know God. Like, really. I want to be able to communicate with him. I want to know what it is to walk in his presence. I want to feel him near, and even more than mere feeling, I want him to actually be near.

So my question naturally becomes, Well, then, just how do I do that? What is required to bridge the seemingly infinite cosmic gap of time and space that exists between me and the Creator God of the universe? Is communication with him mystical? As in, does communing with God involve low lighting, special chants, and some type of out of body experience? Must my spirit somehow leave its body and cross the vast void of eternity to enter God’s presence and know him near? Does interaction with the Divine involve a transcendent experience of bright light, heightened enlightenment, and warm, fuzzy feelings?

Sometimes I wish I had such experiences. They just sound so intriguing. And what great stories they would make! Certainly upon having such an experience I could be assured that I had, in fact, touched the heart of God and that he had touched mine.

It dawned on me the other day that communicating with God does not require anything out of the ordinary whatsoever. In fact, communicating with God is achieved by exactly the same means by which I communicate with my wife, my students at school, or a stray dog on the street. Communication involves words. It always involves words. If I want to communicate something to a dog, my students, my wife, or to God himself, the only way I can do so is through my words. It’s very simple. I speak to him. That’s all it takes to create a link with the very Maker of heaven and earth. A word.

And the mindboggling thing about it is that that’s exactly the same way he communicates to me. Receiving communication from God—just like sending it—doesn’t require trances, late-night conjuring, or special sensitivity to secret, ethereal energy fields either. He speaks to me in words. And if that weren’t jaw-dropping enough, it turns out that God wrote those words down for me in a book. And I own a copy.

If you’re like me, at first glance such an idea might seem like a letdown. I’d rather fast for seven days and then scale a high mountain where I perform some ancient, mystic ceremony during which I feel all sorts of warm fuzzies and in the process experience the very presence of God. The reality is, however, that tends to speak to me around 5:43 A.M. when I’m still wearing my bathrobe and slippers, hunched over my Bible, fighting to keep my eyes open because the old, stained leather chair we got from a thrift store is way too comfortable for morning devotions. And he speaks to me when I’m walking down the hallway at school on my way to see my fourth graders, mind racing and anxious about all I need to get done. And he speaks to me when I lay my head down on my pillow at night, and when I go to the gas station, and when I’m feeling irritation well up inside me toward my wife.

And just how does he speak to me? No lights. No soft music. No smoke. Just his words. His words as he wrote them down in a book, the Book of books, the Bible. And my heart speaks back, either audibly or silently. And in that moment, I’ve communicated with God. Unfathomable. And it’s the most common experience of all, for such is every single interaction with every single human being you’ve ever had or ever will have. Communication is essentially an affair of words.

The question, then, is whether or not you hear his voice. And whether or not you answer back. In words, of course. Something that Jesus says to me often is this: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). That has become a very dear word directly from God’s heart to mine. And I would be overjoyed if you could say the same.

Whether you’ve never communicated with God before or you’ve done so innumerable times, at the heart of that communication are words. Speak to him, and then open the book he wrote for you and listen to him speak right back. It doesn’t sound as cool as mountaintop highs or ethereal energy fields, and yet, in my personal experience, it’s better. I think it’s better because it’s real. Real communication doesn’t involve such theatrics. But real communication is what the soul craves. So speak and listen. A real God is waiting for real fellowship with you through real words.

Behind the Poem: “Unrestrained”

Click here to read the poem “Unrestrained,” posted on 11/12/2011.

The Meaning
There is a longing within every human heart that is inestimable in vastness. God put it there. It is a good longing. It is a longing we have as human beings to be in relationship with our infinite Creator.

We all know relationships matter more than stuff. Just ask any lost child in a toy store, desperately looking for his mother. What’s more valuable, that Star Wars action figure you were just drooling over or your mom’s presence? Or just ask any cancer patient undergoing chemo treatments. What’s more valuable, spending your last days polishing a shiny new Mustang in the driveway or spending time with your grandchildren?

There is one relationship that matters more than any other. It is a relationship that is able to bring us more joy and more fulfillment than any other. And that’s a relationship with our God. The poem “Unrestrained” is an expression of the desire to burrow as deeply as possible into a relationship with our amazing Creator.

