Be content living no one else’s life but your own.
I believe one of the greatest issues in our society (as well as in my personal life) is when we try to measure ourselves against other people. Too often, we are trying to live lives that we were never meant to live. Pain, inadequacy, resentment, jealousy, and a whole host of other negative emotions are the only possible outcome.
Be the absolute best version of you. It isn’t OK to be average – an average version of YOUR potential. But your best might always be average in the eyes of society and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has different callings and paths to walk. Those paths of humble and quiet objectives are just as important as the in your face, change the world in giant ways missions. Walk your path and don’t pay attention to the paths you weren’t born to walk.
Link to my poetry books on Amazon (FREE with Kindle Unlimited)
I am excited to announce that my latest chapbook of poetry is now available on Amazon in both kindle and paperback formats. These poems have gone through many edits, and I’ve invested lots of time in them. They are centered around my love for nature and also the wisdom we can learn from it. While it isn’t nearly as spiritually centered as my first book, “A Voice in the Wilderness”, there still are themes of God within it – but very general themes; I wanted this to be a collection that almost everyone could enjoy.
While not necessarily a “full” collection, I feel my poems still have more “meat” than a lot of the popular “full” collections of poetry today, consisting of only one or two lines per page. My stanzas could certainly be read that way, but most of my poems are about a page, and a few that are more than that. I only say this to assure readers that the chapbook still has quite a bit of content.
Summary- “Justin Farley’s second chapbook is a collection of poems about nature. Starting in his early childhood, the woods have been a teacher and source of beauty, exploration, adventure, and love. “Nature’s Bounty” is the accumulation of a lifetime of wisdom gained from exploring nature and observing the lessons nature teaches us. This nature poetry collection will reach the hearts and minds of hikers, bird watchers, campers, naturalists, and all those who hold the rivers, lakes, mountains, animals and forests in high esteem. Contains poems on subjects such as birds, animals, the spiritual aspect of nature, gardening, flowers, trees, hiking in the woods, etc.”
I am happy and grateful to share this with you and hope you enjoy it 🙂
Every time I read The Parable of the Prodigal Son I am struck by the behavior of the oldest son. Ever notice how we never really get a resolution at the end of the story? The story doesn’t close with the oldest son saying, “You’re right, Dad. I’m so glad my brother is home – let’s go celebrate.”
My gut feeling is that the oldest son storms away from both his dad and brother, allowing his pride and anger to get the best of him until his resentment grows and turns into hate. It becomes pretty clear by the end of the story that he always did what was right with the expectation of getting favor from his father and an elevated status in the household. As soon as that assumption is questioned by the father receiving the younger son with open arms, the older brother’s real motive comes out.
We often read the story through the lens of the younger brother, relieved that God is a father of love and mercy, ready to receive us back with open arms. What we fail to see, though, is that more times than not we are the older brother – judging and prideful. The younger brother did not just sin against the father; he sinned in some of the worst ways possible. He spat on his father’s reputation so he could have money to have sex with whores and live in squalor.
Most of us in the church have never gone this low. Sure, we’re not perfect, but we’re not included in the lowest wretches of society either. And the pride of every Christian loves God’s forgiveness in his or her own life but scorns it in elsewhere. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you invited a recovering drug addict, abuser, murderer, rapist over for dinner? Which one of us would have no problem introducing a prostitute to all of our church friends?
You see, God’s love isn’t fair. It’s radical. So radical that it bore nails for people that torture children, rape the innocent, kill for fun. I’m being a bit extreme to make a point. But seriously. Those people have just as much right to the love of God as the most ardent churchgoer. All it takes is for them to recognize their sin and come home like the youngest son did. Ugh. That’s not the kind of grace we like. We like our moments of anger, our quick unclean thoughts, our occasional gossip to be forgiven….But murderers? Rapists? Sadists? Those people need to pay.
