Monthly Archives: July 2011

Tho’ Dark the Night

 

The night was dark and black

Of some light, I did lack.

But in gazing ’round, naught I could see

For my sight wasn’t adjusted properly.

 

The clouds were thick and dark,

The trees with branch and bark

Did whisper in the night breeze

But their meaning I could not seize.

 

In looking round I ‘spied a storm,

True o’ false, I could not tell.

Symbolic of what seems to be my norm

Of these days I live, ‘neath confusion’s spell.

 

In that place I sat and spoke,

No one present, not even a bloke.

But in monologues speech, at last I found

What seemed to be peaceful ground.

 

I talked, and no one was there

The words…lost to the night air

I talked and in that silence, found

Wisdom that came from higher ground.

 

Of light I asked. The night stayed obscure.

The way was dark, I wanted to be sure.

Of guiding light, I prayed.

But dark still, the night stayed.

 

And in leaving that place,

I looked out and up into space.

Upon the clouds reflected there.

Was light, tho faint, shining in the air.

 

In my quest for some little guiding light,

I forgot to look to the Creator of the night.

He taught me a lesson I wish to retain

and it is in the following refrain….

 

…that….

 

Though heavy the clouds

‘N dense the nocturnal shrouds,

Our true light is found

As our gaze leaves mortal ground.

For there above our atmosphere,

Is a God to whom we all are dear.

His promise to us is to guide and lead

but never will we forget our need.

Of His all-knowing, omnipotent hand

that will lead us thru this dark land.

 

EJ

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With What Shall We Pay?

A lot of times, we think that 2 Timothy 4:2 applies only to pastors and preachers. It applies also to song leaders, this business of being ready in season and out of season. 3 weeks ago, when I entered the church for our Thanksgiving service, one of the pastors asked me to lead the singing. Given that the service started 3 minutes after I arrived, I could only find 2 songs. For the third and final song, I asked for a selection and this song was given. I couldn’t have chosen a better song. As I was leading it, I also did a simultaneous, phrase-by-phrase interpretation. In doing so, the words penetrated deep into my soul and brought tears to my eyes. This is one of the most fitting Thanksgiving songs that I know. It truly is a pity that this is a Latin hymn and not available in English.

 

With what will we pay a love so great,

That you gave your life for the sinner.

In exchange, receive this humble offering

The humble offering, Lord Jesus Christ, of my heart.

 

And when the night extends its mantle,

My tear filled eyes will settle on you.

Lifting my eyes, I see the stars.

I know that behind them,

A loving Father watches over me.

 

I can’t pay You with gold or silver,

For the great sacrifice that you made for me.

I don’t have to give anything to you;

Your love for me is immense.

So please receive this song….mixed with tears and my heart.

 

Of course, in doing a semi-literal, phrase-by-phrase translation of poetry in another language, you lose some of the original beauty. Maybe someday, I’ll translate this song into English. It deserves to be translated. Nonetheless, even in its original text, never again will I be able to sing it and not be moved by it.

EJ

p.s: for interest sake, this song is also in Romanian. The Nathaneal Christian Orphanage Choir sang that song on the “Loving Jesus” album. It’s track 10, for those interested in listening to the lyrics in Romanian. The tune is the same.

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A Act of Faith or Extra Fuel in the Line?

Life was great. I and a group of others had completed one a huge surprise birthday party and we were on the trip back. Everyone was in high spirits, the terere was flowing and it was still early evening. Earlier in the day, we had driven 3 hours via muddy, slippery roads to surprise Jay, who is currently playing administrator at La Belleza, our clinic to the north. Only a video could accurately capture the moment of the surprise. Unlike some “surprises”, he didn’t suspect a thing, everything went off without a hiccup and it was a smashing success.

Now we were returning to Camp 9, our “home” town. We still had close to 2 hours of drive time but on a trip like that with 10 people crammed into a double cab truck, it is it’s own brand of fun. But suddenly those 2 hours stretched into uncertainty. Rounding a inclined corner, the diesel ran dry and we coasted to a stop. After determining it indeed was a lack of fuel, there was nothing to do but wait. After 15 minutes, a Policia Nacional truck comes along. But he was heading home and didn’t want to be bothered by helping me solve my problem, namely taking me into town to buy some fuel. He didn’t say that in so many words but his attitude said as much. So, again we waited, with time creeping by. I knew I should have been active in looking for a solution but I was fighting a eye infection that had started that morning. It made night-time driving twice as difficult as normal. Plus, the idea of grabbing a little sleep was very tempting. I decided I could at least try to call someone. But there was no service. Crumbs!, me thinks. And then, the Spirit spoke.

Try me. Maybe the truck will start”. No, I had already tried that. If it would have started, it would have by now. Ten minutes went by. “Just do it. Maybe this time will be different”, the Spirit spoke again. No, I was more content to let time pass and hope that a vehicle would come along. But at 7:30PM on a cool, overcast, wet night, who is going to be driving some muddy road out back in the boondocks? So I waited a little longer. Ironically, I began thinking about the devotions that I had shared the Sunday before. My question was, Do we hear the voice of God today? And if we do, what do we when we hear that voice? With that on my mind, the Spirit whispered again. “Why not? Why not just try it?” Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Try it. Maybe the truck will start. Maybe this time will be different.” So, with a prayer on my lips, I turned the key…

Now here I must interject something. A lot of times, we think of faith as God working miracles or doing the impossible. This is true. It takes faith to believe in God, especially when it truly is impossible. But I’m beginning to believe that a part of faith is God getting us passed our mental blocks and giving our situation another go. Ever hear the quote, “Whether you can or can’t, you’re probably right”? I forget who said that quote. But it’s a golden nugget of truth. So, if I think a situation is impossible, when the answer is a simple matter of physics or some other science, then it will take faith for me to try it, even if that answer is simple and practical. I write that to say this…..

…the truck started.

But, we still are responsible for our own actions. Coming through the town of Toledo 15 minutes later, I stopped at one gas station and drove past 2 others that I assumed were as closed to business as the first was. Five kilometers past town, the truck truly did run out of fuel. And at 8 o’clock at night, the local population was as closed to helping me as Toledo had been to business. It took someone who had once been in my position to help me out. A homey, cleft-jawed, clear-eyed Brazilian with clear Spanish and a truck as old as mine came along and gave me a lift back to Toledo. He promised me that he would sell me some diesel from his own supply if we didn’t have any luck in Toledo. Well, his Portuguese worked some sort of magic. I bought 20 liters of diesel from a “closed” service station and in 10 minutes we were back at my truck. Of course, after putting the fuel in the truck started right away and our angel went on his way. He really was a nice guy.

And 2 hours later, at 10:00PM we arrived home.

The Ericulean Edit

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