"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." -Martin Luther

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Because of You

Because of You Lyrics

The first time I heard this song I understood it perfectly. Since that time, however, it has come to my attention that is has been misinterpreted and romanticized to a point which is somewhat nauseating to me. This is a grimy, tough, song of love for the sake of love, of eternal devotion, and eternal tragedy. It is the story of a poor helpless guy who turned out to be a jerk but may have come around in the end, and a sweet, loving girl filled with fear and heartache after loving him.

Allow me to extrapolate. Our story begins on a cheerful sunny afternoon when Lucy and her guy Bob are walking downtown together for an ice cream soda. Imagine downtown Fayetteville, if you would. Well, they are crossing the westbound branch of 54, and are almost to the big mural, when this insanely reckless driver runs the light and mows Bob down. The driver takes off, and is never heard from again. Bob is not dead, contrary to the idea you'd get from Lucy's reaction. Unfortunately, emergency personel from the nearby fire and rescue station cannot reach Bob where he lies bleeding out, because a baker's dozen automobiles collided as a result of the red-light runner, and have completely blocked off 85 and 54 westbound. Since everybody else is running around screaming, Bob suggests from the ground that Lucy stop wailing and get him out of the middle of the road and past the pileup to the rescue station, where he intends to plug his wounds and prepare for life as a paralytic. Lucy drags his bleeding heart (and hers) through the carnage, and eventually, scarred for life, they both arrive at the station, where Bob is stabilized and sent to the hospital in an ambulance, leaving Lucy swooning and blood-stained in the arms of a rather unnatractive fireman, who would much rather be finishing his game of chess.
At this point it would be fair to mention that the pileup resulted in three fatalities, but the rapid response of Fayetteville's fire and rescue department saved several others from death, including Bob.

This, however, is not the end of the story.

Bob was indeed paralyzed permenantly, but managed to recover from his other injuries. Returning home, and unable to continue to work his way through college, he found Lucy always at his bedside. As a matter of course, he would not let her mourn the demise of his life's plans -- including marrying her, since he no longer possessed the means to support a family, or his own body, for that matter. As time passed, Lucy found Bob's sickbed more of a prison than he did. The memories of dragging his broken body through downtown Fayetteville, and looking on as he remembered that day in his nightmares, slowly wore her down until she fell terribly ill.
Lying in her bed at home, she realizes that she had not done anything but watch by Bob's bedside for the past six months. Her classes are all W-F, her acquaintances whisper about her behind her back; her close friends call her on the phone and try to get her to go shopping, and cry when she hangs up on them. Then, one fateful day, as she is almost recovered, Bob neglects to call. Horribly upset and apprehensive, Lucy drives herself over to his house (almost causing a repeat of the hit-and-run incident), only to find that, for once in her life, her girlish assumption that if a a friend neglects to call, every terrible thing imaginable has happened, was correct. Bob has given up the ghost, complications of his spinal injuries leading to a sudden lack of autonomic activity. Lucy is distrought, and joins Bob's mom in weeping on Bob's dad's shoulder.
Two days after the funeral (which was, indeed, touching), as Lucy prepares to write a tearful love song and get over it, Bob's parents deliver a sealed letter Bob wrote for her a few days before he died. The contents are as follows:
Dearest Lu,
I have no more strength in me. My soul has been beaten down by your love for me, and now I must tell you everything so that you will waste no more of your life. I do not love you. I never have. I am sorry! How can I ever hope to hear you forgive me for making you cry as you must be doing now? [here Lucy had to pause for a moment to absorb the horror and weep and blow her nose] The horror you feel has been in my heart since the accident. I know who hit me...her name was Betty, and I broke her heart too. I think she was trying to hit you, not me, but I suppose it was justice that I got it instead. See, I'm a jerk, really. I just have girlfriends to satisfy my pride. Yes! My selfish pride! Now I've been payed for it, and my life is ruined just like all those girls'. Well, there is the truth. But all the other girls were easy to dump, because they didn't really love me either. Betty just cared about her own reputation. Anyway, you were just so great and wonderful and...[here Bob pours on the complements for five pages or so]...and so good at impersonating Elvis, and so wonderful at cooking hamburgers...that I had to tell you. So now you know. I'm sorry. Go, forget about me lying in this bed with my punishment, and live your life! Don't waste any more time on me!
Goodbye now!
Sincerly,
Bob

Needless to say, by the time Lucy recovered from this additional shock, she was a changed person, unsure of whether she should still love Bob, for having told the truth, feel sorry for him for having died, or just be mad at him for being a jerk. She revised her song into the form it is in today, and became a famous star. But she always bears the pain of that day...and she still doesn't stray too far from the sidewalk. After all, Betty may still be out there.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Waters Rise. Cities Fall. Hope Endures.

