The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

An Advent Poem

It’s become a bit of a tradition each year that, as my gift to the body of Shades Valley Community Church, I write a poem (I’m a wanna be poet, but SVCC tolerates my attempts very graciously). This year, in light of our sermon series, “Why so Downcast, O My Soul,” the Lord laid the following words on my heart. I pray that this points you to the joy and peace we have through the birth of Jesus.
Merry Christmas, Jonathan Haefs
(If you’d rather listen than read, click here)

Peace, Be Free
Why so downcast, O my soul?
Why all this anxiety?
My heart races, as in dark places
My eyes strain to see.

I count again to calm the fear,
Again that I might sleep.
But I’m restlessness still, upon this hill
Amidst my numbered sheep.

All are present, none are lost.
I repeat this true refrain.
Yet downcast still, anxiety kills
Any peace my mind contains.

The worries of the night are bright,
And I deaf to comfort’s call.
It makes no sense, a heart so dense
That knows not peace at all.

O God why have you made me thus?
Why must I live this way?
Each night depressed, without rest
And anxious through each day

Can I find peace in your great love
When everything feels at war?
I with my mind, with you at times,
Nothing’s stable anymore.

Then…

Without warning, without permission
A new fright breaks the night!
Darkness dispelled, my breath held
Before an angel wrapped in light!

Fear not, he says to my fearing heart.
Good tidings I bring, great truth!
One has been born, who is Lord,
And he’s pleased to bring peace to you!

My heart stopped, temperature dropped
As a multitude appeared.
Glory to God, come and laud,
Salvation has drawn near!

I ran in haste, the sheep kept pace.
To the side of a manger I came.
I saw his face, incarnate grace,
I’d never be the same

My heart was still, despite the chill.
Anxiety suddenly ceased.
This child king, whom angels sing
Has calmed my heart with peace.

My downcast soul, was lifted up
As he lifted his eyes my way.
In their depths, I stared and wept.
Pure love was on display.

Why so downcast, O my soul?
Why all this anxiety?
See his face, receive his grace
And by his peace be free!

advent images.jpg*Artwork by Noah Stalcup

A Prayer for Asher

Heavenly Father…

Yet again you have graced me with a gift I did nothing to deserve. I hold in my arms my fourth child… my second son… Asher David Haefs. I find myself more in awe of your mystery and miracles every time I experience the wonder of a baby’s entrance into the world. It seems like the opposite should be true… I should be growing more accustomed to this by now… I should be used to it…

…but i’m not.

How one could ever become numb to revelations of glory is beyond me. The mountain range of your majesty looms larger with every peak I summit.

And… as I see more and more of your greatness, I simultaneously feel more and more of my depravity. Why me? Why would I be graced with such a gift? Why would I be entrusted with such a treasure? Why would you choose weakness such as me?

That’s when my heart hears your reply… “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Oh Lord, this is the prayer of my heart and the cry of my soul… that your power would be made known to this beautiful boy even when it when the only way for it to be seen is through my weakness! Exploit my weakness everyday if it means him seeing more of you! I know that I am merely a weak vessel of clay that’s ready to crack… still I have this treasure… that you would pour forth your power through the cracks in such a way that all may know it could obviously come only from you!

God, you must father this child, as you do all my children. You must guide, strengthen, raise, nurture, lead, discipline, care, and comfort. You must be his rock, his foundation, and his salvation… for I can never be any of these things. Keep me from ever thinking I could substitute for you. Let this be the single greatest thing I ever teach him, namely, that his needs will not be met in me, but in you and you alone.

We have named him Asher (which means “happy”) in hopes that he will truly live up to his name and know the deepest, highest, widest and longest happiness… you!

HAPPY is the man whose transgressions are forgiven! HAPPY is the man whose sin is covered! HAPPY is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity! May Asher know the reason the forgiven are so happy, namely, their sin no longer stands in the way of having you! Oh I pray he knows the joy of his sin being removed so that he gets you! Let him experience fullness of joy in your presence, and everlasting pleasure at your right hand! May he drink deeply from the eternal fountain of your glory, which alone can quench his eternal thirst for joy!

And, oh Lord, let us be faithful to help him see the way to your waters!

Empower us our hearts’ to be a to the rhythm of “To live is Christ and to die is gain” so loudly that his own heart knows no other beat. In life and in death, I pray his soul treasure is you…and i pray he learns this because you are our sole treasure.

Father, use my life and death however you choose to point him and his siblings to this reality. May my life never give them the false impression that the things this world has to offer could be rightly called “gain.” If I gain this whole world, but forfeit my soul… I have lost everything!

May it never be!

Teach me to sacrifice all this world has to offer in order to purchase the pearl of your kingdom!

Oh Father, use my life in any way you choose to teach Asher the true meaning of his name… to teach him what true happiness is… it is you and only you!

This is my prayer that I lay before your throne with tears of sorrow and joy… sorrow for the world and the narrow way that I know Asher must endure… but joy for the person and prize that empower him all the way and await him in fullness at the end.

I boldly put this prayer before your throne with great confidence because I know I approach through the blood of your own son who payed the price for me to pray! I pray in power, because I know the power is not my own, but the very power of your Spirit working in me and praying for me even as my words fall short. He prays for me when I don’t know how.

So through your Son Jesus and by the power of your Holy Spirit… I pray for my son Asher… may he know the meaning of his name… may he know true, everlasting happiness in you.

Amen.

Lent Devotional: John 2:13-22

*This is the final Lent devotional for 2016. Thank you so much for journeying through the season with me and all of us at SVCC! You’re invited to our Easter celebration this morning at 10:30am… Christ is RISEN!!!

John 2:13-22 (click here)
In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.

And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:14, 16, 19, and 21)

Reflection
The purpose of the temple was being destroyed.

It was a place for worship… for people to find joy in God. Jesus cleared it so that it might be used for that purpose again… but something deeper was happening.

This was a sign… a picture of things to come.

You see… the temple itself was simply a pointer to all that would actually be fulfilled in Jesus. Like the temple was the place of God’s presence on earth… Jesus was literally God on earth. Like the temple was the place of worship, Jesus was the one to be worshipped. He was and is the true temple!

And just like the temple… they would try to destroy Jesus.

THEY would tear down the temple of his body… but in three days… HE would rise up as our eternal temple… where we find joy in God forever!

His purpose could not be destroyed! He lives, he lives! Now and forevermore he lives!

Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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