Great Sacrifice (Audio of poem read by its author)

Here is the audio of my reading of the poem, “Great Sacrifice” that I wrote on May 26, 2014.

 

Great Sacrifice

Many have served,
     this much I know.
But how much honor
     do we really show?
One day a year
     we think of the brave.
Who fought in a war
     that led to their grave.
On yet another,
     we thank those alive.
Who served our great country
     so freedom could thrive. 

But as I consider
     the price that was paid.
The honor returned
     seems quickly to fade.
Do we really care
     the rest of the year?
For a child with no dad
     and a parent’s worst fear?
A son or a daughter
     who paid with their life.
Is the worst kind of news,
     it will cut like a knife. 

Do we stand there with them
     in the days filled with pain?
Or do we run and hide
     when the tears flow like rain?
Do we give of ourselves
     what their loved one cannot?
Or do we walk away
     when the heat gets too hot?
We say we are thankful,
     but does it really show?
To those who have given,
     do they really  know? 

What would it look like
     to honor sacrifice?
It requires our actions,
     beyond, “Oh, that is nice!”.
To simply say, “Thank you.”
     is not nearly enough.
We show our true thanks
     when the going gets rough.
To give of ourselves
     is an honor indeed.
To care for the hurting
     at their point of need. 

It is so very easy,
     when we don’t see a face.
To treat those who gave
     with utter disgrace.
So how will you thank
     those left behind?
Of the one who has died
     so that peace you may find?
To honor those serving,
     from now and the past.
And pray that they know,
     your gratitude will last. 

While we are talking,
     about great sacrifice.
There is One who did die
     while His guards rolled the dice.
He gave His life for me
     so that I could be free.
He bought my redemption
     as He hung on a tree.
The freedom He offers
     is not just for today.
Past, present, and future
     as I follow His way! 

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

As I was thinking about Memorial Day and praying for families who experience pain and emptiness because of the sacrifice a loved one has made, this poem filled my mind.  Because those who serve deserve honor, we have a tendency to merge Memorial Day and Veterans  Day together.  The tragedy isn’t that we give too much honor to those who have served, it is that we often only think about them on one or two days of the year!  The much publicized scandals within our nations Veterans Administration should be an outrage to every American.  But if each of us were to do our part in honoring and remembering every day those who have served, so many of these veterans and their families would be cared for in meaningful ways beyond what can be accomplished by the government.  If we were to truly honor and remember the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us, we would be doing the things that express love and care for our fellow-man.  I pray that our life in Christ would be visible in the way we treat others.

In prayer,
Tom

One Wish

One Wish

If I had one wish
that I knew would come true.

Would I spend it on me,
or give it to you?

If I had one wish
that could ease someone’s pain.
Would I wish for more sunshine,
or maybe more rain?
If I had one wish
that could right something wrong.
Would I cast someone out,
or help them belong?
If I had one wish
that could fill someone’s cup.
Would I worry about mine,
or fill theirs right up?

If I had one wish
that I knew would come true.
I don’t have to guess
about what I would do.

Far more than a wish,
God has called me to pray.

And my heart is revealed,
in what I do say.

As I pray for my brothers
and those in great need.

Do I pray with compassion,
or words filled with greed?

My prayers have more power
than any wish could.

So I look out for others,
when I pray like I should.
© 2019 by Tom Lemler

I’m not sure if there will be more to these rhyming lines eventually, or not, but here’s what fell out of my head this afternoon.

In prayer,

Tom

Living Life Each Day

Living Life Each Day

What if each day that God gives us life,
We would do what we can to reduce all the strife?
If we celebrate moments that happen each day?
And aim for the good in all that we say?

If we learn from the bad, and rejoice in the good?
If we bear others burdens as God says we should?
If the life that we live isn’t all about “me”,
But helps those around us, Jesus to see?

I think such a lifestyle would surely stand out.
And make others question what our life is about.
When we listen to Jesus in all He did say,
We ought to live life in a much different way.

