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Quiet Ramblings





Charlie Seram





Copyright@2018 Charlie Seram

charlieseram@gmail.com

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be

reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,

or transmitted, in any form or by any means (written,

electronic, mechanical, photographing, recording

or otherwise), without the prior written permission of

the publisher or author.



Cover Artwork:

Benedict Meitei

benedictbee@gmail.com



ISBN-13: 978-1985639263

ISBN-10: 1985639262





















To my parents,

Chiran and Fame,

whose lives of tireless service unto God

spurred me to spend many a long night writing.





"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep,

to gain what he cannot lose."

–Jim Elliot



Contents

  1. Preface

  2. Introduction

  3. Poetry

    1. Of God and Men

    2. The Gift of Relationships

    3. Injustice

    4. Hope



  1. Perspective



  1. An Old Testament Story: Retold

The Walk up the Mountain



Preface

The human desire to make a mark on this world and leave behind a legacy is powerful. And this desire accosts every human at least once in a lifetime. To claim that the author has not been bitten by this bug would be an absolute lie. While many aspire to leave behind a legacy of wealth and riches for their offspring, or to scale new heights of fame, there are those who tread a peculiar path—to leave behind a mark, not characterized by riches or fame, but one that nourishes the soul.

And this book is a humble attempt at the latter.















Introduction

Quiet Ramblings’ roots can be traced back to the winter of 2014, when work required me to wake up at ungodly hours. I started questioning the benefits of a dead-end job and that eventually led me to handing in my resignation. The period from leaving the workplace to landing at a new job was seven months during which I discovered my love for writing. What initially started out with writing songs evolved into poetry which I have compiled in the form of a book.

Quiet Ramblings is a collection of poems, thoughts, and a short story.

As a Christian, it is only natural for me to connect everything to God. Whether it is human relationships, injustice, hope or love, I try to imagine a mountain-top experience to see things through the lens of the Almighty—or at the very least, to see what God would want us to see as human beings. These thoughts are encapsulated in the ‘Poetry’ section.

The chapter ‘Perspective’ addresses a host of seemingly dull topics and portrays them in a different light. Regarding the originality of the thoughts mentioned in this chapter, I do not, in any way, claim to have initiated those thoughts. Our generation stands on the shoulders of giants that have gone before us and we are immensely blessed with a barrage of enlightened thoughts and ideas. The writings of Charles Spurgeon and C. S. Lewis have contributed greatly towards my writing of this chapter.

The idea for the short story was conceived while I was reading ‘The Bible Jesus Read’ by Philip Yancey where he paints vivid scenes of certain events that transpired in the Old Testament. This short story is a first-person narrative of arguably the most important event in the Old Testament.

The goal of this book is not to shackle your mind with these thoughts and ideas but rather, to encourage thinking, help develop perspective, and promote dialogue with one another and therefore, I invite you to approach this book with an open mind.

Charlie Seram











Poetry



Of God and Men



For Whom the Stomach Churns

Majestic are the walls that adorn the periphery

And comfortable is the ride to that gated community

Abounding with folks that could possibly

Live the year off a month’s salary.

Ego soaring as I walk as one among them;

Untethered to the cares of the poor I’ve now come to condemn.


With weekends spent on catch-up sleep,

And on pleasures that don’t come cheap

To refuel for the coming week;

The same life—just another week.


Through Adam’s race, we’re under a bane

And all our lives, we’re caught in that chain—

To eat by the brow’s sweat and stomach’s churn;

From that curse, we shall never return.


On that day, when the last breath is heaved,

I shall declare with a sigh of relief—

For the one true Savior, my stomach churned

And to His arms, I shall return.



The Calm before the Storm


The calm before the storm is here;

Its warning signs shall soon appear.

Back to their nests, the birds hurry;

Back to their holes, the foxes scurry.

The scattered cattle now gathering

Upon hearing the thunder’s rumbling—


The storm now has its fury spent

Its lashing rains left me no dent.

How sweet the smell of rain-washed earth;

The birds now sing a song unheard.

Glist’ning raindrops in sunlight’s beam;

Like purest diamonds, they do gleam.


Come, though not worthy;

Be sheltered in the Savior’s mercy

From the wrath of the final storm

—After which we shall be transformed.



The Humbling Hand


Rocked in the cradle of prosperity,

Diverted from the thought of looming adversity;

His hand moved against me.


Expelled the sense of security,

Ushered in a hope of spiritual purity;

From sin, I’ve been set free.


Though this life I live in obscurity,

Now I thrive in spiritual maturity;

His hand now upon me.



Three Men on the Cross


Two men beside Me hung

Blood, from their bodies was wrung.

In life, they were not devout

But in despair, their voices rang out.


‘‘Aren’t you the Messiah?’’

‘‘Save yourself and us’’, cried one!

‘‘Don’t you fear God?’’

‘‘Remember me, Jesus’’, said the other.


Soon My body they will slay,

But heavy on My heart it lay.

For though his soul could still be saved,

For earthly pardon, My grace he waived.


Grievous though this walk of life may be,

And heavy though the earthly cross shall be

In paradise, he shall be with Me;

For in his heart, he welcomed Me.



Veiled Pride


When all eyes closed, a voice rang deep and clear

To the heavens, with emotions sincere.

Those poignant words struck a chord in my ear;

But that fateful day, sin’s tender roots did appear

For praises from men, from his head, he did not clear.


And glad was I, because I for one

(In nervousness, my heart was stunned)

In artful humility, public prayers I’d shun,

And counted myself as someone

Who courted not the praise of mortals;

Nor cared to bag the verbal laurels.


Deep into my heart, I dug

The truth—there it lay well snug;

That when steering clear from public prayer,

(In the imposter’s sin of pride)

All along, I’d been walking in the same stride

For in the center of my prayer,

Not God, but my heart’s pride did abide.



Fleeting Breath


Life is but a fleeting breath;

Precious moments, its flow does ebb.

