Holding Hands in the Dark

“As the rain hides the stars, as the autumn mist hides the hills, happenings of my lot hide the shining of Thy face from me. Yet, if I may hold Thy hand in the darkness, it is enough; since I know that, though I may stumble in my going, Thou dost not fall.” —Alistair Maclean

Walking in faith—not always fun, but always mighty. Always.

—j

Happy St. Crispin’s Day, Coach Lombardi

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle—victorious.” —Coach Vince Lombardi

And that was just football. We each have a calling from God—it’s rarely easy and often painful, but it’s entirely fulfilling. In fact all other life-pursuits leave us wanting at day’s end. To say ‘yes, Lord’ (and mean it) guarantees a target on your back, great reward in Heaven and exhausting work on a battlefield in-between. And it’s all worth it—victory is coming—victory is there.

What is your calling? I think you know. If you’re engaged with it, you also know, because you have the scars to prove it. The Apostle Paul ran his race to the finish line—exhausted, scarred—and victorious. Us, too—hard, but victory is always worth it effort.

Today is St. Crispin’s Day. I’m fairly sure Shakespeare had none of this in mind when he penned the rousing St. Crispian’s Day speech in his play, Henry V—but it fits our calling as Christians. O, how it fits…

(About to engage the battle at Agincourt, Henry’s troops are exhausted and grossly outnumbered…)

Westmorland speaks:

“O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!”

King Henry V:

“What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more…
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day!”

Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3

Hast Thou No Scar?

Following Jesus? Wounds are assured. So is glory.

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot or side or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star;
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned Me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned;
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yes, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole.
Can he have followed far
Who has no wound? No scar?

—Amy Carmichael

To be wounded for life and hope and salvation reminds us why we live and breathe at all. To hurt for the sake of the God Who Loves leaves marks worth boasting about.

I complain too much.

—j

A Packaged Tour of the Absolute

The Church is a training camp and supply depot for soldiers and servants in the deadliest war ever waged, a hospital for casualties and defectors in which we are its nurses and chaplains, a weight room for the weak, a mess hall for the hungry and a power plant for the Light for the world. To drift from this is to forfeit a war with an invisible enemy that seeks the destruction of every human soul and the humiliation of God. When Churches aspire to be entertainment venues or coffee kiosks, they pose little threat the enemy or benefit to heaven. As C.S. Lewis’ fictional demon, Screwtape, said, “A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.” Annie Dillar put it like this:

“Why do people in the churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blandly invoke? The churches are children playing on the floor with chemistry sets mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It’s madness for ladies to wear straw hats and velvet hats to church – we should all be wearing crash helmets; Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews, for the sleeping God may wake someday and draw us out from where we can never return.”

Ouch. You go, Annie.

—j