Poems and Features

Great Truths

Great truths are dearly bought. The common truth,
Such as men give and take from day to day,
Comes in the common walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.

Truth springs like harvest from the well-ploughed fields,
Rewarding patient toil, and faith, and zeal.
To those thus seeking her, she ever yields
Her richest treasures for their lasting weal.

Convention Report Sermons, p. 44


Serving the Lord in Little Things

In proportion as your heart, and my heart, and the hearts of all of God's people are right with im, and your intention to serve Him is that of a single eye, etc., in proportion as you are loyal to the Lord and are not minding the things of the earth, but setting your affections upon the things that are above, in that proportion He will grant you and me and any others the opportunity of such service, and He tells us not to wait on great opportunities for great service. If I were to tell you that you had the opportunity of doing some great service, I presume nearly every one of you would get up immediately. Everybody is ready to do great things, but you will notice that very few people do great things, because great things are not so done. The Lord wants you to look at the little things, and to look for the little opportunities, and to use these and your time, and He tells us in so many words that, "He that is faithful in that which is least would be faithful also in the things which are great." Also that he who would be unfaithful in the things which are least would likewise be unfaithful in the things which are great. But the Lord is taking the matter in the reverse order, and is testing us in the little things of our lives.

"Address to Harvest Workers," Convention Report Sermons, p. 63

 

A Prayer

My Lord, in the midst of life's discords, make me an influence for the promotion of thy spirit of peace.

Help me faithfully to hold up the redeeming sacrifice as the way back to God and unto eternal life.

Where there is bitterness of spirit, let me sow thy words of love and radiate the beauty of thy forgiving spirit.

Where hearts are growing impatient and doubting thy loving care, may my steadfast faith in thy power and unchanging character encourage unwavering trust.

Where the darkening shadows seem to grow deeper across a fellow traveler's pathway, let me be the bringer of thy word, "Be of good cheer."

Where the warfare seems beyond strength to endure, make me a Barnabas, a comforter of the brethren.

Lord, so let me be henceforth an instrument to spread the benediction of thy peace, a vessel filled with thy joy and overflowing.

And in all the relations that go to make up the round of life's experience, let me be an example of thy gentleness, that it may be seen that I have been with thee, learning the perfect ways of God.

Amen.

Songs of the Nightingale, p. 101

The Praying Hands

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his wood<->cuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No...no...no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother, I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look, look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother, for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, wood-cuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one--no one--ever makes it alone!

Motivational Knowledge

To obtain the knowledge and this strength, which God proposes to supply to each runner for the heavenly prize, will surely test the sincerity of one's consecration vows. Having consecrated all our time, all our talents, to the Lord; now the question is, How much of it are we giving? Are we still willing, according to our covenant of consecration, to give up all?--to give up our own plans and methods, and our own theories and others, to accept of God's plan and way and time of doing his great work? Are we willing to do this at the cost of earthly friendships and social ties? And are we willing to give up time from other things for the investigation of these glorious themes so heart-cheering to the truly consecrated, with the certain knowledge that it will cost us this self-denial? If all is not consecrated, or if we only half meant it when we gave all to the Lord, then we will begrudge the time and effort needful to search his Word as for hid treasure, to obtain thus the strength needful for all the trials of faith incident to the present (the dawn of the Millennium) above other times.

The Divine Plan of the Ages, pp. 346, 347

Profitable Daily Tithing

If Christians allow the rush and crush of selfish ambition to deprive them of their daily portion of heavenly food, they must not be surprised, if they grow spiritually leaner day by day, and if "the peace of God" gives place in their hearts to the discontent which is growing in the world, notwithstanding the multiplication of our comforts and privileges. Let us remember the exhortation, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:6). . . . Surely the little tithe of time daily spent in partaking of its morsels of heavenly counsel cannot fail to profit all who partake. The day opened with such meditations is sure to be the better spent and more profitable. The heart thus turned to holy thoughts is much less likely to go aside from right paths than otherwise. The wisdom that cometh from above is thus gradually and easily assimilable, and cannot fail to bear some good fruit in the hearts of the saints, and to awaken reverence in the worldly.

