Gas on Good Friday

God locked me out of my car tonight while getting gas. All that separated me and my keys, phone, and wallet was a window. It could have been cinder blocks, but God thought it’d be more humorous if I could see my life’s possessions inches from my face but out of reach.

No, there wasn’t a magnificent hand from the clouds that shut my car door behind me. Of course I locked myself out. (Accidentally.) But God had sovereignty over it, just as he tells which winds for the dandelions to surrender to. Any moment he pauses my little plans is a reminder that he has a far better blueprint rolled out on his royal table.

I still freaked out inside, and maybe kicked myself for such a silly mistake. I’m not the clumsy brother after all. So I got the clerk inside the Circle K station to help me out. She was wonderfully nice, dialing every number I needed and handing me the shop phone. The police wouldn’t offer to jimmy the lock, and then the locksmith said it would roughly cost $80-100 for his service–steeper than usual because it’s Good Friday.

Then I remembered I had parents. Mom and dad! You only live, like, 50 minutes away and have my spare key!

Waiting almost an hour for my dad to come to the station, I searched my thoughts outside. Then I searched for my phone, remembering it was locked away. I went back to my mind and prayed out loud. Did that lady see me talking to myself? Then I looked for my phone again, wanting to call my girlfriend or write down a song idea. Stop and enjoy the calm. You don’t need to be distracted.

For thirty minutes I just sat curbside, a buzzing highway behind me and a florescent British Petroleum sign in front of me. People came and went, pumping gas and washing their cars. A young couple made out quickly at the pump (Why?), a scary looking dude held open the door for a beautiful black family, and most cars coming through held only one person. A colony of ants were distributing food among each other below my feet, and further underground were probably thousands of gallons of squeezed dinosaur juice that will soon propel aluminum wagons upwards of 80 mph. Life is weird, but it’s also numbing. We forget to just stop.

What’s even weirder to me is that the one who created life did so just because he wanted to. Those people, with all their scars, give him joy and sorrow. He cares for those ants. How small! The darkening sky above me? Dude, he painted that for us! Fossil fuel? Actually, I don’t know how he feels about that. He did create the sun and the winds first.

I need to stop more often. I don’t have 24 hours in any given day, I’m given them. I’m just glad he gave me one to sit on concrete, stare at people, and praise him for dying on our behalf 2,000 freaking years ago! Good Friday indeed.

II. Song of the Land

hiker

READ PART ONE / PART THREE TO COME…

The waters shrink back and the dove does not return
All the trees of the field clap when dead hearts start to burn
Rolling hills roll their tongues and mountains sing in joy
An atmosphere in my lungs: a man now walks, no longer a boy

Let the land burst into song before me,
for silenced is that lonesome sea
But beyond the coast a many unpaved road
begging wayfarers a burdensome load
The days will threaten, nights then beckon

Why must trouble exist up on the surface,
and I be left to question my purpose?
Yet the dogwoods continue in praise,
causing wonder for the rest of my days
What rules your heart does not rule in part

Through the clanging cymbals’ noise
listen for the loveliest of humble voice
You tell me to rejoice at trouble’s trumpets
for it cannot compare to any sunlit summit
Today might be stained, but it’s all so feigned

So I will hold on to what is good here
as a promise that our day is coming near
Once I wished to breathe in this land’s air,
now you tell me to another I’m an heir
Though beauty’s shone, this world’s not my home

That is the song of the land: that all will be made new
A hope so strange to man that any fantasy may be true
Let those Blue Mountains boast and the birds of the air sing loud
When descends the host of hosts and humbled are men too proud

All of creation be his evidence
And all of creation be emulous

I. Silent Waters

silent-waters

READ PART TWO / PART THREE TO COME

I was dead,
At the bottom of the ocean
No heart nor head,
lifeless and ruled by her emotion
I would walk the ocean floor
not knowing a breath of fresh air
The sea, she’s sunken ship and more
She’s captured many a men into her lair

I would say I was drowning,
but I already had no pulse
No hope in rescue, I was surely doubting
Stories of the surface seem so false
I begged and begged for some sure face,
but leagues below there is no sound
Dive on in, if you can find me in this place,
for leagues below is my burial ground

