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.

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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.

Unrestrained

As parched earth thirsts for long-belated rain
Beneath a cloudless sky and searing heat,
Where grassland now has turned to desert plain
And even scorpions long since did retreat—
As cancer’s victim yearns with anxious hope
For medicine of men to find a cure,
With forecasts grim and cures beyond man’s scope,
And nothing, though he fight, might he procure—
As moon desires sun’s resplendent rays
That she might bask in glory’s golden glow
And sing without restraint the sun’s due praise
While her black rock illumines white as snow—
So, too, sweet Jesus, do I long for you.
Your presence fills dead souls and makes them new.

© 2011 Eric Evans