Original preface to Daily Heavenly Manna

The Blessings of Solitude

The most eminent divine favors that the saints obtained, that we read of in Scripture, were in their retirement. The principal manifestations that God made of himself, and his covenant mercy to Abraham, were when he was alone, apart from his numerous family; as anyone will judge that carefully reads his history. Isaac received that special gift of God to him, Rebekah, who was so great a comfort to him, and by whom he obtained the promised seed, walking alone meditating in the field. Jacob was retired for secret prayer, when Christ came to him, and he wrestled with him, and obtained the blessing. God revealed himself to Moses in the bush, when he was in a solitary place in the desert, in Mount Horeb. . . .Afterwards, when God showed him his glory, and he was admitted to the highest degree of communion with God that ever he enjoyed, he was alone, in the same mountain, and continued there forty days and forty nights, and then came down with his face shining. God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and conversed freely with them, chiefly in their retirement. Elijah conversed alone with God at Mount Sinai, as Moses did. And when Jesus Christ had his greatest pre-libation of his future glory, when he was transfigured, it was not when he was with the multitude, or with the twelve disciples, but retired into a solitary place in a mountain, with only three select disciples, charging them that they should tell no man until he was risen from the dead. . .. She that first partook of the joy of Christ's resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepulcher, John 20. And when the beloved disciple was favored with those wonderful visions of Christ and his future dispensations towards the church and the world, he was alone in the isle of Patmos.

Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, p. 274

 

A Solitary Way

Psalm 107:1-9; Proverbs 14:10;
1 Corinthians 2:11

There is a mystery in human hearts,
And though we be encircled by a host
Of those who love us well, and are beloved,
To every one of us, from time to time,
There comes a sense of utter loneliness.
Our dearest friend is "stranger" to our joy,
And cannot realize our bitterness.
"There is not one who really understands,
Not one to enter into all I feel;"
Such is the cry of each of us in turn.
We wander in a "solitary way,"
No matter what or where our lot may be,
Each heart, mysterious even to itself,
Must live its inner life of solitude.

Job 7:17; Matthew 10:37

And would you know the reason why this is?
It is because the Lord desires our love.
In every heart he wishes to be first.
He therefore keeps the secret-key himself,
To open all its chambers, and to bless
With perfect sympathy and holy peace
Each solitary soul which comes to him.
So when we feel this loneliness, it is
The voice of Jesus saying, "Come to Me";
And every time we are "not understood,"
It is a call to us to come again;
For Christ alone can satisfy the soul,
And those who walk with him from day to day
Can never have "a solitary way."

Isaiah 48:16; Psalm 34:22

And when beneath some heavy cross you faint,
And say, "I cannot bear this load alone,"
You say the truth. Christ made it purposely
So heavy that you must return to him.
The bitter grief, which "no one understands,"
Conveys a secret message from the King,
Entreating you to come to him again.
The Man of Sorrows understands it well.
In all points tempted, he can feel with you.
You cannot come too often, or too near.
The Son of God is infinite in grace;
His presence satisfies the longing soul;
And those who walk with him from day to day
Can never have "a solitary way."

Poems of Dawn, pp. 48-50

 

Trusting When We Do Not Know

I have no miraculous insight to know God's will. My judgment is not sufficient, I am not to tax my mind that way, it is out of the power of my mind. I will leave it to the Lord. If He wishes me to go this way or that way, He can direct the course. So, my mind and heart are satisfied, if, at the beginning of the day, I say, Lord, here am I; I thank Thee for the privilege of another day and what I hope will be full of opportunities for serving the Truth and the brethren. I ask you to direct all of my thoughts, words and conduct, that I may serve Thee. Then I go forth and use my best judgment. If the Lord wants to lead me in one way or another, that is His part, not my part. I have solicited His guidance. My eye is alert to know and to do His will at any cost. I rest easy in this yoke, knowing that God is able and willing to overrule all things for His glory and for my profit.

What Pastor Russell Said, p. 267

 

Not Understood

Not understood, we move along asunder
Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years; we marvel and we wonder
Why life is so,--and then we fall asleep--
Not understood.

Not understood. We gather false impressions
And hug them closer as the years go by,
Till virtue often seems to us transgression;
And thus men rise and fall and live and die--
Not understood.

Not understood. Poor souls with stunted vision
Oft measure giants with their narrow gauge.
The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision
Are oft impelled 'gainst those who mold the age--
Not understood.

Not understood; the secret springs of action
Which lie beneath the surface and the show,
Are disregarded, with self satisfaction
We judge our neighbors, and they often go--
Not understood.

Not understood. How trifles often change us!
The thoughtless sentences or fancied slight,
Destroy long years of friendship and estrange us,
And on our souls there falls a freezing blight--
Not understood.

Not understood. How many breasts are aching
For lack of sympathy? Ah, day by day
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking,
How many noble spirits pass away--
Not understood.

Oh, God! That men would see a little clearer,
Or judge less harshly, where they cannot see.
Oh, God, that men would draw a little nearer
To one another. They'd be nearer thee--
And understood.

Thomas Bracken, Poems of the Way, p. 118