Broken in the Light

In a dream once
I knew I was dreaming
so I ventured
from the storyline
and entered a cave.
Deep within
was a mirror
and I wanted to see myself,
what I was like
in this deep, inner place.
What I saw was twisted,
my body set in shadows,
scarred
and dry and wilting
like a plant,
head hanging down,
eyes empty and glazed.
I have seen him since,
in those moments
taken off guard
I let the mask slip.
I’ve spent my life avoiding him,
dressing up in the clothes
of better men,
wearing the words
of the healthy.
The secret I did not know,
all these years,
this broken, inner man
was the only one
who could approach the throne
of God.
Hidden in darkness
he was starved of life.
But these days he has begun
to surface,
the ice of pretension
melting and snapping off him
and he is at once terrible
and beautifully illumined
by the light that holds him.

(This poem is about being open and authentic before God. As long as we are wearing a mask or putting up a front, we don’t let anyone in, especially God. It’s about getting in touch with ourselves, especially our well-guarded inner scars and letting them come out into the light, so God can heal us. This is the spirit and real purpose of the Christian practice of confession in my opinion.)

Peace in Failure

I think there is peace
in failure,
when it finally appears,
no longer looming
darkly in the distance,
when it comes
with its toothless bite.
I tried so hard
to keep it away,
but it was always closing the gap.
I need it to be okay,
so I can stop fighting,
stop trying to prove
that I am good enough
when I am not.
Failure is a dark creature,
but it holds a mirror
and when it catches up to you,
you see yourself as you are.
I dream of new days,
heavenly days,
with roaring smiles
under golden sunbeams.
But the journey must begin
with the man that I am.

The Way of God

I wanted to write a bit about
the way of God
as I’ve come to discover it.
My way is one of force,
of control, of coercion.
I push, I strain, I work
to defend myself,
to bend others
and the world around me,
to accomplish my aims.
And sometimes my aims are good
and I want to help,
but I find myself in conflict.
My ways don’t work.
And God says,
“my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are my ways your ways.”
His way is not of force
but of surrender,
of mercy,
of long waiting,
of listening,
of prayer,
of trust.
God made the heavens and the earth,
but not through force;
the book of Hebrews tells us
he made it all by faith.
He called it into being by words,
by his prayers.
and he forms us inside
to help us grow,
not with the twisting of hands
but a gentle touch,
a call and a whisper,
a leading into the open meadow of his grace.

Humility

God does not desire perfection
in the first place.
In fact, if you were perfect
in yourself
you would have no need for God.
It is not a failure
to have to depend upon God,
because he is the source of perfection.
But what we do need
is humility.
This is something God can work with,
if we are honest
with ourselves and God,
if we are open
about our faults.
The scripture teaches that God
opposes the proud
but shows favour to the humble,
that he raises up
not the one who is confident
in his own righteousness
but the one who is contrite in spirit,
who can barely look up to God
but casts himself upon divine mercy.
As Jesus said,
the healthy do not need a doctor
but the sick.
We do not need to be afraid of our sin.
Sometimes we want to hide.
It’s a defense mechanism.
But God already sees you,
down to your innermost being.
Let yourself be seen in the light,
in all your naked ugliness.
Know that you are not doing just fine
without him.
Know that you need him.
Lay your head down at his feet,
because those who bring themselves low
God raises up.

‘When Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor,
He told them a parable:
“When you are invited to a wedding banquet,
do not sit in the place of honor,
in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited.
Then the host who invited both of you will come and tell you,
‘Give this man your seat.’
And in humiliation, you will have to take the last place.

But when you are invited, go and sit in the last place,
so that your host will come and tell you,
‘Friend, move up to a better place.’
Then you will be honored in front of everyone at the table with you.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:7-11)

A Proud Man

A proud man cannot love God.
He loves to see himself attending church
and being seen to do good.
When he prays, he doesn’t look to God
but delights in seeing himself pray.
He loves how he sounds when he talks about God,
but he doesn’t love God
because he doesn’t really know God’s love for him
and he doesn’t really know himself.
When you walk with God
you are walking with the brightest light
you have ever known.
It is a light that is never blocked
and never casts shadows.
It is a light that permeates all.
Walking in such a light,
in the presence of such perfection
you see what a broken man you really are
and have always been,
only you could never face up to it soberly.
And in that moment of terror,
knowing that you deserve nothing,
God’s love around you
glows like a warm fireplace
all the more.
And you know that you have never
been loved like this,
when you see how much he has known
of your brokenness,
how he has seen down into the depths of your heart
and knows the darkness there
yet loves you completely
with an invincible promise.
Then you will love God.