I could scream for life, but leagues below the waters are silent
Death be my wife, and together our daughters are violent

If you ask how I ended up here
I went off course, thrown overboard
My selfish pride would let not the captain steer,
and out on the seas my soul grew star-bored
I searched for singing sirens and tempting pearls,
was given over to sea lions and wicked girls (rip curls)
And I was dead, no heart nor head,
ruled by emotion in this unrelenting ocean

Then he came and the floods subsided
Then he spoke and that’s when I decided
not to be a boy aboard his own sinking ship
No, I no longer rely on my own shrinking grip
Let me no longer fear the force of the waves—
He is to raise me a man from the depth of the grave
Oh, how sweet this air tastes in my lungs,
to finally hear a song worthy to be sung

What love: the defeated waters silent—not even a whisper—
and now I walk upon the sea, forgiven though a drifter!

Original poem of Silent Waters.

You Will Touch 80,000 Lives

This article originally appeared on DesiringGod.org here.


There is something about the truth that causes people to tremble, look in awe, and become overwhelmed all at the same time.

If you surrender your life over to Jesus and walk with him for your fullest joy, then you might understand this. The truth of Christ means responsibility rests on your shoulders: you see strangers and loved ones trying to quench a deep, internal thirst in a world that — without Jesus — is salt water. With the realization that life is meant to glorify the Lord, you can’t help but weep at the sight of unbelief and fading lives.

The overwhelming truth is how many don’t know Jesus, how many are living eternally insignificant lives. How can we cope with a reality that bleak?

An 80,000-Fold Influence

Let’s say that a person meets an average of two to three people a day. Assuming the average life span is roughly eighty years, this means that the average person will encounter somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 people in their life. The football stadium at the University of North Carolina, where I am a student, houses 62,980 people.

Imagine if you walked into this stadium at the end of your life. One by one the seats are all filled with old and strangely familiar faces, memories flooding back to you until the crowd starts to pour over onto the field. You have met each person here, though many were only for a single moment. Each person represents at least one opportunity you had to influence the trajectory of his life. Your life will impact the world through thousands of people, who will, in turn, impact millions.

What would you say to each person now if you had the chance? What would you say to your mother, your high school girlfriend, the custodian that held the door open for you at work last week?

The Weight of Love

Eighty-thousand opportunities for influence is a significant role for anyone, but only Christians can understand a narrative like this. God purposefully created every person to enjoy relationship with him (Genesis 1:26–27; 2 Corinthians 6:16–18), but every person sins and falls short (Romans 3:23). Nevertheless, we hope in that Creator who sent his Son, Jesus Christ, and paid for the sins that separated us (Romans 3:24). He died and rose again, acting not only as the pinnacle of human history, but as life-bringing change for individual lives (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Either these events are miraculous history or legendary tale — of all importance or no importance at all.

The gospel is the truth that causes us to tremble, to look with weighty awe. The weight upon any gospel-impacted heart is the weight of love. It is a love for those 80,000 people — for the countless cashiers, the homeless encountered on the street, the neighbors we met once and the neighbors that frequent our dinner tables, the siblings at our sides.

Christians of all people should be pitied if our hope for the fullness of joy and the eternal pleasures of God’s presence in a new, stainless creation held no water (1 Corinthians 15:19). But we know the truth and, therefore, our pity overflows with love for those who don’t know it yet. Jesus came to die to give every sinner a future, and he came for every saint with a past. Therefore, we weep for the unbeliever. We weep for the friends and family who could overflow a thousand stadiums that still haven’t heard the good news.

The truth is heavy, but we cannot look away. Why? Because Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). These 80,000 cannot hear without being told. Who is to tell them, then? You are, Christian (Romans 10:14–15).

To the Laborers

This task seems unbearably heavy. But our hope is found in the Lord, who loves to employ his children in the mission to bring everyone into his arms. Whether yours is a lifetime of twenty years or eighty, you are working the harvest. Christianity began in the hands of a few: the news of Jesus’s resurrection was entrusted at first to just three women (Mark 16:1).

