After being on the road the last week or so, I spent today in near-complete seclusion. Still drunk on anti-anxiety meds and weary from my flight into the polar vortex last night, I opened up my laptop about 6 a.m. and wrote in the quiet of my kitchen. Here and there I did some reading and sipped some coffee. I didn’t take a bath until 4. Oddly, the last few days are representative of how I feel on the inside. Some days I’m good with being Mr. Personality. But those take a toll on me, and then I’d rather retreat to someplace serene while the world goes on with itself (without me.) I’ve been that way since I was a little guy. I need some space … to need some space. And maybe a few minutes to put words together.
My gift is language, but even so, I will never be able to capture all you are to me.
Flailing with my words, they come out unpolished.
But who can find language beautiful enough for you, Lord.
You, who give us life.
Who accept us as we are.
Who forgive us of all we do.
Who watch us kneel in prayer,
and then go into the world
and do the opposite of what you have for us.
Who pray for your will to be revealed,
and then when we see it,
do all we can to undermine your plans
– even those more incredible than we imagined for ourselves.
I struggle so much to approach you at times.
My sin plays back to me in my mind
and, as imperfect as I am and as perfect as I know you are,
I still can’t imagine you having grace enough for me.
But you do.
Lord, for whatever shortcomings my words present to you,
please accept my posture of prayers as a way to make up for this.
On my knees, head bowed, tears streaming.
I am who you made me to be.
My gift is language,
but even so, I will never be able to capture all you are to me.
All I can do is be genuine:
I love you, Lord. I always will.
No one knows when the end time will come but you, Lord. Your word assures us it will be soon. Until then, we call on you, O’ Mighty God, for a miracle. Scriptures tell us our world must slip into chaos before you return, but please, Lord … first spare the children. The value on their lives is depleted. Ripped from their mothers’ wombs, torn limb from limb, no chance for life. The wicked make it lawful up until the last moments of birth.
Lord, you know how you will sort us – which ones will be swept with the chaff into hell and which ones will be picked from the vine. My brothers and sisters in Christ hope and pray, day and night, that we will be ripe enough for your berry basket. And we know the innocent will be waiting on us is Heaven.
We beg on our hands and knees: send the ones not yet born a reprieve from the evil of this world. From its brutality. Send your angels to fend for them in the mothers’ spirit battles. Set loose a portion of your Holy Army to hold back their demons, Lord.
Darkness clouds our nation. So much evil! We can’t take anymore! Our nation has become unrecognizable, slipping into chaos. We take cover and peer out from our hiding places, huddled in prayer, watching to see you move across the land with power and might. Give us victory from the ones who laugh as they defy you and bring murder upon the most helpless of all your creations.
Lord, we pray for your miracles. Amen.
In my sleep, I called out to the angels. I was pleading with them to visit me again. Over and over, I called until my words became a sort of energy or light for them to follow back to me.
“Hellooo,” I called, to no avail.
“Hellooo,” again, the words finding nothing but darkness.
And then, I heard it. A simple reply from somewhere within my room: “Yes?”
The one word came back firm, but like a question. “What was it I wanted?” it seemed to ask. I wasn’t certain.
Hearing the voice excited me and I instantly woke and sat up. Staring wide-eyed into the darkness, I looked for the angel who called back. There was only shadows in the usual places of my bedroom, and I remembered that I’d been asleep when the voice spoke to me. The angel vanished with my dream. But now he knows where to find me.
I’ll be calling to him tonight and praying to the one who reveals deep and mysterious things. My Lord knows what lies hidden in the darkness.*
Saved by grace, redeemed by love, reclaimed by the hands that made them beautiful.
Dimly lit in candlelight, my room becomes a prayer chamber as the world outside grows dark. By the window, on my hands and knees, I enter the war. Quietly I step onto the battle field with no weapons in my hands, only the words upon my lips that I speak barely above my breath, and yet they rise to be heard in the highest places of Heaven. My room fills up with your presence and my body overflows with your Spirit. Before me my fears begin to fade as I step to the front lines. Facing the enemy, it’s your courage that advances my feet and steadies my march. The opposition begins to fall. At the sight of me, they drop to their knees, some in submission, some in forgiveness, and others fighting your light emanating from my heart. These are the ones I pray for the hardest. “Lord, receive them as you did me, for they know not what they do.” Their souls begin to rise with the prayers being sent up. Saved by grace, redeemed by love, reclaimed by the hands that made them beautiful. My eyes open as my prayers draw to a close for the night. My heart for you, Lord, and the souls of the lost burn on like the flame of the bedroom candle.
