Thursday, September 4, 2008


Every now and then I get the urge to write a long poem--actually, I usually start out to write an average-length poem, nearly always one that tells a story, and find that it keeps getting bigger. Although every editor knows about writers who are too stubborn or too lazy to edit their work down to an appropriate length, even the best authors--the ones who go through each manuscript five or six times to make sure all non-essential words and scenes are removed--occasionally find themselves with stories that demand many thousands of words for the telling. (The popular Left Behind series started out to be a single book.)

Today's entry is like that: I at first meant it to be a brief allegory of how Jesus is the Way and how trying to attain Heaven on our own power is as foolish as trying to get to a specific location by driving down whatever street has the most appealing name. But it grew into seventy-two lines covering the ways we try on our own.

Everyone has from time to time known the despair of feeling completely lost--physically, mentally, or spiritually. It's not always a problem we can solve ourselves. Once we admit our impotence, what a relief it is to find someone (or Someone) who is able and willing to help!

I stopped one night at a crossroads,
Uncertain which way to go;
Each path looked as dark as the others,
And there seemed no way to know
Which path went where I was headed,
Nor where might the others lead;
I had no map at hand to guide me,
No answer to serve my need.

Then another traveler approached me,
And I called, "Please tell me, friend,
Do you know where these roads may lead to?
Do you know where each might end?"
"Why, don't you know where you're going?"
"Yes, but what leads there from here?"
"Why, just choose as your heart may lead you;
You'll be right if you're sincere."

He vanished into the darkness,
And left me there just as lost;
I doubted "sincere" equalled "certain";
The wrong turn could mean high cost.
Then I saw someone else approaching,
And I called out, "Do you know
Which of all these roads I should follow?
Can you tell me the way to go?"

"Why limit yourself to these roads?
I'm working to build my own!
Just think how people will cheer me
When my finished work will be shown."
"But I have nothing to build with,
And I doubt I have the time."
"You hardly need bother trying;
Your work cannot equal mine."

He left me alone, despairing,
Gazing mutely at the fork,
And feeling more lost than ever,
Having no will left to work.
I slumped with a moan, so hopeless
I felt I could die right then,
No resolve left now, and no courage,
And convinced I could never win.

But even as I knelt sobbing,
Someone else did come along;
I could not bring myself to ask Him
Which road was right and which wrong;
But He Himself stopped and asked me,
"My friend, don't you know your path?"
"No, Sir, and it all seems so hopeless;
I can't find it, whomever I ask."

"It's true that you never will get there
If you try to go it alone;
No amount of striving will help you,
For you are weak on your own.
I could point to the right direction,
But even if you turn true,
You will soon wear out from the journey."
"But, Sir, then what can I do?"

"You must allow Me to take you.
Let go your grip on life's wheel,
And put all your faith in My guidance,
However strange it may feel,
And My strength will be as your strength;
If you stay with Me come what may,
I will bring you where you are going,
For I Myself am the Way."

So I swallowed my pride and my struggle,
And I reached out to take His hand,
And I followed as He led onward
Through a rough and a barren land;
And as we journeyed on together,
Though the night stayed dark around,
And I could not see where we were going,
I knew that the lost was found.

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