No freedom from death’s mighty wrath,

Nor escape from its ghastly web.


Life is meant to be well-run;

’Tis sure to end in flowery wreath.

Though hard you toil in scorching sun,

Your wealth amassed, to others bequeath.


What holds the key to life’s meaning?

Toil or pleasure; wisdom or folly?

To embrace life; or keep searching?

To soak in sorrows; or live in jolly?


To find the Master and seek His will,

Do His bidding; abide in Him.

Till all the earth, His glory fills

And all the heavens break in hymn.

With God


That moment of earthly joy’s pinnacle—

Could words express a heart so full

Of sorrow and joy; serene yet intense?

’Twas nothing short of a miracle

To heed my Savior’s gentle pull

And be caught in His love so immense.


No burden on my heart it bore

When called upon to give up all

To tread the path of life unknown.

For when compared to days of yore,

To bear my cross and walk like Paul,

Is heaven-sent for heav’n alone.


No greater joy my heart had felt

When Spirit upon my words descended.

With healing hands and tongues of fire,

Through hearts were healed and knees had knelt,

I no longer on God depended;

—My heart had missed the plot entire.


To heed His call and do His will;

To seek the lost and bring them in.

—In keeping these, there’s great reward.

But to seek His face is greater still;

Spend time with Him; be lost within.

Our hearts shall be in Him restored

—’Tis the desire of our good Lord

The Shepherd


Beneath the cold, wintry sky,

The Shepherd lay with staff in hand

Watching and waiting still

For perils in the silent night.


Looking up at the starless night

And breathing the dry, chilly air,

How He longs to return home

To feel the warmth of homely hearth.


But every sheep in that vast open

Obeys the Man with rod in hand.

His voice to heed; His trail to follow,

His broad shoulders—to rest upon.


And so the weary, bearded face,

That wore the kisses of the sun’s warm rays

Chooses to tarry until all sheep

Journey to the safety of the pen.



Warfare

Entrenched within me is the Enemy

Building within me a hegemony.

Within my heart; within my dome

This earthly flesh; it now calls home.


From my mother’s womb, sin laid hold of me.

My sinful nature fully blinded me

To His majestic holiness

And this earth He served in lowliness.


Entangled in sin, I cried out in grief

To save my soul: the sinner’s chief;

To stem the tide of raging unbelief.

He heard my prayers, to my great relief.


I struggle within; my soul grows weary

The battle rages; the outcome bleary.

And while it lasts; and last it shall

I shall keep up my good morale.


Because strength I find, in His saving grace,

I now am called to His loving embrace.

My darkest fears now laid to rest;

In glorious body, I now am dressed.



Sage of Old Renown


The mighty sage of old renown,

Spoke in tongues in ancient past

Of Him who holds the victor’s crown,

Whose love had hearts to Him amassed.


The stage was set; the time drew nigh,

To walk with men on fallen shore.

For man, who sinned; for man, to die,

Once for all; to settle the score.


A stormy life; a gory death

To reconcile the long-lost flock;

He gave His all till final breath

And made Himself our solid Rock.


When doubts arise; when fears dismay

And all around are nagging qualms;

His love will all our fears allay

And bring us to His quiet calm.



A Sinner’s Prayer


He looked up not to heaven yon,

For guilt and shame, his heart consumed.

He begged the Lord for mercy stream

And beat his breast in penitence.


He left the church a lighter heart,

His weighty sins atoned by God.

He looked up to the Judge’s face

And met his Savior’s gentle gaze.


Then I shall pray with humble heart

And pride from me, ever depart.

Though earth should gloat in pleasures fine,

My boast alone in Christ divine.



Walking on a Wire


Lush fields of green before me spread;

My heart knows not which side to tread.

For barbed wire divides the green;

The horizon cannot be seen.


What lies beyond the fields of green;

Only the dead have ever seen.

As I ponder which side to choose,

The wire, my feet, starts to bruise.


Before my feet give way to pain,

And while balance I can maintain.

While yet in me, my soul abides,

The choice to make, in me resides.




Hold the Ladder


Baffled was my mind and troubled was my soul;

For men who, to God, gave themselves whole,

Were no better off than men on dole.


I cried out to God in anguish

For the help of His people who languish.

I shook my fist in anger

And like Job, who demanded an answer,

I waited for His voice in the mighty thunder.

And in the midst of the raging storm, this thought occurred—


Though manna and quail, He rained in compassion

And the earth and its riches is His possession,

God in His heavenly wisdom

Would not deprive me of the freedom

To partake in the extension of His kingdom


Though the fruit is picked from the top of the ladder,

On the ground, I’ve been called to hold the ladder.



Forsake Your Nets


Forsake your nets; forsake your trade;

You have been called from pleasant shade.


Pursue the lost; the precious flock

And latch them on to solid Rock.


What shall we eat? What shall we wear?

What shall we drink? How shall we fare?


For these, men care; mere men you’re not

For at a price, you have been bought.


Lilies and birds are nurtured whole

That you may know the Lord’s console.


In serving Him, there’s great reward;

Your rewards are in heaven stored.


The pain will now not last for long;

His grace for now will keep you strong.



Strong Men of Faith


O forge ye now, strong men of faith;

The armor for the battle’s day.

To fight the Foe, the deathless wraith;

His cunning wiles, to keep at bay.


The battle lines have long been drawn;

Since ages past, the war’s been waged.

Arise, arise, from start of dawn;

With heart and soul, be ye engaged.


Strong shield of faith, ye must employ

To fight the flaming darts of sin.

The Spirit’s sword, ye must deploy

Combat the foes that lie within.


Must ye but weep o’er fallen troop?

Must ye retreat as foes draw close?

Take heart; be strong though men may stoop

At volley of the smashing blows.


To fight the Foe; his evil ploy;

Stand fast in Him and be ye strong.

We’ll raise the victor’s shout of joy

And sing along the triumph song.