I chose the title “Unrestrained” because what I long to know in my walk with God is complete unrestraint. No barriers. No walls. Just him. All of him. All of him just like he is. Just like a man dying of thirst will throw off all restraint to quench his thirst, so, too, would I throw off all restraint to know my God.

And in Jesus, it is possible to do just that. It’s not possible through any religion or system or set of rules or good behavior. It’s possible through Jesus Christ alone. If you’d like to learn more about knowing your Creator, click here.

The Technical
This poem is an English sonnet written in iambic pentameter.  A sonnet is a fourteen line poem, and an English sonnet specifically is a sonnet that contains three quatrains (a quatrain is a four line stanza) with an ending couplet (a two line stanza). The rhyme scheme of this piece is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, in which the last word of the first line rhymes with the last word of the third line and the last word of the second line rhymes with the last word of the fourth line, etc.

As traditional English sonnets work, “Unrestrained” builds a single idea over the course of the piece. Each subsequent set of four lines expands or deepens the singular idea. Here, the focus is on the feeling of longing. Dry ground longs for rain. Cancer ridden patients long for cures. The moon longs for the sun’s light. Each reveals different aspects of the specific feeling of longing I was trying to express.

The image of dry ground longing for rain reveals the barrenness one feels apart from his longing fulfilled. The image of a patient longing for a cure reveals how desperate one feels as long as his longing is left unfulfilled. The image of the moon longing for the sun’s rays reveals the hope and joy that are also associated with awaiting the fulfillment of one’s longing.

Not until the last two lines is it revealed just what this longing is for. The fact that three quatrains were dedicated to building a specific feeling of longing and that only at the end is its object revealed builds, I hope, suspense. By the time the reader gets to the end, I wanted him or her to be asking, “Just what in the world could this desperate person possibly be desiring to fill such an obvious aching of soul?” And then, in a word, the object of such a hunger is revealed.

It’s Jesus.

It’s always Jesus.

Only he can satisfy the insatiable craving of this soul. Praise God he’s ours if we would have him.

Sought Stream

From hidden springs up high on mountain’s crest,
Enshrouded by dense wood and morning mist,
And found where none but stalwart men persist,
There flows a stream whose waters offer rest,
New life, and satisfaction to repressed
And hopeless travelers who dare subsist
On its cool flow alone, who won’t desist,
Though all their wealth, for it, be dispossessed.
The pilgrim longing for life’s fountainhead
Embarks upon a journey fraught with spite,
For most consider his sought stream as dead
And paths to it too strenuous to fight.
God grant this desperate traveler grace widespread,
For you’re the stream I seek on mountain’s height.

© 2011 Eric Evans

God Come

God.

God is.

God is good.

God is good and holy.

God is good, holy, and loving.

God is good, holy, loving, and wise.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so come.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so come to him.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so run to him.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so run to him and not away from him.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so run to him and not away from him when it hurts.

When it hurts, God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise,

even when you aren’t able perceive it, so run to him and not away from him.

When it hurts, run to the God who is infinitely good, holy, loving and wise,

and not away from him,

even when you aren’t able to perceive

his goodness, his holiness, his love, and his wisdom.

Even when you aren’t able to perceive God, God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise,

so run to him and not away from him when it hurts.

Even when you aren’t able to perceive God when it hurts,

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise,

so run to him and not away from him.

Run to God and not away from him when it hurts because God is infinitely good, holy,

loving, and wise, even when you can’t perceive it.

Flea to God with all your mind and don’t you dare run away from him when it hurts

because God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise,

even when you can’t perceive him.

Run to the infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely wise, and infinitely loving God

when it hurts instead of running away from him, even if you can’t perceive him.

Run to the infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely wise, and infinitely loving God

instead of running away from him, even if you can’t perceive him when it hurts.

God is infinitely good when it hurts,

infinitely holy when it hurts,

infinitely loving when it hurts,

and infinitely wise when it hurts,

even when you aren’t able perceive it,

so run to him and not away from him.

