I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if, somehow, I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own (Philippians 3.10-12)
At morning’s service end, at the door I stood,
my customary place, sharing parting words.
Approaching, smiling, said she, “That sermon spoke to me. You are wise.”
Immediately, my viscera stirring, I balked, stammering:
“Ah, thank you…so kind of you…but, um…no…that’s not so.”
(Manifold the times, thus I’ve replied to a courteously-intended compliment.)
Equally immediately, I realized my polite protest,
truly, was my defense against
my abiding sense, more, my fearful awareness
that I possessed nothing of the quality
she professed to have beheld in me.
Yet more…most importantly,
in shielding myself
from having to confess, woefully afresh,
that wisdom is beyond my reach,
I had rejected, however civil my demurral,
both her word of her truth to me and her.
I heard the voice of the Spirit,
speaking then and throughout these past days,
leaving me not alone, whether waking or sleeping,
e’en in the repose of my dreaming,
“Paul, step out from behind your wall of self-protection,
for ‘tis only your self-imposed prison, one without lock or key
in which you lodge…live,
risking little, remaining less than you could be,
for only through your eyes do you…can you see you;
your vision ever-clouded by the shadow of your humanity.
“Your wall, ‘tis not a womb from which new-birth can come
that you may see and be yourself as God sees and is,
but a tomb in which God’s new-creation dies unborn.
“Step out! Come out!
Listen anew to the One Who alway calls,
‘Take up your cross and follow Me’,
for He, in His dying and rising,
and in your believing,
already hath made you His own.”
A Confessional Endnote: At the midpoint of my seventh decade of living, I would like to think, to believe that I need not the Spirit to remind me that personal defense mechanisms can become dungeons. Yet, as this experience equally reminds me, old habits die hard deaths.