O gem of all surpassing worth

O gem of all-surpassing worth,
O Lord of all my heart,
Forgive me for not giving You
What I should have since the start.

I owe You everything,
You are my All in All
You guide me gently on my path
And catch me when I fall.

How then could I turn from You
To chase foolish vanities?
Why does my love so wax and wane
Like a ship tossed on the seas?

Why do I doubt You, Saviour God?
And give ear to the devil’s lies?
Why does my fretful selfish heart
Turn from You in reckless pride?

Yet, Your mercy’s ever-flowing,
Your arms are open wide,
I know I’m cleansed by the blood that streamed
From the cross on which You died.

I cannot comprehend such love
For such a wicked one as I,
Why for me should the Holy One,
The King of Heaven, die?

O Jesus, Precious Risen Lord,
Great Saviour, Loving King,
Teach me to love You more each day,
And through all, Your praises sing.

Discipline my fickle heart,
Bring me back to You.
Teach me to hunger for the day
When all will be made new.

And I will see Your glorious face
Shining brighter than the sun
What joy then to worship, for all time,
The Lord Jesus, the Holy One.

28/4/2013

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Beauteous One

Gentle smile,
warm embrace,

Merry laughter,
familiar face,

Act of kindness,
singing voice,

Blazing sunrise,
brave man’s choice,

Misty hill,
sparkling sea,

Things that are and that will be,

Mercy’s hand,
in darkness shown,

Seeds of truth
in good earth sown

Forgiveness’ fair face,
shafted sunlight in a wood,

flashes of glory,
dim-lit images of good.

Stop there if you will,
But please, perceive with me,
the echo of His footsteps here,
as just part of the key.

Turn your eyes to the setting sun,
with ears to hear, and eyes to see;
Gaze with me at the Beauteous One.

In the mother who shelters you safe from a storm,
In the lover who holds you close and warm,
See the Beauteous One.

In the father who prays with his children at night,
In friendship which brings a warm glow like a light,
See the Beauteous One.

In the loving hand that wipes your tears,
In the voice that stills all frets and fears
See the Beauteous One.

Yet will I turn my face to You, O Beauteous One?
How good You are to me, how good,
unrestrained in love!

Yours the provision
that amazes me still
Yours the power
to empty or fill

Yours the giver, and those who receive,
Yours the brokenhearted, Yours those who bleed,
Yours the self-reliant, the arrogant and proud,
Yours the turning, of the lost into found.

Yours the perfection
You traded for my brokenness!
Hear me when I say,
that I freely must confess:

Mine was the cross You carried,
mine the guilt, mine the shame,
mine the insult-laden, mocking voice;
My back should have borne the blame

of the torture whip, of the crown of thorns,
Oh! see what I have done!
the marks of the nails that marred the wrists
of Jesus, the Beauteous One.

For me?
Dare I believe it?
Because You said so – yes,
Praise to the name of the Beauteous One!
For all time, let it be said

That Yours is the victory over death,
over guilt, and shame, and sin,
Yours the resurrection in glorious pow’r,
so I might be welcomed in.

Not of my own account,
but by His vict’ry won,
So it may not be I but Christ in me,
The living, shining Son.

Lord Jesus, Beauteous One,
why are You so good to me?

I fall, falter, build not on rock but sand,
I walk on water; tho’ when I sink,
in pride, I oft refuse Your merciful hand…

Yet You love me with a Love I cannot buy,
Thank You, Jesus, but sometimes I wonder – why?
Then I remember…

You know me, yet You love me, and You’ve paid the cost,
‘The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’.

Third Culture Kid

Where are you from?
I don’t know.
Well, you must be from somewhere!
Is that so?

Where do you consider ‘home’?
Man, if I only knew…
Which country did you like the most?
I don’t know, so I can’t tell you.

So do you speak a lot of languages?
Is it bad if I say no?
Was it weird always moving around?
Well, it was my whole life, so….

Did you ever want a normal life?
Tell me, what’s normal, eh?
I mean, always staying in one place?
Nah – I love being a TCK!

Train musings (haibun)

I hear trains from my room at night.

You hear them signalling, echoing, screeching to a shuddering halt; the noises bring to mind your own experiences aboard them. Travelling back from Shenzhen on a sleeper bed in a crowded, stifling carriage that reeks of cigarette smoke and the overpowering stench of binlang. Dimly, as a way of passing the time, you try to decide which smell is worse.

that terrible sweet smell

rotten flesh and fruit combined

could it be worse?

You almost roll off the bunk when the train grinds to a sloo-oo-ow stop beneath you in a way that shakes to your very bones, connecting your body to the train’s hulking mass in a metallic mimicry of the feeling of the tightening and relaxing of human bodies that have, in times past, embraced yours.

too long have I tarried away

how I long for home

and my own soft bed!

You are locked in the belly of this great metal beast, accompanied by hacking coughs and the sound of phlegm hitting the floor, as those around you engage in this cultural practice of evacuating the nostrils and throat that is so different to the diffident tissue-users back home.

could I ever convey exactly

the cold shivers down my spine

when that sound reaches my ears?