And there lies the pride that quickly puts us all in the place of the older brother. Are you happy to see the worst of society in your church? Do you run to embrace them and welcome them home? Or do you wonder what the hell the lady with the short skirt and tits practically out is doing in church? Are you appalled by the stench of liquor on the man sitting next to you?
I relate with the older brother. I hate the fact that God reserves the same place at his table for people who have drifted in sin all their life as for the saintly. I deserve a gold star if I wait in line the whole time and not just cut to the front. That man who killed his wife sure as hell better not get the same reward as me.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a relief but mostly, it’s a tragedy. We all like to think we’re the broken son who gets embraced by his loving father. We can even see God running towards us – smile on his face and his arms opened wide. Unfortunately, for the most part, that’s a fantasy. We’re the pissed off brother in the corner fuming, asking, “What about me?” We’re the one questioning the fairness of love that sees everyone equally. We’re the one saying, “How dare you not give me my due for all the time, energy, and devotion I gave you.”
No single sin disqualifies you from the love of God, but your pride disqualifies God from your love. It is the deadliest and most serious of all sins. Yes, even worse than murder. Maybe not in the eyes of the law but in the eyes of God. It is easy for a murderer to know he is wicked. Blood is stained upon his hands. If he wants redemption, he comes broken. “My God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” But for the “good” pride causes a major blind spot, we come to God with chin up, head held high saying, “I’m not THAT bad.” In order to receive the grace and love of God, you must first know you need it. Pride is deadly because it convinces us that we have nothing to be sorry for, that there’s nothing that we need from God. And paradoxically, the son who never walked away is still the farthest from the father.
On my daily walk this morning, I was struck by the stirring of the Spirit as I was meditating on God’s will. I guess I’ve always imagined my contribution to society would be grand. Whether that has been my inflated ego or God speaking all these years, I don’t know.
But regardless, I often find myself irritated by the mundane aspects of life- changing diapers, cleaning the house, helping with homework, watching kids, etc. because it feels like it is keeping me from realizing greatness. How am I going to be able to create a grand piece of art that changes the world if I rarely ever have time to write?
But what if the grand is keeping me from realizing the great? What if God’s will is simply for me to be a great husband, a great father, a great teacher and preacher to my children? Maybe the grand artist is my will and not God’s.
We can never know with absolute certainty what God’s will is; we can only do our best to keep an open place in our mind and heart for the Spirit to speak to us, constantly revising where we’re headed based upon His promptings.
My job is not to elevate myself. The world will one day forget that I existed regardless if I become “famous” or not. But hopefully the work that I do contributes to preserving the name of Jesus Christ so that thousands of years from now people will still know His name. There is no shame living a life that the world never notices if it is well lived, measured not by the world’s standards but by God’s. Better to live by the Word of God hidden from the world than to be elevated by the world without it. Teresa of Avila provides a lovely mantra to live by: “whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
This philosophy allows us to enjoy life and live fully, content in the present moment. It is folly to strive to make something out of YOUR life. Rather, live in a way that makes something out of His life. A life that brings even a single soul closer to God is a life of greatness. Don’t be blinded by the grand. Excel in the everyday, ordinary tasks, and the grand will occur if God wills it.
The more seriously you take yourself, the less seriously you take God. For when you become master, you bind yourself in chains of action, always striving harder and harder, less and less sure you’ve done enough to create a lasting legacy.
But the more seriously you take God, the less pressure you have upon yourself. Laugh at yourself and the ridiculous, pompous thoughts of the human ego. God didn’t create you to glorify yourself; God created you to glorify Himself.
So love life and the people in it. Love the fact that God is going to help come to fruition His will whether you’re completely on board and do everything right or not. God doesn’t need us to glorify Him but knows the only time our souls are full and content is when we live in the Spirit and join in the centripetal, ever-revolving, relational love of God.
We are infinitely cherished and special beings while simultaneously being utterly unnecessary in the grand plan of God. This allows us to live with purpose yet pile all the weight of the world onto the Cross, onto the only one this world truly needs.
