I Know (Audio of poem read by author)

 

This is the audio of the poem, “I Know”, written by Tom Lemler and read at the close of the 2017 New Year’s Day worship gathering of the Deer Run Church of Christ.  It was also shared by the author during the 2016 Christmas Day worship gathering of the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

The Healer

As I sit at my desk
     and pray for a friend.
My mind starts to long for
     the day sickness will end.
With all of our wisdom
     and inventions of man.
We still are unable
     to make life what we plan.
Our world is full of
     sickness and strife.
You try to avoid it
     but it gets in your life. 

No one’s immune,
     at least it would seem.
If you think that you are,
     you live in a dream.
Yes, sickness and hurt
     come in myriad forms.
From babies to seniors,
     even in college dorms.
While there are many
     results that strike fear.
One of the worst is
     when “cancer” you hear. 

There’s still much unknown
     of what goes on inside.
When rogue cells take over
     and start to divide.
Some multiply quickly,
    destroying as they go.
Others seem more casual,
    they move steady and slow.
It doesn’t matter,
     they both work the same.
To conquer the body,
     seems to be their whole aim. 

Before it sounds hopeless,
     there is some good news.
When you recognize it,
     and to fight it you choose.
The battle’s not easy
     but it’s worth the fight.
To walk each day fully
     in the power of God’s might.
He surrounds you with people,
     the arms of His love.
And calls for your mind
     to be fixed on above. 

God is much bigger
     than the cancer within.
He also is greater
     than all of our sin.
To cure the body
     so that it is made whole.
Does absolutely no good
     if we ignore the soul!
For life here on this earth
     is fleeting at best.
For those who are in Christ,
     will eventually find rest! 

So as I pray daily
     for a friend who’s in need.
I pray for a cure
     and for wellness I plead.
I pray it for her,
     who has cancer within.
I pray it for others
     who are trapped by their sin.
For a healthy body,
     is what I do pray.
For all those with cancer
     and for the church of today! 

©  2014 by Tom Lemler

As I was spending time this morning praying for a friend who has cancer, God put this poem in my mind.  As I was praying for healing, God reminded me that I ought to hate the destructive nature of sin even more than I hate cancer.  God’s arm is not too short to bring healing and restoration to our physical body, even from the effects of cancer, but any physical healing is still only temporary.  The spiritual healing that God desires for all of us to receive from His hand can restore us completely and eternally!  I pray that this poem brings comfort, encouragement, and challenge to your life when you struggle with sickness and hurt.  I also pray that it is a help to you as God’s power sets you free from the bondage of sin.

In prayer,
Tom

Friends

When a good friend is sad
     and feeling all blue.
Most of the time,
     we’re not sure what to do.
We want to be helpful
     and not cause more pain.
We’re not too sure how,
     so to help we refrain.
The problem is thinking,
     the pain we must cure.
Sometimes just listening
     will help them endure.

This problem’s not new,
     in fact it’s quite old.
Read the story of Job
     if you’re feeling that bold.
He had much more loss
     than anyone should.
His friends tried to help
     as any friend would.
They had a good start,
     as at first they just sat.
But it didn’t take long,
     to give up on that.

Their next course of action
     was some questions to ask.
To figure it all out,
     they took as their task.
There must be a reason
     for all of this loss.
He must have done something
     to offend the big “Boss”.
We know the ending
     and also the start.
The story’s much bigger,
     they only saw part.

The same may be true
     as we help a friend.
Always remember,
     you can’t see the end.
There’s things you may notice
     as they walk their road.
But you won’t see it all,
     so help carry their load.
You don’t need to solve it,
     or have the right word.
You just need to be there,
     so they know they are heard.

So how do you help them,
     the friends who are sad?
Be a good listener
     and the best friend they’ve had.
Help them remember
     the times from before.
When God has been with them,
     He’s opened the door.
And point to the future
     where God always is.
And remind them so gently,
     that they are still His.
©

Here’s another poem that came out of my prayer time for a friend. I pray that it helps each of us to remember to be the friend we would want to have.

In prayer,
Tom

God’s Way

Words seem so empty
      when friends have great hurt.
If it would help them,
     I’d give them my shirt.
We plan and we dream
     and we work really hard.
Yet, when our dreams are shattered
     we get cut by the shard.
While the wound isn’t open
     with blood rushing out.
The hurt is as painful
     and we want to shout!

We sit and we wonder,
     we’ve waited so long.
How in the world
     did things go so wrong.
The days have no answers
     the nights creep on past.
The hurting continues,
     how long will it last.
Then we start to question,
     when life’s so unfair.
What have I done, so
     that no one would care?

In these long moments
     and miserable days.
It’s very important
     that I change my gaze.
Looking within me
     is a good place to start.
To examine my motives
     and clean up my heart.
To change what needs changin’
     from inside to out.
And do it completely
     to leave room for no doubt.

When I have examined
     all that’s inside.
I lift up my head,
     I have nothing to hide.
I look back with sorrow
     at what was back there.
Then look up to heaven
     to feel His great care.
It’s in this here moment
     that I understand.
My God did not cause this,
     He is holding my hand.

So what am I saying
     and what have I learned?
In the midst of rejection
     when I feel so spurned.
Whether it’s my fault
     or the fault of some man.
God’s not left wondering,
     He still has a plan.
It may not be better
     as people will say.
But it will be good,
     for that is God’s way.

