23 December 2014

Bride of Christ: Vows

Revelation 19:6-8 | Jeremiah 31:3 | Isaiah 61:10

with you,
before the altar,
words fail.

What joys now lie within my grasp -
but oh what fears
that even now
it could all slip away.

For what vow can I make,
what words can I say?
Nothing is enough.
Only this little handful of love,
a paper boat
that capsizes with every wind.
There will be days
when my trust in you
will be smothered by my useless fears,
days when I will have affairs
with worries and doubts
instead of hiding myself
in your strong arms.

I am not good enugh for this -
my days are doomed
to infidelity
and broken vows
will litter my paths
because I am too weak
to hold your hand.

with you,
before the altar,
I fail.

your love does not,
and you reach out to me,
and hold me where I can't hold you.
Not my vow counts,
but yours alone,
sealed with blood -
your grace is enough.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.


[January 2011]

Recently God helped me realise how helpful the bridegroom / bride imagery in the Bible can be. I was fretting again as I usually do, and then wrote this, and then noticed: I should imagine what I'd do if I had a problem and I had a husband. I think I'd want to tell my husband everything instead of spooking around the house at night worrying my head off.
Then why do I not in the same way tell Jesus everything and trust that I'm safe with Him???

More poems connected to the "bride of Christ" imagery here.

03 December 2014

Out in the Desert

Isaiah 43:18-19

"Therefore, I will charm her, and bring her into the desert, and speak tenderly to her heart." (Hosea 2:14 CEB)

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38 NKJV)

You led me
into the desert,
stripped me
of all but you,
emptied me
till I was dry,

Out in the desert
I found your living water.
Out in the desert,
when all was stripped away,
I learnt that you are all I need,
all I could want.

You led me
into the desert -
the desert land of my heart.
You showed me
my deepest need
was you -
you alone.

Out in the desert
I found your living water.
Out in the desert
you changed my heart,
became in me a fountain
turning this desert
into a garden
flowering for you.

You lead me
into the desert -
your water-bearer,
to heal dry land
and water hopeless cases
and lead them to you.

Out in the desert
your living water
flows out from my heart.
Out in the desert
flowers are growing,
rivers are spreading,
until the desert


[3. December 2014]

Wrote this during a "prayer night" organised by fellow students.

During the opening worship time, a friend read Isaiah 43:18-21 - some of the prayers afterwards expounded on the image of living water, of the desert blooming and becoming green wherever the water touches it, also quoting John 7:38 and bringing in the thought of reaching "dry people" with the living water of Jesus. Later, we had a text meditation on Hosea 2:16 and the desert image just fit so perfectly! As my "response" to the meditation, I put together all those images that had moved me.

Picture by Antal Ligeti.

02 December 2014

Peninnah: Insecure

1 Samuel 1

It slips out of me
a comment here,
a snide remark there.
I don't even think -
it just blurts out
and when the regret comes
it's already too late.

Why must I be
so horrible to her?
Why can't I be friendly,
why can't I be nice?
Sometimes when we're together
mending clothes
or cooking stew
I think I almost like her -
but then it comes again
like bile:
a hateful word
I should not have said.

I know,
deep down,
I'm insecure,
afraid of just being
Number Two.
It's as if
if I don't bring her down
she'll bring down me
and he'll love her more -
the one he fell for first.

Who can tame
this dark creature in me,
this insecurity,
this fear of being second-best
to the man that I love?
One of us
must come second
and I don't want it to be me -
but is hurting her
really the right way?

I want his love
so desperately
but nothing can change
his love for her,
and all my attempts
only backfire
as I pace up and down
night after night
plagued by my conscience.
This can't be right.


[August 2012]

 Peninnah is the "rival" of Hannah (mother of Samuel). She was nasty to Hannah because Hannah had no children.

I had to think a bit about polygamy while writing this one. What does it mean to be Wife Number Two? What does it feel like to have to share one's husband? I'm sure there must be lots of competition and insecurity involved (one can see that with quite a few OT wives, e.g. Sarah and Hagar, Rachel and Leah, Hannah and Peninnah). I can imagine that Peninnah pestered Hannah not so much out of spite as out of insecurity and wanting to prove herself against the first wife.

Polygamy is no longer so common, fortunately. But I think we can still get into similar situations. Marrying a widower or divorcé for instance, and having to deal with the memory of the first wife and all that she could do better. Or being someone's girlfriend and knowing there's still an ex or more out there whom he might just still have feelings for if only she was willing to take him back. Men probably go through such insecurities too, though I guess they react differently. Then there's insecurities about other things, too.

What do we do with our insecurities? Do we, like Peninnah, try to make ourselves feel better by bringing the other person down? Or do we take our insecurity to God, who knows how we feel and can heal all our pain if we just let Him?