To walk the path of righteousness—

Is filled with sorrow, grief, and tear.

Yet trust in Him; His graciousness;

For in thy yoke, the Lord wilt share.



Blessings


When blessings fall as they sure will;

Though cloaked in grief; and fears instill,

And I find You not in my heart’s tempest;

Yet my soul in You, will find its sweet rest.


Won’t count my troubles; there’ll be no time

To count blessings in life’s busy rhyme.

To name Your blessings, this earth couldn’t hold

Words to contain; let this truth be told.


When storms of life around me rage,

Still my anchor in You will wedge.

I’ll dwell in Your tents for all my days,

And songs of praise to the heavens I’ll raise.


Let this be my prayer; let this be my song

Till final breath of life; this I’ll sing along.

In You I find my hope; in You I find my joy

To praise You all my days, my tongue and pen employ.



Bridging the Chasm


The crimson robes of sin clung dear to my skin.

My skin loved it back;

And robe and flesh melded into one.


When time was right, the heavens split;

And swooping down from home on high,

The Creator stepped into the world of lowly men.


The iron nails that pierced His hands

Pinned not His frame on rugged cross;

His love for man had held Him there.


Thorn’s searing pain and soul’s suffering—

A cry arose to the Father’s heart;

And yet a soul, He welcomed into His fold.


As the soul descended from life to death,

The earth trembled, and graves split open—

The veil was rent, and the chasm was bridged.




Waiting for Heaven


I’m waiting for heaven,

That place of bliss

Where youthful faces,

Plucked early from earth

And old, wrinkled smiles,

Called home by God

Would bid me welcome

From heaven’s lofty gates.


I’m waiting for heaven

The place I’ve read of

Where tears are wiped

And pain is removed.

Where darkness hides its evil face;

Removed from our very thought

And the glory of God

Will be our shining light.


I’m waiting for heaven

To join the glorious throng

Where eternal ages wouldn’t drown out

The praises of my King.

But though heavenly-minded I am,

Earthly good, I still am.

For though in heaven God be found,

On earth, His harvest awaits

The labors of the faithful few.


Talents


Almighty king and lowly slave

To each, the Lord has bestowed

A portion through His grace divine

To bless manifold the world of man.


Though some may call it heav’nly gift

And others, innate talent,

But to them that possess these gifts,

He calls them all to bless His name.


When we shall stand in trembling fear

And look back at the years gone by,

Our ears shall long to hear the words

‘‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’’


With All I Am


Steeped in sin; You saw my plight

And gave Your all—Your very best;

You did not spare Your only Son

To rescue me from the miry pit

Could I ever love You unconditionally?

—With all I am, I will.


You loved me with an everlasting love

And pursued me till the cross;

There’s nothing I can do

For You to love me more.

Could I ever love You with the same gracious love You’ve shown?

—With all I am, I will.


Eternal treasure is what I seek

And for Your glory, I will strive;

In surrender to You

Lord, I offer my life,

Could this weak, broken heart ever bring You a worthy gift?

—With all I am, I will.



Redeeming Grace


Loving as You are,

You sent Your Son

And gave us hope and salvation.

From the law, You set us free;

Ushered in grace

By the blood that flowed on Calvary.


Power through Your grace

In all we do

As we bear witness for You.

Set apart for You,

Your holy name

We lift it up on high.


For abounding sin,

More abounding grace.

Sin no longer our master.

For You have risen,

Eternity;

’Twill be spent with You on high.


How could we thank You enough?

For the life You’ve given

And the love You’ve shown.

More of redeeming grace

Into our lives be poured.



Faith


The vast desert sands,

My feet may not have trod;

Where Moses and the bands

For forty years, their heavy feet did plod.

There, God’s glory was unveiled;

And yet, to trust in Him, they failed.


When Christ walked the earth,

Miracles displayed for all to see.

Of the Savior of mankind, there was a dearth,

But instead, they hung Him on a tree.

My Savior in flesh, I witnessed not,

For my time on earth was yet to come.


Though my eyes had not seen

The wonders and works of old,

Faith was breathed into me;

And my heart trusts God fully.

Faith, I know I have it in me

For I’m sure of what I cannot see.



The Best is Yet to Come


Good times, bad times; You are there, Lord,

You’ve helped me through it all.

I’ve no fear of what lies ahead,

For You guide me through uncharted ways.

My hope is in You, Lord,

It’s in You, I put my trust.


Salvation is in You alone;

New life is found in You.

No more sorrow to endure

Your presence will make me whole.

Righteousness shall be my raiment,

And I live to praise You.


The best is yet to come

I trust in Your timing.

From the clay, You picked me up,

On the Rock, You set me firm

And I know that the best is yet to come.



The Greater Good


Despised by my own

Cast into the unknown;

Your grace rendered me unwavering faith.

Though darkness enveloped me

And all help seemed out of reach,

A glimpse of Your glory

Is the hope that carried me through.


When all I could see

Was despair around me;

Your faithfulness shone like the blazing sun.

When on that day I beheld

The greater good of all;

My heart lifted endless praise

To You, who saved my soul.



Greater Worship


More than the songs that we sing,

More than the praise that we bring,

More than the hands we lift up high,

More than the words from our mouth,

We live our lives to worship You.


Sacrifice, You do not seek,

Obedience is the way.

You obeyed till death on a cross,

Fulfilled the promise of God.

The wrath of God, You appeased

And showed us the way to worship You.



Forevermore to Praise


When the last song is written

And the last tune composed;

When the last poem is penned

And now, they’re all a variation of the past.


When the last idea is birthed

And the last book is authored;

When the last script put to paper

And the last dance choreographed.


When the last craft is handmade

And the last movie produced;

When the last painting is drawn

And the new ones can all be found under the sun.


When the last ounce of gold is mined

And the last river charted;

When the last map is outlined

And the ends of the oceans navigated.


When the origins of the winds are disclosed

And the borders of the universe revealed;

When eternal truths are set in stone

And there’s no further scope for truth.