God is infinitely good when it hurts, even if you aren’t able to perceive it;

infinitely holy when it hurts, even if you aren’t able to perceive it;

infinitely loving when it hurts, even if you aren’t able to perceive it;

and infinitely wise when it hurts, even if you aren’t able to perceive it;

so run to him and not away from him.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so run to him and not away from him when it hurts.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t able to perceive it,

so run to him and not away from him.

God is infinitely good, holy, loving, and wise,

even when you aren’t,

so run to him and not away from him.

God is good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t,

so run to him and not away from him.

God is good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t, so run to him.

God is good, holy, loving, and wise, even when you aren’t, so come to him.

God is good, even when you aren’t, so come to him.

God is good, so come to him.

God is good, so come.

God is, so come.

God, come.

Come.

 

© 2011 Eric Evans

Fall

Spirit of God, sweet holy rushing fire,
Fall fast upon this soul and draw it higher.
Up where your glories storm and ever flow.
Where I may stand consumed in your fierce glow,
Where love dwells not opposed to awestruck fear,
Where you, though Lord on high, walk sweetly near.
Forever by your sight may I be led,
Your ever-present hand upon my head.
Hemming my steps behind, before, beside,
You, raging Torch of God, my steadfast Guide.
Unbridled, thund’ring tide, pour out your pow’r.
Resist no longer; come this very hour.
Fill up this cup and overflow its rim.
Allow me deeper in your depths to swim
And only ever more of you to know
Though knowing you be hard and its path slow.

© 2011 Eric Evans

Plastic Pleasures

So please replace
my plastic pleasures,
substituting them
for everlasting
weights of glory.
And I’ll not mourn
the loss of fading trinkets,
though I lose them all,
if in their place my God
affords to me the boundless
riches of his grace
and kindness
in his Son,
the Christ.

© 2011 Eric Evans

I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow

by John Newton (1725-1807)

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Innocence Lost, Glory Gained

Behind those eyes of yours so brown,
At times I catch a future frown
That may one day replace your cheer
As life’s dark side begins to rear
Its ugly head and youth’s sun sets.
From weathered heartache, mounting debts,
Crushed, awe-filled dreams, depressing loss,
Adult’s drab glower spreads across
One’s face like gangrene takes a toe,
A marring rot, one cruel and slow.
The sickness works to guarantee
That beautiful transparency
Is colored in with ashes charred—
Blinds drawn, walls up, doors locked, heart barred.
It binds once unbound liberty
And casts faith out on doubt’s dark sea.
Bright, vibrant wonder dims to gray,
Becoming cynicism’s prey.
An openness, once unashamed,
Is turned to shadowed secrets chained
Within a nervous heart that fears
Another’s judgments, jokes, or jeers.

Oh, precious eyes of yours so brown,
I fear that maturation’s frown
May soon assail your innocence
And turn youth’s tune to dissonance.

And yet, brown eyes, I’m not content
To leave you sheltered, ignorant
Of life’s disturbing truths of pain,
For glimpses of the Lamb once slain
And genuine perceptions of
The greatness of the Father’s love
Are offered just to those who bear
Hatred of sin’s consuming snare.
So don’t be blind, dear child, of all
Adulthood has in store; man’s fall
And all its horrors rightly seen
Will drive your soul to Christ pristine.
So I will not bemoan the find
Of sin’s sick cancer of the mind
If such a grim discovery
Compels your soul’s recovery
And leads you to the cross. May ills
Constrain your search for him who kills
The sin that robbed your virgin smile
And beautifies each sin-caused trial,
For he is joy though grownup’s frown
Has dashed young hopes of eyes so brown.

© 2011 Eric Evans

Imploring God to Hear My Plea

Imploring God to hear my plea,
I weep to see my life awry.
I beg him do some work in me.

When truth lies naked on my knee,
I whimper, “Wicked flesh must die,”
Imploring God with desperate plea.

From such a death sin bids me flee,
And flesh, persuaded, would soon fly,
Escaping God’s grim work in me.

With mind awhirl on storm-tossed sea,
I bow to God, suspicious, wry,
Doubting God would hear my plea.

It’s ’neath the cross I come to see
The beauty of the call to die
And yield to God’s sweet work in me.

So though the Spirit hews this tree
And would my arrogance belie,
God, I implore you, hear my plea.
I beg you do this work in me.

© 2011 Eric Evans