My first chapbook of collected poems is available now! I hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!
The kindle version of my chapbook, “A Voice in the Wilderness”, is currently free on Amazon through Sunday. I would truly appreciate you leaving a rating and/or review 😊 You can find it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JHC5Z8N/⠀
Crystals hang from the heavenly chandelier
on the city upon the hill.
Catching light and doing for the eyes
what wind chimes do for the ears.
of an ancient force
with an unquenchable thirst
Crystals catch the sun's light,
act like mirrors with the power
of those at the Pharos lighthouse,
and reflect it to the ends of the earth.
Never giving birth to work
by its own power,
only transmitting a greater light
whose flame has burned
indefatigable to the chagrin of the night.
of an ancient force
with an unquenchable thirst
of crystals dangling like diamonds,
gleaming beneath the sun.
Dazzling like the thread
of the spider's web she's spun
catching the nightmares of the world
like colossal dream catchers,
waking up those who've fallen asleep,
and giving sight to a world walking in darkness.
An Outstretched Hand
Grace waits patiently for everyone
like Charon beside the River Styx.
But Grace requires no coinage
for sin's payment has been nixed.
The sound of a boulder's rumble,
louder to the soul than deafening thunder,
is the receipt for the cost of transgression, paid in full.
It leaves even angels still in wonder
at the depth of love that bears such a brutal toll.
Grace holds her breath with an outstretched hand,
the pinnacle choice of life for every man.
Grace's hand is still open to you.
Will you take it?
Who is this man who hangs like fruit from a tree baking beneath the sun shrunken, shriveled like a prune, writhing in misery?
Who is this man whose flesh is being used like lumber – cold, iron nails piercing hands and feet, under the weight of the world, under the weight of a pounding hammer?
Who is this man who forgives while being crushed by their sin, who turns the other cheek while being jeered and spat at time and time again?
Who is this man who cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, who breathes his last breath and swings motionless from a tree?
Who is this man whose death shakes the earth at her core, who brings the roars of thunder, and tore the veil of the Temple, open for all forevermore?
And who is this man who Death couldn’t hold, older than the dawn of time, grander than the universe itself, who creates anew, who constantly unfolds?
He is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Christ. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Light that conquers the darkness. He is the inspirational force of creation. He is the sound blaring in the silence. He is Deus Homo.
Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy. You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!
Metamorphosis A Poem About Butterflies and God's Grace
Inching along the earth
crunching, munching on misfortune
until pain wrapped itself like a cocoon -
a castle outside the rooms of a hardened heart.
Drowning, surely dying in the dark.
Only to emerge from the womb
reborn from a tomb of self-inflicted wounds
transformed by the Divine spark.
With wings of vibrant color
carrying the evidence of change
arrayed like a roadmap
dotted with places been
and places going.
Flapping with the wings of grace
embraced by the breeze of blessing
a chrysalis replaced,
made anew by the Spirit's pressing.
They say follow your heart,
but I'm thoroughly convinced
mine doesn't know where
the hell it's going.
They say the heart wants
what the heart wants.
Mine wants to pull down the shades
and get rip-roaring drunk.
They say love yourself.
I think if I love myself any more
I'm going to join Narcissus
at the bottom of that damn pool.
They say put yourself first,
but I'm so far in the lead
that there's no one left
for me to pass.
But He says
I'm broken beyond belief,
that my heart is deceptive,
and can't be trusted.
He says that only fools
follow the desires of the heart
because they lead to
bottomless pits, never satisfied.
He says quit staring
at yourself in that mirror,
that my hope isn't found in self love,
it's in the depth of His love.
He says the first shall be last
and to love my neighbor as myself,
to help pick up the wounded runners
rather than worry about what place I finish in.
I love my heart,
which is why it's so painful to admit
that His Word sounds like truth,
and culture sounds like childish chatter.