Still my soul shall offer You

A form a praise to worship You.

I’ll raise my song in joyous strain;

My lips declare Your majesty.

For ten thousand years and more to come

Your highest praise, my heart will sing.











































The Gift of Relationships



A Letter to a Father

I’m just a child,

I do not understand

The pains of life that you withstand

To put food on the table

And fresh hay in the stable.


The wintry mornings that you spend

In open fields and barren land,

Into murky waters you descend

To bring these hard times to an end.


The best of schools, you send me to

To future-proof, and outdo you.

The price I pay, with pleading stare

At lunch-box filled with goodies rare.

–I brush my face to wipe a tear.


All the pain, I see you bear

But only a child that I am,

I do not understand.

I may complain and make demands

And thank you not for life itself;

But father–please understand.


My Mother


How weak a frame she stands in sight;

The passing years, her frails unfold.

Yet as a flame, she stands out bright;

And shines to all within her fold.


For long nine months in quiet ordeal;

Grimaced in pain while on the job.

She bore the pangs, no man could feel;

Yet carried on without a sob.


Inflicting wounds that ran so deep;

It broke her heart; nearly her soul.

Mercy, she showed, in forgiving sweep;

Her trust in God; her sweet console.


A face that bears a hundred marks;

Draws not from men, loving remarks.

But a thousand suns her face did brave;

Her beauty I shall carry to my grave.



The Golden Years


These waning eyes

Though weak and dim they’ve now become,

Were witness to the nation’s rise

From ashes of the foundations.

—To foreign powers, we won’t succumb.


This wrinkled face

Kings have fought to have a view,

No longer bears its former trace.

Though ceaseless sorrows on it rained,

Lights up to the sight of you.


These withered hands

Were once packed with unmatched might

And had cleared the ancient lands.

Though now it rest on feeble cane,

For our freedom, it will fight.


These weathered heels

Ran great a mile, though feet had bled;

To defend our ideals.

Though weak I am; when duty calls,

Till my last breath, it shall tread.


This weary breath

Though profound wisdom it may hold;

Reminds me of looming death.

Though golden years shall best my thoughts,

It shall proclaim my love of old.



The Deathbed


Long, long into the sleepless night,

We watched him breathe through winding pipe.

While waiting still for morning light,

He lay in pain; no strength to gripe.


Long ailing years had stripped him bare

To skin and bones, bereft of might.

We prayed to God, his soul to spare;

For freedom from his wretched plight.


His dying words were but a cry;

A wish to lay his hands to bless

Beloved apple of his eye

—To gently touch; the last caress.


As tears streamed down from eyes shut wide,

With gasping breath, professed his love

Of young daughter and youthful bride

—He gave up the ghost and rose above.



Grieve Not


Grieve not, O troubled soul;

Long years of toil now laid to rest.

’Tis the long-awaited hour

Where my soul is now blest.


Yearn not, O longing soul;

For resting dust to come to life.

You bade farewell; it broke your heart;

Doubly depart and you shall too.


Weep not, O mourning soul;

When life succumbs to law of life.

Cherish the years we spent on earth

Until we meet on golden shore.



Love Me Not


Love me not for youthful face;

Where wrinkled lines do not trace.

For winter shall decree the end of such love.


Love me not for robust frame;

Though to many a record, it lay claim

For it lies prone to nature’s whims.


Love me not for immense wealth;

For it remains slave to impulsive health

And reasons not with heavy purse.


But love me true if your heart permits;

Love me still though reason be not found;

And keep searching; and searching still

As we in love entwine

Searching for reason endlessly.



Dearest Love


What ails you now, dear weeping heart?

Has not my love quenched your thirst?

It breaks my heart to see your tears

When all I want is but a smile.


Dear love, dear love, sweetest of loves

How strange the ways of those that claim

To love and prize their heart’s desire

When they know not what love entails.


Dear love, dear love, speak fair and true

Speak not to me—a simple soul

With puzzling words and vague riddles

For who can read your boundless mind?


If you do love me true and whole,

Then search my heart and search my soul.

If you shall plunge into my soul,

It shall suffice your questions bold.


To step into your fearless mind;

To plunge into your daring soul

Is to know the wind’s origin;

Whence it came and to where it goes.



Speak to me now, dearest of loves

And tell me true where I have lacked.

Have I not poured fully on you

A deluge of untold riches?


Neither wealth nor rank could smite my heart;

Nor could it be with mere words of love.


But to share the little that you possess

—In times of bliss; in times of stress.

To strive to know my hopes and fears

—When all around are nagging qualms.

To share in this life though brief its course

—Watching the stars until morning light.

These are the things that make me stay in love.



















Injustice



The Homeless


Long have we gone hungry and cold

On dusty steps, we now call home.

Watching and waiting for Reaper’s scythe

To take us home—our final rest.


Thousands of folks pass by our broken frames;

Walking away without a care.

A furtive glance they cast at us

Like a student shying away

From the teacher’s steely gaze


Much food and drink, we have no need,

Decades of deprivation

Has shrunk our bellies;

—A morsel of grain would now suffice.


Through sleet and storm, and torrid winds,

This weathered skin—a battered shell

Has seen us through long years of agony;

—An old rugged cloak would now suffice.


But how we long to laugh and love;

To hold gently a warm figure

And lay claim to elusive joy;

—Only the sands of time can tell.


Food and raiment shall prolong our days;

—Scanty days of misery

But a loving heart that warms our souls,

(Even if only for a fleeting moment)

Our souls shall ever remember

—As we pass on to the afterlife.


World through My Eyes


The chance to spin the fortune wheel

Had passed me by; my doom it sealed.

Along the way, I met a bloke

Whose wit and words, my hope he stoked.


Promise of a future, to me was thrust

Amidst the rush, my life went bust.

Took to the streets to fill my belly

Blade came falling when I missed the tally.