This is for you, Hope. You're just, like, the most amazing person ever, no matter what certain other people say about each other in a manner surprisingly reminiscent of "you scratch my back, I scratch yours." But they can't help it, because they don't know how great you are.
Just don't get too cocky or I'll start a series entitled "What you've always wanted to know about Hope but were too terrified to ask."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Food for Thought

Most people take themselves much too seriously, but take their lives not nearly seriously enough.

The difference between dogs and humans is subtle. Humans spend about half their lives in retirement. About half of all dogs spend their entire lives in retirement.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

To Write or Not to Write

This morning I was thinking about writing. I love to write stories, and I believe there is a place for writing creatively -- fiction included -- in God's Creation. However, I try my best not to be deluded about my skills. I may well be able to think up a story, however, there are several problems (in addition to the logistical ones) in publishing a book.

First, I'm not that amazing of an author. My style isn't anything to rave about. There are thousands of published authors who have better styles than mine, and innumerable people out there who would be better than me if they actually wrote. So...why would I write something if the books already out there are written better than mine are?
In response to my own question, there is much to be learned about writing by writing. I would hold that reading is more important to learning to write, but writing is still essential, and, as they say "practice makes perfect." My style has changed since I first started writing, and I am developing more tones I can write in. But what about publishing it? Why publish "inferior" work?

Well, there is more to writing than quality of style (see "Content Matters"). What one says makes or breaks a book. Certainly, a book can be ruined by atrocious style, but can only be made worthwhile by subject, content, judgements made, moral, or whatever else you care to call content. I hope my style does not ruin my content, and therefore, if I have worthwhile content, I may justify writing.

My second question arises from this last point. Do I have anything to say? Hmmm. This is a frightening question. I know that the truth of the Bible is very much worth saying. It applies to all of life, and so a book about nigh-on anything can be "worthwhile", or, in honest language "edifying and God-glorifying." (Please note I said "nigh-on").
But do I have a better view on truth, no, even a view that comes anywhere close to being as clear, than Bunyan, Lewis, Milton, and, literally, the thousands upon thousands of Christian authors who wrote before me? I live in a corrosive, fallen, falling country. We are slipping as a nation, and have been ever since we began. We are fallen down the page of Romans 2, getting closer and closer to the final, utter pitch-black bottom of the pit of sin and corruption. The church, the very pillar and butress of truth, is shattered into a hundred "opinions", pulverized into dust particles, each a "lone ranger Christian", tipping slowly over to the ground, lowering the truth to the mud. There is no truth. There is no God. There is no right. There is no wrong. The church is beginning to buy these lies, abhorrent to God and damning to the soul. I live in this world, in this country. How can I think to open my mouth to offer my fiction that shows truth, even to quote the Bible, when so many in better, more godly times, with better teaching and meeker hearts have offered their creativity?
Hmmm. I need to go think about it some more.

But I know this. To discount the truth, validity, clarity, and power of God's Truth as revealed in His Word, on account of my insufficience and surroundings, would be utter foolishness and pride. Those in the past did not understand better because everyone else did. They understood better because they had the Word of God, their churches, and the Holy Spirit working righteousness in them. These I have. So I won't burn my manuscripts quite yet. Sorry to get ya'lls hopes up.
And while I wait and think, I will pray for the church.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Girl and the Ghostly Knight

(Her Salvation, Fortress, and Shield)

"Now we see in a mirror dimly,
Then we shall see face to face."
~I Corinthians 13:12~
~1~
Salvation

"He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
And by His stripes we were healed."
~Isaiah 53:5~
From the castle rang the trumpets;
Watchmen hailed the Prince.
Calling-birds away did flit
From the opening fence.

No hooves well shod ranked through the gate,
No valiant crowd of men,
But a single Son, over-late,
His visage worn and thin.

From deep within the castle keep
Peered out a mighty host,
Awake in what some might call sleep,
To see what was not a ghost.

Their hearts were cheered, they gave a shout!
Peasants in the fields
Looked up to see what was about
To them, be revealed.

The wakeful sleepers saw the Prince.
The peasants looked in vain,
To see who carried through the fence
A bundle, with His pain.

