Friday, June 29, 2007

He Brought Me to His Banqueting Table: A Villanelle

He Brought Me to His Banqueting Table

He brought me to His banqueting table,
Via sacrificial invitation
Through the blood that speaks better than Abel’s.

The foundation of my heart was unstable
Ever slipping in spiritual starvation;
He brought me to His banqueting table.

The deepest desires of my soul were labile,
But He stripped my sinful passion
Through the blood that speaks better than Abel’s.

Though I dared to call His love a fable,
Still He embraced this prodigal son;
He brought me to His banqueting table.

I stand secure because He is able,
Ever desiring to cleanse my sin
Through the blood that speaks better than Abel’s

On my forehead, He has placed His label.
He embraces me in holy adoption.
He brought me to His banqueting table
Through the blood that speaks better than Abel’s.

--For those of you wondering what a villanelle is . . .

Villanelle: An intricate French lyric form, the most famous modern example of which is Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night." The form consists of five three-line stanzas and a sixth stanza of four lines, for a total of 19 lines. Lines 1 and 3 become a refrain, with line 1 repeated in lines 6, 12, and 18 and line 3 in lines 9, 15, and 19. All the tercets rhyme "aba" and the quatrain rhymes "abaa."

Friday, June 1, 2007

What do You do When Everyone is Busy?

In my BC days, I was something of a loner . . . let’s face it; I was staunchly antisocial. The further I divorced myself from God, the further I divorced myself from the company of people. After I bent the knee to Christ, almost immediately, my social life blossomed. It’s a rare day that someone isn’t calling me to do something, or that I’m not initiating the doing, and I love this new life. However, something has gone amiss the past couple of weeks, and I haven’t really understood why. It seemed like my interactions with people were becoming more and more superficial, and I have had to work harder to enjoy others’ company. Last night, I figured out what had changed. For the first time in months, all my friends were busy and I spent the evening alone. The BC Stephen is definitely dead because I couldn’t sit still. I got in my car and just drove, and as I drove, I started to talk to God. As soon as I did, His presence filled my car, and I realized what my problem has been lately.

In my enjoyment of the friends and social life He so graciously gave me, I had stopped spending time with Him. Sure I prayed and read daily, but it wasn’t the intimate time with God that I used to have in the beginning of this relationship. And when you get too caught up in the gifts rather than the Giver, the gifts begin to lose their meaning. For instance, my grandfather left me a painting when he died that has a fairly significant market value (it’s a numbered print of Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ). After my surrender to Christ, I sold all the worldly collectables I had, and what didn't sell, I gave away (literally thousands of dollars worth of stuff, that I just gave away). But, I couldn't sell or give away the painting because it’s not just a painting; it’s a gift from my grandfather. Likewise my friends aren’t just friends, they’re gifts from God, and in that light, they’re invaluable and I wouldn’t give them up for the world. But without the reference of the Giver, I started looking at their values, and my enjoyment of them diminished. As soon as I made time for intimacy with God, I found my joy, and my friends returned to their rightful place in my heart.

None of this is to say that I want to spend less time with them or become antisocial again because that’s my natural tendency, and I don’t think that’s what God wants from me; rather, I know that I have to keep these gifts in perspective to the Giver and not sacrifice my time with Him because I’m tired or in a hurry to go out and have fun.

And to my friends that are reading this, at the risk of sounding corny, I want to say, “I love you guys”, I do value you more than a painting, and I thank God for you daily.

To God Be All the Power and Glory Forever,


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