Come rain or shine, I’m roaming the streets,

My only retreat—the scabby shredded sheets.

That look from you—I know I’m judged,

Nevertheless, I nurse no grudge.


Pangs of hunger, I now can bear,

But this sea of sorrows, with whom could I share?

Though none to my rescue should rise,

Would you for a day, view the world through my eyes?



Bonded Labor


I rise before the morning sun

With sticks prodding at my tender back.

Fun, in my life there is none

For fear of the whip’s dreadful crack.


They rush me off to the quarry

Where hours I spend digging the earth.

My thoughts drowned in voices teary

In this life, I find no mirth.


When sunset wraps the day’s affair

And I emerge from grimy mine.

Mud and dirt mingled with tears

—To play with other kids, I pine.


I dart headlong for nearby field

For the day’s sorrow, to relieve.

But joy turns to grief as I find it sealed

—I watch and wait till all the children leave.



A Child’s Cry


I lay in wait in summer heat,

To stop at cars at Tolstoy street.

Those glaring eyes from window’s tint

Give me the look with eyes that squint.


As if to shoo my battered state,

Their mouths spew out words to berate.

I gather not the words they speak,

For it would in me, havoc wreak.


My only fault is found in this—

To have been born in debt’s abyss.

To bear a name that lay no claim,

—Only the dregs of bitter shame.


When morning sun wakens my eyes,

And I put on my daily guise.

I witness a scene so cruel,

—Of kids my age all dressed for school.


Within my heart I find no glee,

I know not where I ought to be.

But this I know—I don’t belong,

On lonely streets where nights are long.


When hunger pangs are felt so deep,

I brush it off in fitful sleep.

And lie awake counting the stars

And drift away to the sound of speeding cars.


My heart longs not for wealth or fame,

Nor do I wish a fancy name.

But just to spend my tender youth

In heaps of books in search of truth.























Hope



If I Could Buy a Dream


When I was young, dream big, they said;

As I prepared for life ahead.

My years of youth were filled with vision;

To create a better world was my mission.


But gone are the years to dream big dreams;

With more burdens laid on my shoulder’s beams.

As my old folks shrivel with each passing day,

Nightmare turns to day-mare filled with dismay.


To dream a dream if I would dare,

Would be to keep my gloomy nine-to-five affair.

And to keep a roof over my head,

And set on the table my daily bread.


If I could buy a dream today,

I’d buy a dream that’d keep at bay

The voices of those naysayers

To achieve my childhood dream: my only prayer.



A Flash of Courage


Flash forward half a decade;

—The girl I love is by my side.

My love, for the world, I wouldn’t trade,

She is my heart’s holy pride.


With sweet nothings whispered in ears,

We spent long weekends and lazy morns.

We spoke of dreams; of hopes and fears,

And swore to love amid life’s ugly thorns.


Our days were filled with joyous mirth;

Though days we had, when life was rough.

Of forgiving love, there was no dearth,

We stuck it out; for our love was tough.


I look back to when it all began

—A flash of courage led to conversation.

Courage, I mustered like a madman;

And then, my heart tasted elation.



An Unknown Grave


One wintry morn, I chanced upon

A grave that housed an unknown John.

No graven name on weathered stone;

His name to me remained unknown.


The wind and rain, their fury blast;

On lowly mound, routinely crashed.

The grave candles and flowers of love

Had long been washed by showers from above.


Though nameless soul he was to me,

It broke my heart to see him be

Interred by folks, that bothered not;

It lay in ruins; an uncared plot.


His grave; it lay in disrepair,

To comfort him, I sat down there.

For his poor soul, I said a prayer,

And rose to leave, for mansions fair.


A ray of hope within me rose

When all at once, strong winds arose;

And swept the leaves, exposed the moss

That covered full, the broken cross.


I wondered how he lived his life;

Bogged down with cares and filled with strife?

Or swelled with joy and laid-back stroll;

But this I know within my soul.


Though death robbed us of chance to meet,

We shall in heav’n sit at His feet.

Forever we’ll His praises sing,

And glorify our God and King.



A Convict’s Last Words


I killed a man; I had no right.

He begged of me, with all his might.

But every ounce of my vile soul

Was dark as night and black as coal.


Ten years in jail, my bones laid waste.

I prayed each morn, for judgment haste

The righteous judge in pure conscience;

Brought down the gavel—my death sentence.


As I went down on bended knee,

I begged the judge for mercy plea.

But none was shown to me that day

There was a price I had to pay.


My face downcast; my soul weary

As I foresee the outlook dreary.

But this life on earth shall pass away

As withering grass on a summer’s day.


Though eighty years, I may not see;

And breath of life, from me shall flee.

Though my heart’s beat shall ere long cease,

Within my heart, I am at peace.


The old is gone; the new is come.

A renewed man, I have become.

Though man’s mercy, I have not found,

Towards heaven, I now am bound.


You ask me now what I’d prefer;

To seek God’s mercy or man’s favor.

Come high water or mighty hell;

In God’s great mercy, I choose to dwell.



Blessed Poor Man


Blessed is the poor man,

No earthly cares accost his thoughts.

Though man, his earthly fears should fan,

His trust in God is his rescue plan.


Blessed is the poor heart,

Though men pity him with hint of jeer.

They aim at him a fiery dart

And seek to tear him apart.


Blessed is the poor soul,

Things of this earth concern him not.

For Christ has paid the highest toll.

Heavenward is his lofty goal.



Clay, Shadows and Souls


We are moulded clay

Clinging on to bones

That creak as the years fleet by.


We are breathing shadows

Concealed in darkness

Emerging as His glory shines.


We are eager souls

Trapped in wasting flesh

As we pine for the afterlife.



In Search of Hope


When the road is hard and slow

And there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

—Stoke the beacon of hope within you.


When plans come crashing down

And you’ve reached the end of the rope

—Tie a knot and hang on to it.


When the world screams at you to give up

And friends and foes dampen your spirit

—Let hope prevail in darkest times.


