"This is My Beloved Son. Listen to Him." Mark 9:7
would I have urged My people
listen to My voice
it also brought us both the deepest joy:
to speak to My beloved friends,
You to receive light into your darkness?'
much good at listening, Lord;
dials are all but bust,
satellite dish all skewed from its tracking,
mind so wrapped in self’s sterile stuff –
You deign to speak with me?’
much better at speaking than You at listening,
comes faster than You can keep it out.
welcoming presence, My reassuring word,
steering touch here, a reprimand there –
long-lost hope springs us to defy the blocks ahead’.
faith’s focus and pursue the path ahead;
less than fortitude will enable you
fulfil this course that I am showing you.
angels will not fail to guard you on your path
fire your heart to accomplish this task’.
all too marvellous to comprehend,
would do all this for me
I can only
set my will to listen and obey,
anything less is but to embark upon
that leads to vain regrets.
then is the anguished cry I hear,
a thousand tortured souls:
‘If only I
had not done that, or had tried some other way
would not have gone awry
heart would not have railed’
people would but listen to Me . . ." Ps. 81:13
And now a
master hand deposits
deadening load of condemnation
with sharp rejection shafts)
dejection assumes a dull and daily hue
shutters out the purer light of praise.
barbs of self-pity’s twisted knife
flirt in the random places of our mind
heart and steal our peace,
their bile beguiles our souls
but stifle the flow of the still small voice.
Now, Lord, I rally my response
a resounding charge against these vain regrets.
over till it’s over; You still have much to say and do.
with fixed resolve I will do what You have shown me,
cease to listen and obey.
is not so far advanced
have missed the mark;
play a skilful catch-up game
who join the vineyard late.
self-absorbed will perish in their self-absorption
truly grateful reign in everlasting light.
will open wide your heart, my child,
both this and every present moment,
greater then shall be your end reward
you thought or deserved.’
I wrote this poem late one snowed-in
Christmas evening in Kincardineshire. I was inspired by two
themes. On the one hand: a great desire to encourage all who
love the Lord to make listening for His voice an integral
part of their walk with Him. On the other, I was recalling
Martin Lloyd Jones’s excellent writing on the subject of
‘Vain Regrets’. ‘If Only’ hints at failures past and
recriminations present but it does not leave us trapped in
them. The poem encourages us to overcome the clouds that
clutter our minds and to develop the discipline of seeking
the Lord with all our hearts. Somewhere in the back of my
mind I could hear the words of the hymn, ‘Trust and Obey,
there’s no other way’.