So, think before acting and pray before thought.
Ask God to help you to do what you ought.
And when you’ve been faithful in the smallest of things,
Rest in the peace that knowing God brings!

It’s been a rough start to the day as Susan has had seizures throughout the early morning hours. Yet even through her struggles, and my attempts to comfort and calm her, God teaches me and reassures me of His presence. As I reflected on life, this poem crawled out of my thoughts this morning.

In prayer,

Tom

Life’s Journey

Life’s Journey

I stare at the calendar after I turn the page,

For the month has arrived that I increase in age.

I pause for a moment to look back in time,

And consider the mountains that I had to climb.

Some peaks were chosen, but many were not.

Deep sadness and great joy have both been my lot.

I doubt I’m alone when my head wants to know,

Have I chosen wisely each step I did go?

The answer’s not easy, if truth would be known.

There are those disappointed in what I have sown.

It seems I’m rejected more often than not.

And it’s hard to find many who want what I’ve got.

But you cannot judge rightly when you only look back.

For the truth of the ending you surely do lack.

The seeds sown today rarely look all that great.

And a life as it grows is a tough thing to rate.

So, I also look forward to the mountains ahead,

The ones filled with joy and the ones filled with dread.

For both are a part of this journey of life,

The paths that are pleasant and those filled with strife.

The secret I’ve learned is to keep looking above,

To the top of the mountain where I’ll rest in God’s love.

He helps me along when the way looks so dim.

And I find there is hope when I’m focused on Him.

“Well done, good and faithful” l do long to hear.

So I just keep on climbing, knowing He’s always near.

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

The calendar says I will be turning another year older this month, though there are days that I think I already have. 🙂  It is easy for me to become very reflective regarding the past and it seems these poems flow most freely when those times of reflection are filled with great discouragement.  I suspect it is God’s way of walking with me through the discouragement and helping me to see the hope that He offers to me and to all those who remain faithful to Him.  The mountains and valleys of the past have shaped me, but in the perspective of eternity they don’t define me in the way that being faithful in the journey yet ahead will.  I pray that wherever you are in your life’s journey, whether looking back with pride or discouragement, you would choose to look ahead to the One who calls you to Himself and only asks that you arrive as one who is faithful.

In prayer,
Tom

Living the “A” Life

Living the “A” Life

Observing my daughter teaches me a lot about myself.  As I watched a recent struggle she had with wanting something that we couldn’t provide quickly or easily, this poem showed up in my mind.  A great sadness overcame her life as we searched high and low for a stuffed animal that would be close enough to what her mind was picturing.  No amount of reasoning or substitution was satisfactory as her mind had latched onto a specific image from somewhere.  Eventually we found what her mind was stuck on and it immediately set her at ease.  I don’t think the poem is finished but I’ve gone a couple days with nothing to add to it, so I’ll share what I’ve got.

The autistic mind
is a very strange place.
At least to the one
who must look in its face.
For the things that it holds,
there is little control.
And it helps not at all
to say, “Just let it go!”

The details that move in
and put down a root.
Don’t take too kindly
to be given the boot.
To take every thought captive
is not easy to do.
But without such a measure,
I’m left feeling blue.

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

In prayer,
Tom

Rise Above

Rise Above

Sometimes I sit and start to think
the hardest part of life.
Is finding ways each lonesome day
to live above the strife.
Troubles come and troubles go
but do they disappear?
It seems that when I turn around
I always find them near.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised
for Jesus said it’s true.
That in this present world and age
trouble will be with you.

But even in the darkest hours
Jesus left us with some news.
Just how we face the troubles
is up to us to choose.
To follow in their winding path
into the darkest night.
Or turn and find a lasting peace
from One who is the Light.
In clinging tight to Jesus
He lifts us above the fray.
And helps us see more clearly
as we follow in His way.