When your candle is snuffed out

And darkness hovers over your soul

—Let the embers of hope guide your way.



Heavenly Sights


Give what you cannot keep

And gain what you cannot lose.

For in the great beyond, you shall reap

Treasures that measure a hundredfold.


Loosen the grip you hold so dear

On the lease called life, for fourscore years.

Lose your life for Christ’s sake

And find it preserved on Judgment Day.


Rejoice, rejoice, though trials abound

In life’s journey, tossing you around.

Though filled with drear and drenched in tears

’Tis but for a season and it lingers no more.


Hope in the never-failing Lord

And find your strength renewed;

And soar high like an eagle

Far above the earth’s weary travails.



The Withered Stalk


Galloping through the fields of green,

I stopped to watch the flowers in bloom.

In joy, the seeds had long been sown,

Their blossoms now, the eye’s delight.


Now theirs to shine; and shine they did,

Under the sun’s watchful eye.

The glory of the brightest stars,

Did wane before these furrowed fields.


But lone a stalk stood in their midst,

Among the flowers in the field.

Standing awry as a witch’s nose,

Crooked from the waist upwards.


Bereft of roots, that lone stalk shrank,

Lacking the fuel for its growth.

And as the leaves turned pale yellow,

The flowers around mocked its state.


But strong it grew as time passed by,

That single strand of lonely root.

It worked its way through rocky soil

And now stands tall above the rest.


Then lo behold, this stem awry;

Standing now in glory bright.

Though pain and neglect it may have felt;

Could never define its destiny.



This Gift Called Life


Life is a gift

If you treat it like one;

Living each day as if there’s no tomorrow

And breathing each breath like it’s your last.


Spend each hour cherishing every minute;

And each minute, cherish every second.

For the years fleet by as morning mist;

The days of old; never to return.


Hug your old man daily;

Your anchor through the storms of life.

Kiss your mother good morning;

Your comfort through the darkest nights.


Smile at the passing child;

Help the old weary stranger.

Brighten their day with a small act of kindness;

For you know not if paths would cross again.


When all’s said and done, in final breath,

Let it be said with hand upon your chest:

‘‘This gift called life, I wasted not

For I lived each day like my very last.’’



Back to the Heart that Loves


The gusty winds caressed her hair

And carried away with it

One strand at a time

Away from the heart that loves.


The salty waves lapped at her feet

Longing to take her away

Into the midst of the ocean

Away from the heart that loves.


The cold rains crashed against her face

And every drop that rolled down her cheek

Took away a piece of her

Away from the heart that loves.


But all the heavens and the earth

Arose in conspiracy

To bring her back to my fold;

—Back to the heart that loves.



Dreamland


True love is found in sleepless nights

While tossing and turning all night long;

I think of her as I drift away

Into the land that knows no bounds.


To meet my love, my only love

I would tread; I would swim;

The dark valleys and raging sea

­—Or dive straight into dreamland.


More precious than her weight in gold

No earthly treasure could replace;

To warm her heart (is my soul’s delight)

The purest of them all.


So while I wait for bells to chime

I’ll journey to the land of dreams;

Though long the wait, tarry I shall

For she is worth the years spent forlorn.


But will she love me? Who can tell?

She could hate me for all I know.

Uncertainty though my companion be;

My hope, I find in night’s dreamland.



An Epitaph


Here lies interred, the crumbling bones

Of a soul set free, covered in stones.

’Twas the right time for homecoming day;

No tears were shed; for comfort held sway.


Heaven rejoiced; earth let out a groan

For a well-lived life; five score years on loan.

Glorious robe now hers to adorn;

Praising the Savior in eternal morn.

























Perspective


Eternality


Oh, what faithless creatures we are!

If heaven were to endure for a mere hundred years

after which our souls would be swept into non-existence,

we could not possibly muster up enough faith

to give up the pleasures of this world

nor enough hope to trust in God’s promises.



Omniscience



Looking at the magnitude of our sins,

if we were to ever doubt the forgiving nature of God,

we can find calm assurance in His omniscient nature

wherein He knew fully our past and present sins

and even our future sins and yet, chooses to forgive us

every time we come before the throne of mercy.



Mercy


Precious mercy, though widely thought to be

as drops of golden nectar, gushes forth

as water from a spring when we come before

the throne of mercy in repentance.



Salvation


While the beauty of salvation lies in the fact

that nothing we ever do could purchase our freedom,

it is appreciated even more so when we realize that

God was never obliged to save us.

He would still be holy and righteous

even if He would have left us to our own means.

Yet God in His loving nature desired to do so

despite knowing full well what it would cost.



Forgiveness


To receive the forgiveness of God entails

a proper understanding of what it means for man,

sinful and depraved, to be forgiven by God, holy and righteous;

not because of, but in spite of his wickedness;

and the ability to forgive as he has been forgiven of all sins.



Faith


Faith, being an integral part of

identifying as a believer, cannot be alienated from Christianity.

It is one of those overarching themes that hold everything together in place.

While the Word of God gives endless insight,

nevertheless, it leaves a lot of room for undisclosed truths.

And that gap can only be filled with faith.



Repentance


Often, we feel empowered when a

person in authority hears our plea and our lowly petitions.

But often times, we forget that there is One in heaven,

Creator of the universe, the Master of it all

who waits with open arms for us to surrender our all to Him;

to put our trust in Him and bring our cry for judgment

to the throne of mercy and grace.

And all this is just a heart away.

A heart that keeps short accounts with God.

A heart that forgives and seeks forgiveness.

—Just a heart away for our prayers to be heard by the Almighty.



Giving


It is better to give than to receive.

Deeply permeated with the desire to only receive,

many times, it is difficult for us to comprehend the beauty of this simple truth.

The ability to give is a clear indication of God’s blessings in your life.

You are able to give because God has blessed you

—with a spirit of contentment and a heart of compassion.