Deceive me and watch me become your ally.
Lead me astray, and watch me draw nearer.
The traps you set for me I willingly jump into,
setting off the snare around my own feet.
I refuse to climb out from the deep dark hole
where you capture your prey.
I’m your pet, waiting to do your bidding.
The beliefs I once held so diligently
I cast off at your first tempting.
My weaknesses are so strong,
I am your perfect follower.
I don’t belong to you, and yet I do.
Bind me. Devour me.
I deserve much worse.
Awakening to the morning’s first light,
from far away I hear the shepherd calling.
His voice echoes in the deepest reaches
of the enemy’s lair.
My Lord, you left the entire flock in the valley,
in another land to come searching for me.
Deliberately running away from your ways
didn’t stop you from pursuing me.
Your hand reaches into the recesses of the pit
and, in your palm, I am lifted out.
Stains, torn clothes, dirt:
It matters not to you.
I am reborn, out from the depths of hell
rejoining the flock where you protect me
everywhere I go, day and night.
Anoint me. Keep me in line.
Comfort me with your rod and staff.
Let me never stray from you again.
Before me, the way is clear. In answer to my prayers, you opened a path, pushing my enemies to one side or another. You silenced them, though they still scream their vehemence at me. I hear their hateful and bitter words, but they no longer attack my spirit. This once tame heart is steeled against their anger. My mouth opens and out from it pours your truth. The truth offends them and they grow louder and angrier. I walk through the shadows they cast on the path before me. On both sides they shout and lunge forward, but never block my passage. Untouched, undeterred, my purpose becomes even clearer and me more dedicated as I press forward. Lord, they hated you first, and now it’s my turn.
He trudged up the hill, his wings and the tip of his sword dragging on the ground behind him. The war raged for centuries, but this was the final battle. As Michael reached the top, his eyes were still looking down at his boots and his worn armor. He was drenched with sweat and it took a moment for him to regain his breath.
Then, he felt the eyes of the soldiers all around him — the angels of his army. They all drew silent when they saw what he was carrying. In his left hand, he held up the head of the dragon, Satan, the leader of the evil hordes. The head was as big as half Michael’s body, with long crooked horns and a dead tongue hanging from its mouth.
Michael raised his eyes to look at the head of the beast, and then he felt something rise in him. An energy. An elation. He finally had his victory, claimed in the Lord’s name. Like David beheading Goliath. Like Jesus beating death. This was the Lord’s victory, and it was glorious and beautiful. Michael screamed with both rage and joy, and his voice could be heard throughout all Heaven.
The angels joined in the chorus.
“YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAA!” they shouted.
“GLORY BE TO GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUS SON AND HOLY SPIRIT! FOR THEY HAVE VICTORY FOR ALL ETERNITY.”
Michael dropped the dragon’s head coldly to the ground then, and pierced it through with his sword one last time. He left his weapon there in the head of the beast. He would need his sword no more.
This time it’s going to be a fight.
What you stole from me before
and the plans I put on hold to follow you
– it won’t happen again.
I have a new protector now
who follows me wherever I go.
The empty places in me that you once filled
are full with someone else now.
My way is clear, no longer shrouded in your fog.
Every day is full of light
and even my nights are illuminated.
Where you wanted to lead me, I cannot go.
The temptations, the nudges,
they don’t work any longer.
Not even for my greatest weaknesses.
Where you come to steal, kill and destroy,
He comes to replenish, give life and build anew.
The shadow you cast no longer falls on me.
I pass right through to New Life.
Certain death, I had to say goodbye to you.
Greater is He who is in me.
On some mornings, I open the cover to your book and the ancient wisdom begins calling me. To certain pages I immediately turn to find the words you want to share with me that day. I begin reading and I can hear your voice. Though they were written a few thousand years ago, the message they hold for me is as fresh as the new day. They speak right into me – into the challenges I’m facing or struggles I’m working through. And suddenly I begin to see the fuller picture and how you are waiting for me at the end of my trials. You call your book a sword, and in it you tell us that iron sharpens iron. My troubles make me the man I am, and your book is what I wield — deflecting temptations in the sparks of my private battles.