©

I wrote this poem . . . or more accurately, this poem fell out of my head in about 10 minutes as I was praying for some friends who are going through a difficult time. Difficult times are never pleasant — that’s why they’re called difficult times 😉 — but they can help us grow strong in faith and compassion. I pray that whatever difficult times you find yourself in, that you would allow God to strengthen and comfort you so that you can be used to strengthen and comfort others. I pray that these words reach all who God purposed them to touch as He gave them to me.

In prayer,
Tom Lemler

 

HOPE In The Valley

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
     he leads me beside quiet waters, 
      he restores my soul.
     He guides me in paths of righteousness
     for his name’s sake. 
 Even though I walk
     through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
     for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me. 
 You prepare a table before me
     in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
     my cup overflows. 
 Surely goodness and love will follow me
     all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
     forever.

 Psalm 23 is familiar to many and often looked to for comfort and encouragement in times of grief and great loss.  In preparing to preach recently at Deer Run, God helped me to see a connection between this passage and the statements of Jesus in John 10 where He identifies Himself as the good Shepherd.  As I look at these passages, I see four things that Jesus brings to us so that we can have HOPE in the valley.

I know that often it feels like the time in the valley is so desolate, and you’re so alone, that there can’t possibly be anyone else that is in the valley or could even understand.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending how you look at it, that is just not true.  We all walk through the valley at times — many times more often than we admit and for most, more often than we like.  Some of our valleys are much easier for others, and ourself, to identify.  In the 23 Psalm, David writes of the “valley of the shadow of death”.  It is one of the reasons this Psalm is used so often to comfort families and loved ones at funeral services as they walk through that valley.  It is a valley that we all walk through from time to time but not the only valley we are likely to experience.  There are the valleys of loneliness, rejection, hurt, anger, illness, poverty, hunger, need, exhaustion, despair, confusion, . . . I hope you get the point, the list goes on and on.  You’ve probably seen yourself in one or more of these valleys as well as others that you have experienced.  The good news is that God can, and wants, to bring HOPE to your valley.

The first quality that God desires to bring to our valley is Healing.  Jesus states that it is not the healthy that need a physician, but the sick.  He came to bring a wellness to the lives of those who realize they are sick — a healing to those who are hurting in the valley.  David describes that in this Psalm as restoring the soul.  As our Shepherd, God wants to bring healing to the innermost part of who we are.  Healing is needed when we walk through our valley.  God’s desire is for us to find and depend on Him as the one who heals.

Secondly, we find Opportunity in the valley.  This can be extremely hard to grasp while we are in the valley but God can use our hardships and heartaches to prepare and refine us for greater things.  It has often been said that an advantage of hitting rock bottom is that there is nowhere to go but up.  While I wouldn’t suggest reaching that point purposefully, as Christians our valleys ought to cause us to evaluate where we are at and to look up.  It is in the valley that we often have the opportunity to learn greater trust and dependence on God.  The life lessons learned in the valley, while often the hardest, are usually not learned anywhere else.  God’s gift of opportunity in the valley is a key component of the hope that we all long for.

Protection in the valley can often seem like a great mystery and contradiction to us — particularly while we are in the valley.  Our mind often thinks that if God were providing protection, I wouldn’t be here in the first place.  As one who had been in the valley numerous times, David realized that even when he walks through the valley of the shadow of death there was no need to fear evil because God was with him.  David spent so much time being tracked down and hunted with Saul trying to kill  him.  He, more than many, understood the protection God could give as he speaks of God preparing a table for him in the presence of his enemies.  I don’t know about you, but for me it takes a great amount of confidence in the One protecting me for me to be able to sit at a table while my enemies are watching.  God’s protecting us from the evil one went all the way to Calvary where the “Good Shepherd” laid down his life for His sheep — you and I.  Holding fast to God as our protector goes a long way in bring hope to our valley.

Additionally, we have Encouragement in the valley.  David realized that the rod and staff of his Shepherd were not meant to harm or frighten him but to bring comfort to his life.  Sometimes it is in our valley that we are quiet and still enough to feel the comfort of God’s rod and staff in our life.  David recognized that God’s presence in  his valley was an encouraging reminder that His goodness and mercy would be with him all the days of his life.  But it didn’t end there.  It was in the valley that he was reminded of the great encouragement that comes with the promise of dwelling in the house of the LORD forever.  Encouragement in the valley provides hope as we recognize the great love and faithfulness of the God we serve.

Do you need HOPE in your valley today?  I pray that you would lean mightily upon God for insight into His Healing, Opportunity, Protection, and Encouragement that He desires for you to have. 

But wait, there’s more!  Whether you are currently in a valley or not, you have a job to do!  Spread the HOPE that God has brought into your life.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians and instructs us to comfort others with the same comfort we have received through Jesus.  Part of the opportunity of our valley is in the receiving of comfort and hope from our LORD so that we in turn can offer comfort and hope to others.  We learn through scripture that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin.  He walked through the same valleys we find ourselves in.  He knows our sorrows and our pain first hand.  It is through His greatest valley that we find the foundation for HOPE in our valley.

Praying that you and I both receive and share HOPE in the valleys of life.