Late Have I Loved You

Late have I loved You
O beauty every ancient, ever new!
Late have I loved You
And behold,
You were within; and I without,
and without I sought You.
And deformed I ran after these forms
of beauty You have made.
You were with me
And I was not with You.
Those things held me back from You,
things whose only being
was to be in You.
You called; You cried;
and You broke through my deafness.
You flashed; You shone;
and you chased away my blindness.
You became fragrant;
and I inhaled and sighed for You.
I tasted
and now hunger and thirst
for You.
You touched me;
and I burned for Your embrace.

 

-St. Augustine

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Easter

Easter

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise
                                                  Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
                                                  With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
                                                  With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
                                                  Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
                                                  Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
                                                  And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

 

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

 

-George Herbert, from 1633

A True Hymn

 A TRUE HYMN              (George Herbert)

MY Joy, my Life, my Crown!
My heart was meaning all the day,
                        Somewhat it fain would say,
And still it runneth muttering up and down
With only this, My Joy, my Life, my Crown!

          Yet slight not those few words;
    If truly said, they may take part
          Among the best in art:
The fineness which a hymn or psalm affords
Is, when the soul unto the lines accord.

          He who craves all the mind,
    And all the soul, and strength, and time,
          If the words only rhyme,
Justly complains that somewhat is behind
To make His verse, or write a hymn in kind.

          Whereas if the heart be moved,
    Although the verse be somewhat scant,
          God doth supply the want ;
As when the heart says, sighing to be approved,
“O, could I love!” and stops, God writeth, “Loved.”

 

(thank you Jon Guerra for the George Herbert recommendation)

The Hound of Heaven

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
             Up vistaed hopes I sped;
             And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
   From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
             But with unhurrying chase,
             And unperturbèd pace,
     Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
             They beat—and a Voice beat
             More instant than the Feet—
     ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

and then he finishes the poem with God saying:

          ‘Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I make much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
          How hast thou merited
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
          Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
          Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
          Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
          All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
          Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

   Halts by me that footfall:
   Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
   ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
   I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

Eden and the lands east of Eden

For those of you who are sadly not in the Enison/Riley/Ciganek small group… Here’s an excerpt from our reference commentary on Genesis:

The Eden mandate calls us to the narrow way of self-sacrificing service, of purity, of practicing God’s presence minute by minute, of worship and adoration.  It does not call for a method; it calls for a lifestyle.  It does not call for establishing a devotional time to touch base with God before we go on with our day; it calls for an attitude that fills our day with God.  Too often, our ‘devotional’ time with God serves as an excuse to neglect him the rest of the day.  Instead, it should help us set the course for being continually mindful of him.  Brother Lawrence again challenges us through his life:

“I have read many books on how to go to God and how to practice the spiritual life.  It seems these methods serve more to puzzle me than to help, for what I sought after was simply how to become wholly God’s.  So I resolved to give all for ALL.  Then I gave myself wholly to God; I renounced everything that was not His.  I did this to deal with my sins, and because of my love for Him.  I began to live as if there was nothing, absolutely nothing but Him.  So upon this earth I began to seek to live as though there were only the Lord and me in the whole world.”

What if we fail in this high ideal?  What if godliness is fleeting and the presence of God is buried so deeply in our souls that we feel we wander the deserts of the Vanity Fairs of this world far from anything we can identify as sacred space in our lives?  Then we must know that God calls us back, guides us, and helps our prayers as we seek to find our way home to the garden.

 

Master, they say that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since you make no replies, it’s all a dream
–One talker aping two.

They are half right, but not as they
Imagine, rather I
Seek in myself the things I mean to say,
And lo!  The wells are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The Listener’s role, and through
My dead lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.

And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talking, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.

 

Yet in the end, we must confess that we know less of Eden than of the lands east of Eden.

~

(From The NIV Application Commentary by Dr. John Walton, poem by CS Lewis, Brother Lawrence “Practicing the Presence of God”)

All the bright lights, and the darkness

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …

Dickens … What a way to start a novel. 

This text comes to mind as I sift through the last few months.  With great change, and great possibility, comes a sense of uncertainty and fear for me.  I don’t think I can speak for everyone, but I know that some of my friends and bandmates have wrestled with the darkness that seems ever closing in on our great Light.  As I press forward in desiring to be a man of God, a better husband, a better musician, a better son, a better friend … I find that my sin and selfishness is equally up to the task of distracting and destroying.

And then a small voice reminds me that I’m called to rest… I’m free to rest.  I am permitted to rest in the Gospel, in the resounding song of the good news of Jesus Christ. 

I’m called to rest in His presence and provision.  He counted each of my sins, knowing my selfishness and desire to impress, understood my shortcomings, he looked on my poverty and my house of idols …

And He said to me, in a strong voice, with authority and finality, “I love you and you are forgiven.”

Each time, each day, that I wander away from His presence, from His restful place for me, that statement is made greater.  I cannot cheapen it, and I cannot change it.

He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul. (ps 23)

He welcomes me into His presence, day by day.

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,  that he might make known his mighty power. (ps 106)

Though I struggle with myself, in these great times, these dark times….

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 cor)

Let me find my rest in the company of saints who ran the race I see before me, who now have complete rest with their Father.  When I find more of the brokenness in my heart, I find more and more the One who is making all things new.  He says He will complete the work He began in me… and in us, in this season of revival.

…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …

Worship is….

Just listened to Tim Keller’s sermon on Worship.  Everyone should take the 45min, and have a mid-week act of worship by listening to this guy teach from the Psalms.  His main ideas are as follows:

Worship is the act of ascribing ultimate worth and value to something or someone. 

Worship must be:

Emotional.  If it doesn’t affect your emotions, it’s not worship.

Rational/Reason.  If the emotion doesn’t stem from an understanding of the value and power and truth of the Living God, it’s not worship.  He gives this amazing illustration of a woman who recently inherited an old piece of jewelry that has been in her family for many, many years.  She decides to take it to an appraiser, even though everyone in the family thinks it’s worthless, if not sentimental.  The jeweler looks at it closely for a minute… then closer… then he is overcome with emotion, realizing that the piece is worth more than all the jewelry in the shop… all the jewelry that’s EVER been in his shop all combined…  It is through his reasoning, his evaluation of the value of the piece, that his emotions overcome him.  That’s our act of worship… seeing the cross, and the resurrected Lord, who freely gives peace and freedom…. and then we sing for joy and with tears.  One can’t be without the other.

Spiritual.  We have to come into “His presence.”  His Spirit is where it’s at. This is charismatic, and it’s all good!

Sabbath Rest.  This is the hefty theological idea.  The Psalmist talks about avoiding the plight of the Israelites in their wandering the wilderness, not able to enter the sabbath rest of the promised land.  But in Hebrews chapter 4, the author writes:  

“8 For if Joshua had given them rest, Godwould not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest….”  There is a rest for us in the kingdom come, which we take part in through the very presence of God, and through the act of worship… ascribing ultimate worth to Jesus, and in turn being transformed and renewed and refreshed and encouraged and corrected and overwhelmed and reduced and grown and hopeful.

Here’s a link to the sermon (also free in podcast form in iTunes):  http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/worship

Here’s the text:

Psalm 95:1-11

English Standard Version (ESV)

Let Us Sing Songs of Praise

95 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
    as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
    and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
    and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
    and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
    “They shall not enter my rest.”

Hebrews 4

English Standard Version (ESV)

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.[a] For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.