For not pale by nature was He.
Lo, He bears five wounds!
Behind His feet, footprints of blood.
Again the trumpet sounds.

What wonder this? His people cheer,
Though half see not His form.
They know the bundle held so near
Was plucked from raging storm.

He brings His prize, held tenderly,
Clasped to armored chest.
Gaze at the scene familiarly
Those within, at rest.

For each of them rode in those arms
Held close with wounded hands.
For another saved sound forth alarms,
The living dead will dance!

Engauntleted arms hold close one
Who never'd seen the light.
For this child He'd battled and won,
Though wounded in the fight.

Oh little girl, awake, and see
The Knight who gave His life for thee!

Brotherly arms then held her close.
Fear within her died.
She rested on the Loving Ghost,
And to see Him, sighed.

Saw she not who held her to His chest,
Who told her not to fear.
On the arm that held, a shield did rest,
And in His hand, a spear.


~2~
Fortress

"The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble."
~Psalm 9:9~

"He has bent and readied His bow."
~Psalm 7:12~
The Prince released her from His arms
To the old man Grentz.
"Safe you shall keep her on your farm,
From all without the fence."

She lived within the outer fence
In the castle's shade.
She laughed and played and helped dear Grentz
Plant seeds with her spade.

She grew in joy, was loved by all,
Worked hard in happiness,
But never passed the castle wall,
Thought its turrets useless.

She longed her Savior to embrace
For what He did for her.
Feared, for she could not see His face,
Through castle gate to stir.

One dawning morn, once years had passed
The little girl worked on,
Little knowing that foes amassed
Outside the bright new dawn.

They came with stealth to breach the fence
But the watchmen spied them.
At the alarm the old man Grentz
Left for the battle grim.

Alone in the farmhouse she crouched.
Clash and thunder! Battle's wonder
Drew her out to see the men march,
The Prince's banner under.

Came bolts of flame with ghastly fume
Crashing upon the field,
From whence she fled, and not too soon!
To flame the wheat did yield.

Terror like a hunter drove her
To the castle wall.
She fled beneath its turrets sure,
Up upon the wall

Gaze'd she out upon the good men
Standing 'gainst the foe.
Saw fell, fleet shafts flying towards her,
Sent to bring her low.

Turning to flee she saw His bow bent,
From highest turret His shafts He sent.

Familiar arms then held her close,
Fear within her died.
She rested on the Knightly Ghost,
And to see Him, sighed.

Her hair fell tangled o'er His chest,
He spoke, peace to her flowed.
On arm that held, a shield did rest,
And on His back, a bow.


~3~
Shield

"You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the lifter of my head."
~Psalm 3:3~

"Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God."
~Matthew 5:8~
For years she lived with joyous face,
Servant of the King.
She grew in stature, beauty, grace,
Skilled in every thing.

She rested in the castle's wall,
Worked gladly in the fields,
Watched each day for the Prince to call,
Bringing another healed.

For each day He strode forth armed
From the fence's door,
Returned to bring another unharmed,
Safe forevermore.

Just as these, she in Him rested,
Loved His loving grace,
Praised Him, clung to Him when tested,
Ever sought His face.

One night when all was darkest gloom,
Evil slithered in
Through the window of her room,
Its face a sickly grin.

She woke as its presence spread out
Into the darkness.
She sat up with a stifled shout.
It whispered, "Highness,

"You are beauteous, regal, fair,
Venture out with me
Into a land of open air.
Live as ruler, free."

"Fly away from Him who saved me
From your kingdom empty?
Much rather would I die, and see,
His face in its glory!"

It reached for her to take her hence,
But she fled its grasp,
Leaped it after her, loosing lance,
Poisoned as an asp.

Outside her door she glimpsed His face,
Dim yet full of glory!
Flew to her Knight, winning the race
With the lance so gory.

He embraced her with His shielded arm.
The lance struck it, shattered, caused no harm!

The Enemy fled as He held her close.
Fear within her died.
She leaned on Him who loved her most
And to see Him, sighed.

Her hair fell light upon His chest.
He spoke a soothing word.
On arm that held, a shield did rest,
And in its sheath, a sword.

"But let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
Let them ever sing for joy,
And spread Your protection over them,
That those who love You Name may exult in You."
~Psalm 5:11~

"To the King of ages, immortal, invisible,
The only God, be honor and glory forever and ever,
Amen."
~I Timothy 1:17~