More than two thousand seven hundred years ago, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying, “And I … am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory” (66:18). And He did come just as He promised, in the incarnate Savior, Jesus Christ. Now many peoples of all manner and kind, from every nation, gather to proclaim His glory and praise His name.
A well-crafted poem, if I may borrow from a most famous one, is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Yet a heart of stone can melt from one ill-composed, written in a child’s hand or a lover’s, with clichés and popular idioms. The eyes of love give flight to crippled syntax as it is read, and it is treasured beyond its worth.
But it’s risky business. An ill-timed laugh or a careless reception and it’s more than paper that’s shred apart. So what is it about writing poetry, particularly love poetry, that drives us to actually take the risk and make the effort to do it? Why commit such expressiveness of emotion to printed paper or screen and endow it with longevity far beyond its expiration date when beloved eyes can no longer see and it lies discarded, bequeathed to disinterested strangers?
Ever get caught talking to yourself? It can be embarrassing! But what if someone tells you that you not only should talk to yourself, but you should do it for the kingdom of God and the glory of God?
Have you ever stood at the edge of a great height and looked down? From the safety of an intervening window, there is a panorama spread out before you. But if you’re standing on a ledge, there is the immediate danger of falling precipitously.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park:
Here had been grievous mismanagement; but, bad as it was, he gradually grew to feel that it had not been the most direful mistake in his plan of education. Something must have been wanting within, or time would have worn away much of its ill effect. He feared that principle, active principle, had been wanting; that they had never been properly taught to govern their inclinations and tempers by that sense of duty which can alone suffice. They had been instructed theoretically in their religion, but never required to bring it into daily practice. To be distinguished for elegance and accomplishments, the authorised object of their youth, could have had no useful influence that way, no moral effect on the mind. He had meant them to be good, but his cares had been directed to the understanding and manners, not the disposition; and of the necessity of self–denial and humility, he feared they had never heard from any lips that could profit them.
Bitterly did he deplore a deficiency which now he could scarcely comprehend to have been possible. Wretchedly did he feel, that with all the cost and care of an anxious and expensive education, he had brought up his daughters without their understanding their first duties, or his being acquainted with their character and temper.
In Psalm 8, David can hardly contain his wonder at the beauty and glory of God’s creation, but it isn’t long before, like the rest of us, his eyes turn again to himself and he is humbled.
When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
The God who set the heavens into motion not only deigns to be mindful of us, sinful creatures though we be, but in His grace through Jesus Christ cares for you, cares for me. This humbling reflection must be a part of our daily life, charging every thought and deed, else surely we will be bereft of the most glorious gift of all, the ability to worship Him wholeheartedly as the psalmist who begins and ends with this paean of praise:
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8: 1, 9)
Non nobis, non nobis, Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam. Not to us, O Lord, not us! But to Thy name be the glory!