You lie in the darkness, praying for sleep to come, trying to ignore the old women gossiping loudly in their native tongue somewhere by your feet and attempting to ignore the sensation in your lower stomach that grimly informs you that you will, again, be obliged to frequent the p*** hole that passes for a toilet on this metal monster.

perhaps indeed that is

one cultural boundary

I shall never overcome

‘well some nights I wish that this all would end’ a voice in your earbuds croons as you turn once more, trying not to think about how clean, or not, the duvet is. At least I have a blanket, you reassure yourself, recalling with amazed horror the woman and child you encountered sifting through the rubbish bins of the station while men and women passed by in business suits.

how pitiful, how sad she was

barely raising her head for kindness

expecting none from fellow men

Awkwardly your lips frame a prayer, even as thoughts of a warm hot shower threaten to push her from your mind. You know she won’t leave though. She and the child in her arms will be one of your enduring memories of the city you have clattered away from several hours ago.  You’ll take that with you, an image of guilt and shame and the human cost of the development manifested in the efficient, if not smooth, train ride back to your place of work.

Isn’t it crazy how we humans do it?

we ignore the suffering ones for

a few years’ electronic pleasure

 

Oh, but I’m as guilty as you are,

we’re all part of the problem

(and of the solution?)

 

Perhaps.

King of Hearts

Why do we think, so often,

That we can read people’s hearts

From who they seem to be?

A typical ‘lad’

With bravado and swagger,

Acts like God’s gift to the laydeez of the town,

Downs shots in the club till oblivion claims him

why?

To cover his broken heart

to escape the pain of not being

who she wanted him to be

and to run away

from himself

whereas she,

yes, the one ‘dressed like a hooker’

she’s looking for love, you know

though it might not look like it.

She rifles through men like dresses in a closet

and not one of them fits

not one of them flatters or is kind

and so her little-girl fantasies die

one painful dream-death after another.

And he,

That lonely tramp sitting on the park bench

muttering to himself,

no-one knows what he’s been through,

why he’s clutching a broken dead rose

as though it is a lifeline.

Everyone avoids him, with mingled pity and scorn

truth be told

so do I

because, it is true,

I make these kinds of judgements about people

In fact,

the most judgemental person I know

is me, myself, and I.

So it is as much to myself as to you I speak

when I say

we have no right

to judge them.

Judgement, you might think,

is an outworn word,

not a 21st century phrase

we don’t ‘judge’, we ‘tolerate’.

Do we?

then why do people like me

still think and speak

poisonous words?

Is’t not true that

our opinions are formed merely on what we see,

and we do not understand the deepest levels

even of our friends?

Only One in this universe

knows the depths of a person’s heart,

only One

can see to the very centre of things

and we are blind, deaf and dumb

where He picks up on

the tiniest butterfly-wing stirring

within each soul.

I know

because He sees my shame

my worst thoughts, and my

most evil deeds

Believe you me, there is a lot of that to be seen…

And yet

He loves me so crazily

that He’d die for me.

There is no greater, wider, deeper, higher love

than that of Him who dies for His enemies

to make them His friends.

King of hearts, so humble me

to know that I am no heart-reader,

I cannot even begin to try.

King of hearts, bring me to my knees

in awe of Your love

so beautiful and free

and break my judgemental heart in two

so that broken, this vessel,

might receive

So much more of You.

Yours Alone

I lay
suspended in embryonic comfort
and unseen hands,
sculpted my very being.
This was my introduction, to You.

When daylight flared with the rising sun
it was the way You’d planned it.

All through those
sunshine, bare feet and laughter days,
those tears and tantrums days
You were with me.

When I was surrounded by loving comfort and peace,
nestled in the warmth of a parent’s embrace,
it was the way You’d planned it.

In all those lonely days of hurt and defiance,
silently sullen at school,
and in the magical times of familial comfort
and times of wonder,
yes, I knew You were with me

When Your Spirit filled me as the sun set
it was the way You’d planned it.

And when my world broke down on me,
dissolving in a mist of lies and futile pain,
when I didn’t want You near
– You were too bright, too holy –
Yet You were with me.

When I’d cried myself dry, couldn’t get up off my knees,
this was the way You’d planned it

to draw me back to You.

When it’s dark
and I am cold,
I will look to the Cross and know
that You gave up everything for me,
though You did not have to.

When the warm sun lingers in the west
kissing my face, and I hear the laughter
of family and friends,
I’ll look again to the Cross, and know
that all I am and have
is Yours alone.

I am Yours alone;
this is the way You planned it.

Birthday Thunderstorm

The summer air is hot and heavy,
scented by the approach of a storm,
that smell of coolness in the searing heat that brings
such an aching desire for the skies to burst open like an overripe fruit
and spill its succulence everywhere.

I, impatient birthday girl,
run barefoot out onto our back lawn
throwing off restraint as I go.

The trees are dancing, the wind is gusting,
the bellying black clouds are overhead,
pregnant with promise

and then

the lightning strikes,
and I gasp and whirl
around in just enough time to see it strike,
like a snake lunging out of dry grass.

Then comes the thunder; elemental, rich, majestic,
echoing like the sound of giants moving furniture,
thrilling my soul with rejoicing
at such untameable force, that will always remain
mysterious.

So I close my eyes and throw back my head
as the rain comes
soaking me through and through,
and falling on my face,
my eyelashes, cheeks, and lips,
curved upwards in a smile.

The life-giving streams course down from heaven,
and, laughing helplessly at the wonder of it all,
I begin to dance.