Imagine a person who continually gives.

Some people would call this gift of his a ‘curse’

simply because he does not spend it on himself.

Little do they realize that it is the people who receive

that have been ‘cursed’ because apparently,

they are not as blessed compared to the person who is able to give.



The Essence of Prayer


If prayer is merely seen as a means

to declare our lists of needs and wants to God,

our prayer life is bound to dry up sooner than later.

Just as communication is the very foundation of any relationship,

the state of our prayer life is a good indication of

where we stand in terms of our relationship with God.

When prayers are spent as a time of communion with God

and as a form of walking in fellowship with Him,

and not just a time for supplication and intercession,

whichin itself is not wrong, we shall emerge unscathed from a generation

where God is not seen as the end but rather, a means to an end.



Love and Forgiveness


People tend to look at love and forgiveness

as two separate qualities independent of themselves.

And in doing so, it results in oxymoron:

a conditional love; an unwilling forgiveness.

Because what is love if you don’t forgive?

And how can you not forgive if you have love?

And if you forgive, it is because you have love.



Serving God


When we try to draw an assurance

of longevity on this earth and of the protection of our lives

in the hope that God will preserve us because of our faithful work for Him,

we forget that it is God in the first place

who enables us to serve Him.

What He requires of us is not our works in itself

but rather, our devotion, not obsession;

our obedience, not sacrifice.

When service is seen, not as an act for God,

but because of God,

then we will have truly understood the meaning of service unto God.



Hunger for Lost Souls


If hunger for healing tore down the roof to make way for the paralyzed,

If hunger for truth risked disbarment from the Sanhedrin,

If hunger for justice persistently pleaded before the unjust judge,

Then surely, hunger for lost souls should,

if necessary, cross the roughest sea,

imperil one’s own life and endure bitter torment

—all for the sake of one lost soul.



Fellowship


Trying to grow close to God

without having fellowship with other believers

is like playing Frisbee all by yourself.

You will never attain that quality of relationship with God by yourself

than you would with a body of believers.



Submission


If Jesus, the Son of God,

humbled Himself in obedience to His earthly parents

in turning water into wine even when His time had not yet come,

aren’t we as created beings, supposed to bend our will

and submit our life’s purpose for His glory and His glory alone?



Debts


What if one fine day, a rich man walks up

and offers to clear the sum of our debts

and even more so,

offers to absorb all our future living costs up to the day we die?

Imagine the delight in our hearts!

Would we not give up our mundane jobs in an instant and pursue our deepest passions?

Yet, all this joy for 70 or at best, 80 years of life on earth.

As Jesus hung on that cross

with the sins of this world fully laid upon Him,

we were no longer found wanting on the scales;

no longer bound for eternal damnation but called to dwell in His presence for all eternity.

Now imagine the life that we’ve been called to live.



Pride


While murder and adultery lie at the top of our do-not list of sins,

the sin of pride tends to find its place in the lower rungs.

A conclusive means to remove such an ill-conceived notion

would be to remind ourselves every day

that the first act of disobedience stemmed from a sin

none other than pride itself.



Prayer


The magnitude of our trials

does not justify our failure to look to God in prayer

in the first hour of distress.

And the failure to recognize anxiety and fear as sin

only nourishes our habit of treating prayer as a last resort.



The Smudged Lens


At first, it seems only fair to question God and His judgments

and why our standards of righteousness do not meet His standard of righteousness

—we struggle to come to terms with how looking at a woman with lust

amounts to committing adultery.

But it is only when the truth begins to dawn upon us

that we realize that all this time,

we had been looking through smudged lens of sin.

For just as buildings, regardless of their height,

appear as tiny dots from the sky,

so do our sins, whether big or small by our standards,

appear the same in God’s eyes.



Food and Sleep


A third of our lives spent resting our weary bones on a bare mattress.

A lifetime filed with days where we experience pangs of hunger three times every single day.

Couldn’t He have created us without these needs?

How we rage against God at this injustice

until the sobering realization dawns upon us

—that if our bodies had not been created this way,

every waking moment would have been spent

in the pursuit and gratification of our own selfish desires

without the slightest sense of reliance on our Maker.



Reading the Bible


Abstaining from reading the Bible

does not stem from a faithless or an undisciplined heart

but rather, from a heart of ungratefulness

—ungrateful for the gift of literacy and for the gift of time.

But more importantly,

it stems from a heart that is ungrateful for the gift of eternal life.

For how can a believer abstain from reading the Bible

when it contains the truth about the Giver of eternal life?










An Old Testament Story: Retold

The Walk up the Mountain







T he usually long desert night seemed to fleet along as I sat inside the tent loathing the coming of the dawn. Careful not to arouse Isaac, I directed the faint light of the candle to gaze at the innocent face and the long, brown curls that covered the pillow. I had put him to bed with tales of the old legends and the mighty hunters that held sway in the forests that lie east of the lands. Had it not been for the long walk that lay ahead of us, I would have stayed up all night holding him close to me. I would have talked of all that could have been. But I chose to rest his frail body so that he would withstand the rigors of the morning’s climb.

The night reluctantly gave way to the faint morning light and the sweet chirping of the birds broke the dead silence that filled the air. How I longed for the power to turn back the hands of time! I would have spent every waking moment by his side and never let him out of my sight. But with every ounce of will within me, I mustered the strength to obey God’s command. Gently caressing his face, I closed my eyes to pray. But during the mumblings and groaning of the distressing prayer, Isaac opened his eyes. Quickly closing the flaps of the tent, I tried to lull him back to sleep but Isaac, the young lad that he was, refused to be put back to bed and was already bubbling with energy for whatever adventure the day had for him.

With the bags saddled on the donkey and the firewood loaded, we rose to leave for what seemed to be the longest journey of our lives. Or at least mine.




