Help me, O Lord, delight in all Your ways;
Teach me, O King, to keep your perfect Law.
For only once did sin hang from a limb
Such tempting fruit, fair begging to be plucked
So plucked it was – devoured by the lips
Against that first decree from Heaven giv’n.
And now the sin resides within the limbs
Growing from each heart’s deep, black, fertile soil
Needing no tree, no garden can contain:
It’s grasping, festering rot consumes the world.
Consumes! It writhes! Yet when the rock exclaims –
Such thought brings joy to heart and hope to mind –
The rock cries out, not pain, but worships still
The very One who formed it from the void.
To call my heart a stone insults Your world,
Your Word giv’n form: O, give such form to me!
Would that I obeyed simply as the wood
As perfect in my state as soaring oak.
Yet at such thought, another trembles mind
The image of Your son upon that tree –
A hope in blood that lifts pure sinner’s prayers
From hearts, renewed, as Eden soon will be.
Teach me, O King, to keep your perfect Law;
Help me, O Lord, delight in all Your ways.
-Charles Baldon, March 2013
I reach beyond the night to touch the stars,
To find my feet walk high above the earth;
And in a moment’s life my heart soars high
Drawn as a moth to flame in heaven’s hearth.
What is this fire? This flame? That men should strive,
and hope, and give their lives toward but a glimpse?
‘Tis heaven’s heart that mine own seeks to touch
A humble joining of my life to His;
Yet as each peaceful soul lends its own spark
Unto a light all mortal men must see,
I find that I sought not to touch the stars
But that the stars sought out, and reached to me.
-Charles Baldon, May 1994
The promise of the Gospel is, as Lewis said, that death itself begins to work backwards. Death to the man who dies in rebellion is the end of everything good, for with his final breath all hope flees and the night looms eternal; death to the regenerate man is simply the end of sin, both in the giving and the receiving. Sin, and nothing more.
The real living follows the dying.
For this He died: that you, my friend, might truly live.
Published this day with dedication to Candice.
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
-William Shakespeare, “Sonnet XXIX” (Shakespeare’s Sonnets)
Just saw this film last night, and you should go, either to the play or its cinematic equivalent. Law and grace are on center stage, thinly disguised by the names Javert and Valjean. Their various collisions make for heart-wrenching, heart-warming drama.
Be warned: you will cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow; there is deep value to both.
For this is what the Most High says to all who come before him on their knees. Having robbed Him blind, of His glory, of the obedience that is His right and His will for us… he forgives, the Son having taken our punishment in our place. And He doesn’t simply forgive, which by itself would be astonishing: He tells us we forgot to take the candlesticks, too. Our seat on the galley bench remains empty forevermore.
After all these years, grace is still amazing.
I have seen a thing under the sun:
I have seen a man crave knowledge and give all he has to find it.
I have seen a man gain more than he knows, for beyond the knowledge itself, he gains another gift: the lust to know more. The gift sought brings pleasure for a time; the gift unsought brings devastation.
I have seen this tale of achievement become a tale of tragedy: I stood in the rain as a defeated man lay back down in dust at the end of life, knowing only his despair that he does not yet truly know.
I have seen truth: there has always been, there will always be, another thing to know.
I have wondered at this thing under the sun, for knowing so rarely leads to wisdom.
I have pondered a deeper truth: could it be that the knowledge yearned for by the head destroys the one who gains it absent the mystery sought by the heart?