And if it sounds too easy
I surely must confess.
It requires more of God
as I become much less.
My thoughts, and plans, and dreams, and such
I carry to His feet.
And give them all to Him each day
as He makes me complete.
So on I go through good and bad
with eyes fixed far above.
And rise above the noise and strife
as I’m wrapped up in God’s love.

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

One of the great things about the gift of writing that God has given me is that it helps me to see patterns in my life.  While it reveals some patterns of discouragement in the midst of turmoil I can’t control, it also serves as a reminder of how God has carried me in the midst of those times and continually sets my feet on solid ground as I rest in His presence.  Today is one of those days when the mind is swirling and as I went about my morning work this poem showed up to remind me that God doesn’t necessarily remove the storm, but He will always be present with me as we go through it together.  I pray that you are encouraged to find peace in God’s presence even in the midst of the world’s trouble.

In prayer,
Tom

Raindrops

Out of the darkness
the cold raindrops fall.
They seem to be driven
by some unknown call.
They land on my head
and they stream down my face.
As I try to get out
of this cold, sullen place.

I hurry inside
to a comfortable place.
And realize these “raindrops”
still stream down my face.
Yet there is no comfort,
just a sense of great loss.
As sit down in front of
a lone, empty cross.

I ought to be cleaning,
but can’t seem to move.
As I think of the love
the cross surely did prove.
For people unworthy
and sinful as I.
The God of creation
hung there to die.

And while I considered
this terrible cost.
I knew that without it
I still would be lost.
For that cross is quite empty,
and so is the grave.
The One who has risen
has the power to save!

So, on this dark morning
with much on my mind.
I sit with my Savior
where peace I do find.
Though the storms of this life
still hammer my abode.
I have Someone much stronger
to carry the load!

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

I was awakened in the middle of the night by the familiar sounds of my daughter in a seizure.  After sitting with her and providing some element of comfort through that, I couldn’t sleep and she wanted my place in bed so I headed to work quite early to get started on the cleaning for the weekend.  As I walked through the cold rain to my truck and then from my truck to the church building, I knew I was carrying with me a great deal of hurt, pain, and confusion.  I soon found myself just sitting in the darkness with God and found this poem residing in my mind.  I’ll eventually get to the cleaning, but will do so knowing that the weight of my burdens is being handled by Someone much more capable than I.

In prayer,
Tom

Words That Build

I have a hammer
I do like to use.
But if I’m not careful
it will leave a bruise.
When I have a project
that needs some repair.
I consider its nature
and hammer with care.

When a project is fragile
and the material light.
I never would hammer
with all of my might.
Yet some things are stronger
and made of hard wood.
And a half-hearted tapping
would do it no good.

But more than just strength
for the project that’s planned.
I must consider
if the right hammer’s in hand.
If I don’t choose wisely,
I’ll destroy what is good.
Or wear myself out,
like I never should.

I must also be careful,
with the hammer in hand.
That I pay close attention
to where its blows land.
If I just swing wildly,
I’ll damage the wood.
Or hammer my fingers,
which never is good.

While this is all true,
of the tools that we use.
It’s not about hammers
but the words that we choose.
So choose your words wisely
for the task that’s at hand.
And build up each other,
the way that God planned!

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

As one who directs a preaching/teaching/writing ministry, I use a lot of words.  The effect of words on me heavily influences my approach to how I attempt to use words.  This poem showed up in my mind tonight and I believe it flows from an internal struggle that reoccurs in my life because of words that have been directed toward me.  Almost every time I preach, teach, or write, I find myself hearing two sets of words in my mind.  Both sets are actual words which have been spoken to me.  One set tells me I have no business doing what I’m doing and the other set tells me my teaching is powerful and effective.  Fortunately, I know which set corresponds with the truth of God’s Word and His gifting in my life, but that doesn’t always fully remove the sting of the other words.  What it does, however, is to drive me to consider more carefully the words I use.  I know the pain of words that are not used well and I consistently pray that God would always help me to use words, both in content and context, that would be helpful and not hurtful.  I pray that you and I would always choose words that build rather than words that tear down.

In prayer,
Tom