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“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”
also known as “On His Blindness”

a sonnet by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

(this poem is in the public domain; I copied it from poets.org  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/when-i-consider-how-my-light-spent)

 

–this background commentary on the poem from  http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides5/Blindness.html
John Milton’s eyesight began to fail in 1644. By 1652, he was totally blind. Oddly, he wrote his greatest works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, after he became blind. Many scholars rank Milton as second only to Shakespeare in poetic ability.

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From thirsty, parched soul
To bubbling fountain
Christ makes you the miracle

May 2009

Make me human, Lord.
Gentle and soft to the touch,
Quick to find joy in the
Everyday and the commonplace.

Make me human, Lord.
Teach me how to be hurt
So I may heal and forgive
Those hurting humans around me.

Make me human, Lord.
Let those who see me see You
In your humanity—
Weak yet strong,
Humble and wise,
Patient and kind.

You made Yourself human,
Imperviousness taking on vulnerability,
Infinity becoming visible, palpable.
Then You came to live in me.
Make me human, Lord.
Let me so dwell in You
Who lives in me
That I know I’m safe,
Safe to be me,
Safe to be real.
Human.

November 11, 2010

I just figured out tonight why Psalm 103:5 would need to happen.

I was reading the background Lois Lowry gives for her book Number the Stars in her afterword. She spoke of the courage of the Danish resistance fighters who dared to defy the Nazis in so many ways . . . and of the youth of so many of them. One young man she spoke of was only 21 when he was executed by the Nazis. Young, brave, and idealistic, he wrote a letter to is loved ones asking them not to lament the past that has ended but to work for the future they truly longed for (and needed). So young. So brave!

And it hit me that I have grown old at heart. Afraid to risk, afraid of the pain, afraid that all I’ve done and risked in the past was a mere foolish waste after all. All that pain, that fear, that doubt is crippling. Because when you’re young you know that the risks are there but you haven’t experienced them firsthand. And you tell yourself that you are proceeding in spite of the risks when really you are simply throwing yourself out into the fray as though there are no risks. Because for the young, the risks don’t exist. But when you have experienced the risks, you grow up, you become conscious of the cost, and you grow wary.

And before you realize it, you’ve grown old.

Perhaps you become more strategic, but maybe that’s a nice way of saying you play things safer.

And perhaps that’s why we need God to renew our youth like the eagle’s–so we can launch ourselves out again and take the risks as though they aren’t even there. Because in the real world, the world that matters, the risk of loving others is great, the greatest, but it’s the one ideal that is the most important. Because if we are going to act like God does, we are going to have to love like He does–in spite of the risks. And–like those young, brave, Danish resistance fighters–perhaps even because of them.

 

Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. Psalm 71:9

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things: so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:5

Nov 29, 2010

I was wrestling the other day with a wrong (or perhaps a series of wrongs), committed by a loved one. I wasn’t sure what to do with them in my own mind. When I read Psalm 62, verse 12 jumped out at me: “Also unto Thee, O LORD, belongeth mercy: for Thou renderest to every man according to his work.” Of course, this is going to sound like I am stating the obvious, but I realized that no one is big enough to handle the consequences of his wrongs. And I didn’t want that person to pay for the wrongs. I truly did (do) want mercy for that person.

But I also want the consequences to be taken care of, the wrongs to be fixed or made ok or made right somehow. Because it’s not only ourselves that must deal with the consequences–it’s those around us.

As I talked with God about it (or perhaps just TO Him at that point), He brought the Ultimate Payment to mind. Jesus’ death pays all debts. But the question I still have is this: if I stand here with the wrongs in my hand, can I truly accept the exchange of those wrongs for Christ’s blood and suffering? I mean, do I really want that? His death? His blood? I don’t want blood. I don’t want more suffering. That’s just one more wrong to be made right.

Maybe I have the wrong idea about the exchange. Maybe the exchange isn’t wrongs for blood; maybe the exchange is wrongs for grace and mercy. Mercy for the one(s) who wronged me; grace for me as I grapple with the consequences. And maybe living through the consequences is part of entering into the sufferings of Christ–following His lead as He entered into our consequences: “surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”; “but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” [fyi: those last two verses were quoted from memory, not carefully copied, so the punctuation, at least, is prob not quite right]

And I have been trying to follow His lead; I just seem to be doing a poor job, slipping and tripping a lot.

Make me a window, Lord.

Let my life be clear so that Your life will shine through me. Let others look at me and wonder what is inside that glows so brightly, invitingly. In all I do, in all I say, in all I think, reflected on my face, let others see You. And may what they see make them want You to live Your life inside of them.

Make me a window, Lord.

Let me see outside my little world as You see. Let me see the beauty around me, beauty You have made, beauty You are still creating. Let me see Your hands busy working everywhere, and especially amid the ugly scenes of our lives. Let me see the opportunities You give my little hands to join You, working alongside You as I work alongside my father and my mother sometimes still. Open my eyes to the moments that I can bless others as You always bless me. Let Your light illuminate the truth that secures me in all places that I go.

Make me a window, Lord.

When it is dark outside–when the night closes in around me and I cannot see clearly–let me look at my window and see Your face reflected: You alive in me. With You inside, no night can be too dark.

Make me a window, Lord.

“And, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”  ~ Matthew 28:20b

Funny how God brings things together from different sources! Last week, His topic seemed to be “ministry.” Here are two quotations that He used to get me thinking, two quotations from different sources.

>“The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
~Frederick Buechner (qtd by Richard M. Webster in “Study to Enrich Inquirers and Candidates” Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) From Sunday School class (a study on our calling to ministry as Christians)

God is always working where the world’s deep hungers are located. Sometimes they’re buried very deeply, but He knows just how deeply they’re buried. I want to be where He is, doing what He created me to love doing.

> “Ministry is only an outward manifestation of our relationship to God.  Without the relationship, ministry is just dust.  With it, ministry is gold.”
~
from an e-mail to me by a friend and former teacher, Jody Wong

I love this quotation the most. Sometimes when ministries change, we start to feel that perhaps we have made God unhappy with us or feel as though our closeness to Him is dependent upon what we are doing for Him. Over this past year, He has been showing me that my relationship to Him is the thing that will always go deeper than any ministry.

Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see That without dust the rainbow would not be. ~ Langston Hughes

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