We trudged along the stony mountain trail. Decades of unuse had rendered the path rather difficult to traverse. The servants walked ahead while Isaac and I followed behind closely. Isaac longed to run ahead of the group, but I took every possible opportunity to be with him. When finally, he had run out of strength, I jumped at the chance to carry him on my back. Hundred years of intense toil and labor under the sun had weakened my formerly strong physique. I had grown averse to the idea of any burden being lifted on my back. But in the spur of the moment, my arms swooped in to lift Isaac up on my shoulders. Raging pain quickly spread through my body like fire and I longed to put him down. But the very thought of being separated from him pained me more. And so I plodded along, with Isaac on my back, erupting shouts of joy.

For two long days, our feet lumbered on as we made our ascent up the mountain. What seemed like an easy climb at the start began taking its toll on my feet. The gentle slope at the foot of the mountain had been kind enough to us. But we had been walking along the narrow ridge for the better part of the day now. With every step, the jagged edges of the stones that carpeted every inch of the ridge cut at my feet. Now weary and footsore from the long day’s walk, we stopped to rest our feet on the sloping rocks. Ah, old man’s legs.

I rested my back on a dead stump and gazed at the evening sun. With night fast approaching, we faced towards the sun and let our faces soak up the dying rays of light. The heavy wool cloak did not seem to be doing a good job of keeping the mountain’s chilly air for it penetrated my skin and reached my bones. And so, we decided to set up camp. I held Isaac in my arms and lay down for the night.


Age, I thought, always finds a way to bring out the worst in man


I woke up with a start. It was still dark, but the stars were starting to fade away. Perhaps it was nature’s own way of reminding me to spend every possible moment with my son. I cast a long gaze at Isaac. With every short breath that he heaved in, he cast out a long exhale. And his brown cheeks seemed to have gobbled up the sun’s rays. I adored every bit of him. How I longed to let him sleep in! But my left arm that bore the burden of Isaac’s weight through the course of the night was now screaming at me to free it. But I could not bring myself to do it. For in doing so, I knew it would awaken him and his day would begin. I reached out my right hand and carefully placed it under his head to support it while I freed the other arm. By doing so, I was able to buy precious time—time to spend the final moments with Isaac.

An hour passed. Two hours. The struggle was more than I could bear. For I knew this was our last stop. Any action from now on would only hasten the deed. That dreaded deed. There was no looking back from here. A single movement of mine could set the wheels in motion. Purple clouds appeared on the horizon and I knew the time had come. In a last-ditch effort at staving off the inevitable, I took a vow that after calculating every movement and every step that would be needed to get prepared, I would make the final plunge. Mentally, I started counting the number of steps. I could visualize myself walking around gathering up the goods.


I wondered if obedience delayed would still be counted as obedience. No. It just did not seem right. I had to obey God wholeheartedly. Obedience to God was of the utmost importance—even if it meant giving my only son up for sacrifice. Even if it meant that I would have to slay the boy myself


Up ahead in the distance, the majestic mountaintop came into view. Isaac jumped for joy when I told him that he would be allowed to walk. Little did he know the pain that he would have to endure. Longing to spend the final moments with Isaac, I gave clear instructions to the men to remain with the donkey and await our return while we went up to worship. They knew something was amiss for it was clearly written all over their faces. But no matter how much they loved little Isaac, they would not lift a hand against their master. I assured them that we would be back after worshipping God on the mountaintop.

Two consecutive days of walking up the mountain had left my muscles and joints aching and sore. I was reminded of the soft woolen bed at home. How I longed to straddle the donkey and return to the comforts of the cozy tent. But there was a greater task at hand—an act that would write the destiny of the generations to come.

As much as I wanted to carry the firewood all the way up to the mountaintop, my weary shoulders did not permit me. This heavy burden fell upon the shoulders of young Isaac. His feet staggered at the first few steps but after some uneasy shuffling and adjusting, he gained stability. I followed behind closely, carrying the fire and the knife.

All the while, deep in my heart, I was hoping that Isaac would not ask that dreaded question. But he was no longer a child. He could reason well and could tell right from wrong. I tried to distract his mind from the inevitable question but in vain. He blurted those words out. And I had to give an answer.


I prayed to God for wisdom. For heavenly wisdom; for words so apt, it would satiate his inquisitive mind. And for now, God seemed to have answered my prayers; for Isaac no longer questioned about the sacrificial lamb


We continued our journey in silence. Finally, after a three-hour climb, we were almost at the summit. It was in the final stretch that I struggled the most. For the gentle slope at the foot of the mountain wore me out but the sudden steep climb to the top sapped my energy. It felt as if there would be no recovering from this physical drain. Every step was a battle. Not merely a physical one but a mental one. It was no longer my body that controlled my actions but rather, my mind directed my every step. And the moment I set one foot down at the summit, I was so terribly exhausted that I let myself fall headlong to the ground with no regard to the fact that I was carrying a rather large knife. Isaac also appeared to be drained of energy but one look into his eyes revealed that he was concerned about something much greater. He was more concerned about the sacrificial lamb. The sparkle in his eyes had vanished. A dark, somber cloud had taken its place. Although he did not utter a single word, his eyes seemed to beg me to take away the cup of suffering.


But in the midst of all the confusion, there was not a hint of resentment or bitterness. Only a calm acceptance of the events that were to transpire


I slowly regained my strength and built an altar from the stones lying around. I had my fair share of building altars in my lifetime but this time, it felt weirdly different. The stones seemed to weigh heavier and no matter how hard I tried, they just would not stack on top of the other. Perhaps it was time for me to rest some more. And pray even more.

Finally, after much lifting and heaving, the altar was built. The wood was laid. The end was nigh upon us. This was no time to think or ponder. This was the time to act. I could not say a word. Tears welled up my eyes and I felt a huge lump in my throat as I gathered the rope and gently motioned for Isaac to come. To my astonishment, he offered no resistance. It was as if he knew it all along. He tried to catch my eye, but I refused to meet his gaze. I just could not bring myself to do it—for I had failed him as a father.


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