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

Walking Together

I  headed outside
to go for a walk.
To spend time with God
where we could just talk.
We spoke about this,
and then some about that.
I do have to say,
it was quite a nice chat.

But it was much more
than just sharing a word.
I knew as we talked
that I had been heard.
As tears filled my eyes
from a heart that did ache.
His presence assured me,
my burden He’d take.

When I become weary
with too much to bear.
He asks for it all
as I cast my care.
So as we walked together,
by faith and not sight.
I knew that my load
could soon become light.

The burdens are present
but the weight is not mine.
It’s off of my shoulders
as this yoke does align.
When yoked with my Savior,
He carries the weight.
So I’ll keep walking with Him
all the way through His gate!

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

I have been praying a lot lately for family members, friends, acquaintances, and others that are dealing with a wide variety of health issues.  After a late afternoon lunch, I went to the park to just spend some time walking and talking with God.  As I did so, at least two things happened.  One, I found there were tears flowing down my face which isn’t something that is usual for me.  Two, this poem showed up in my mind to remind me of the truth of God’s presence even when my heart aches for individuals who are facing so much uncertainty in their health.  I pray that these words reach those that will find encouragement through them and that God would use them in the lives of others as He has in mine.

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

The Best Monday I’ve Had All Week!

The Best Monday I’ve Had All Week!

DSCN0424

A friend of mine, while serving as the preaching minister in a local church, became known for consistently saying, “Today’s the best Sunday I’ve had all week!”.  At first glance, it may be easy to chalk that up to it being the only Sunday in the week, but it was really a statement about attitude rather than frequency.  I’ve worked in ministry long enough to be certain he wasn’t saying that everything had gone just as he had wanted during the previous week, or that the events of the day were even going fully according to his plan.  No, I believe it was one tool of many which he used to remind himself and others that it was a day given by God and a day meant to be used to honor God — no matter what!

I thought about that example today as I worked through my morning routines on a Monday that is anything but routine.  While we often think of Monday as the start of a new work week, it almost always has baggage from the previous week hanging around.  For me, last week was filled with struggles and issues that remain unresolved but aren’t really within my ability or responsibility to resolve.  Nonetheless, they weigh on me and can have a tendency to fill my mind to the point of distraction and even discouragement if I let them.  With last week’s burdens still hanging over me, I woke up to fresh snow that I wasn’t expecting — meaning extra work to start the day.

But then my routine kicks in.  The sidewalks are cleared, the building is cleaned and prepped for the day, and I settle in to write the prayer guide for next week.  After some time with God, we settle in on a topic based on Colossians 3:2 which says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  Monday mornings I typically set aside to write the prayer guide that I will publish and send out the following week.  Some weeks the topic comes easily and other weeks it is a struggle to hear God clearly in regard to where the focus should be.  Some weeks I’m not sure who the primary audience is that God will use it to reach and other weeks I’m pretty sure it is meant to speak directly to me before it goes out to anyone else.

The reminders I worked on this morning were priceless.  Reminders to not worry, to be open to the instruction of Scripture, to allow the Spirit to fill my all of me including my mind, to be transformed by having a renewed mind, to engage my mind in prayer, and to surround myself with like-minded people who seek to honor God.  Yes, it’s the best Monday I’ve had all week — not because it is the only Monday I’ll have all week, but because it came with an attitude adjustment that calls me to reset my mind on the things of Christ.  Now that doesn’t mean the struggles are gone or resolved, they remain and some of them continue to grow.  What changes, and what must change, is how I set my mind in the midst of things beyond my responsibility and control.

The morning made me think of the photo I put at the top of this post.  It is one I took last Saturday and I would guess most people looking at it are drawn to the blue sky and bright white clouds.  Yet within the same photo is a base of drab browns and grays of a sparse winter landscape.  Your view of that photo is really dependent on where you set you mind, whether consciously or subconsciously.  On this best Monday you’ll have all week, it is time to set your mind on things above!

In prayer,
Tom Lemler