As individual believers awaken to their joyful responsibility, the masses await. A lifetime has the potential of impacting tens of thousands of lives. Your impact on most may be no more than a tiny ripple in the ocean of their lives, but together with the faithful ripples of others, there is hope for a tidal wave that will finally bring them to God’s shores.

Paul’s ministry focused on a few, discipling them to embrace Jesus and, in turn, to disciple a handful. The Great Commission to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth has snowball-like momentum. It is time to pray and act for great numbers to come to Christ. It is time to see stadiums full of love, not a message left tragically unsaid.

This is Spirit-filled optimism born in the midst of sober realism. Though he is not with us now in body, he has promised greater things to be done by us through his Spirit than what he accomplished in his thirty-three years on earth (John 16:7; Acts 1:8).

The truth may be overwhelming. The responsibility is great. But the Lord’s friendship sustains, and the power he provides is greater than every obstacle we face in this mission.

Answers

Mntns

What is this life
but a solemn and playful trek,
all serious and all play,
up the blue mountain?
Is each rut in routine
not a switchback higher?
Is every setback and failure
not another walk in beauty?
Is each opportunity and success
not a moment further to peak?

What are time’s ticking hands
but a careful Craftsman’s
refining the clay in fire,
and to nature what is time
but a season of drought
and a season of flood?
Why must man’s heart ache
in both pain and abundance?
Why not dance in the sun
and sing to the moon?

And what is this life
but a minute to eternity?
And what of time
to that which surrounds it?
What is sin to redemption
and silence to mention?
What is loneliness to being known
and what is poverty to promises?
Why should a mirror exist
when there is the echoing creation?

How could a cosmic whisper
roar louder than the world’s raving?
What is life but a slave to time?
What is time but a passage of water
reuniting to its oceans?
What then is life but
not also returning?
Who then are we to hear
the silent waters, pointing
us back home?

Paperback Scratches

If life were a sequence of words
I think it’d be fair for the whole story to be italicized,
for every ounce of ink stresses worth, every ounce prized

But then again, what’d be the effect?
Italics would become normal, and you’d read right past
their significance, never admitting you’re reading too fast

Remember what happened in chapter four?
Maybe you were rushed to the hospital, being kept alive
You couldn’t wait until you got to chapter five

But the next pages brought more scars
Maybe your heart was broken and needed a fix,
yours a tragedy and it was just chapter six

If you could know the author, would you?
Would you not storm him with questions, asking
“Why would you write such a story and go on laughing?”

And he’d merely reply,
“If only you could have seen the next chapter,
then you’d be joining in on the laughter!”

You can see both chapters clearly now
and you go right on by reading past the resolution,
assuming the pain of chapter four is the conclusion

Only from pages and pages later
are you able to look back and see the ink drying
In awe of who you are now, simultaneously laughing and crying

All the better from the suffering
You’re like a tree etched with lovers’ marks,
its branches full of songbirds and singing larks

The writer has to scratch the paper
if he is to write a grand story such as yours
Continue on past the thickets and sores

Paperback books must be bent
if they’re ever to be read and enjoyed
Mind the creases and corners destroy’d

Little do we know
that there’s even a second book being written
of all triumph and nothing sour nor smitten

Thought Soup / 02

A stream of consciousness, or more like a bowl of alphabet soup spelling out my thoughts. Number two. Title idea: Opposite of Writer’s Block.

I want to write again
but no one’s ever told me how
I want to run a marathon
but that requires a mile right now
I want to see the light of day
but the blinds are drawn
I want to see her freckled face
but I won’t stay ’til dawn

I would much rather meet her already
but, you see, there are butterflies
And I would tell you of my heart
but they’ve convinced me otherwise

I don’t want to choke on the questions
when I try to tell you Life’s answers
I don’t want to be weighed down by mortality
when I’ve been freed among the dancers
I don’t want to listen to the world’s whispers
when I know I drown out the Lion’s roars
I don’t want to be left walking the earth
when I was made regal to ride on all fours

I would much rather sleep in
but nooses are made of bed sheets
And I would tell you of my past
but the devil still reminds me I’m weak

I want to write again
but this is not in my control
I am not the Writer
and that devil sure isn’t whole!