Opus Dei – A Poem About the Work of God In Your Life

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Opus Dei – A Poem About the Work of God In Your Life

Your hot breath has blown on me
and provided the oxygen for glowing embers of love
where there was once nothing but cold, hard coals.

You’ve cultivated my soul
and provided the rich, black soil for roots of patience
where there was once rash temperament without restraint.

Your loving hands have lifted my head hung low in shame,
while your fierce winds have blown like a cyclone across a barren desert,
beginning to level this wall of pride.

You’ve provided for me a solid fortress
deep in the heart of your city
with ramparts tall and wide, impenetrable by the sufferings of this world.

You’ve blessed me with the gift of wisdom, to pause for breath.
I once dove headfirst into life’s battles like a torpedo of chaos without thought,
only to be whipped into retreat, scrambling for cover alone in the dark.

Your tongue has embraced my closed eyelids;
your passionate kiss has restored my sight.
You’ve given me a new pair of eyes able to see farther than myself.

Your loving discipline has provided the humility capable of producing laughter
when I take myself too seriously,
caught up in grandiose schemes and dreams of personal glory.

You’ve implanted in me fragments of courage.
Each day I’m getting more comfortable stripping off clothes of delusion
and encouraging the world to look at my naked frame; imperfect, bound in anxious chains.

You’ve taught me how to sow, where I once only reaped.
The seeds of contemplation have grown into hope,
setting my heart on distant destinations, where not long ago I accepted defeat.

The Spirit moves in incalculable paces like a dancer swayed by rhythmic beats.
You’ve given me a new appreciation for the wind, smirking at how it blows wherever it wishes; I was once engulfed by anxiety embracing unpredictable forces.

Faith has given me footsteps where my feet were once immobile, heavy as iron.
Fear remains, but it doesn’t incapacitate me.
I can walk on water as long as my vision is focused on you.

I’m no longer terrified of your wrath; you’ve given me the green light
to doubt, to challenge, to investigate, to verify, but you’ve also allowed
my heart to accept that sometimes our walk requires steps of blind faith.

It’s becoming easier to call you Captain and turn over the keys to my fate,
finally able to humbly accept that I am incapable of steering this ship,
understanding your hands are the only ones qualified to take the helm.

You’re consistent affirmations are beginning to ease my mind over finite time.
I once restlessly rattled the cage, unceasingly beat and banged
upon the heavy door of immorality, feeling owed admittance.

But you make peace of mind a possible reality; detached from the bondage of self, starved from the selfish desires of the flesh. You give me food filled with substance where I once only chewed and swallowed emptiness.

I am far from at peace.
I am not absent of fear.
I am still riddled by questions without answers.
I am not unmoved by my sufferings.
I come unhinged by my own madness.
I am inhibited by narcissistic obsessions.
I am wavered by trials.
I can be found in moments of doubt.
I still unsheathe my tongue as a weapon.
I am sometimes caught without showing patience.
I am occasionally guarded and scoff at love.
I still sometimes rage against offering others my hand or my time.
I am not always victorious over my passions.
I fall prey to temptations.

Yes, I admit that I am far from perfect.
But your perfection is slowly, but surely
working to change me into a better man.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Opus Dei – Latin for the work of God


 

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Grace – A Poem

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Grace – A Poem

I am awed by the way you move me
like freshly fallen snowflakes dusting across the frozen ground.
Some days I forget the barren tundra from which I came
and how you whispered by name, echoing across that vacant landscape
so that a lost soul could be found.

Some days time passes by me without a single thought
that each waking moment is a treasure –
a gift granted, light years away from being deserved.
But despite all my wrongs and all the foolish footpaths
I chose to walk, in my time of desperation I called
and without hesitation you answered.

Each single second is abounding opportunity,
a renewed possibility for new life.
My destination was one I was unable to arrive at
by the work of my own hands, but while I lingered,
withering away in the darkness, you nestled me
within your loving embrace and brought me back into the light.

The fact that I breathe and my heart beats
is a living testament to your endless love and grace.
May I never forget from where I came and that each day is a gift
that I should unceasingly praise and never waste.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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The Black Veil – A Poem

5150943940_b94fffd722_bThe Black Veil – A Poem

I wear this black veil of despair
Like the wrappings of a mummy,
Covering my self-inflicted wounds.

My face frozen in cold, blank stare
Trapped within my tomb,
Alone in my room.

Why do you continue to test me?
Why do you hold out savory meat
Only to snatch it from my hands?

It is wrong for me to question your authority,
To question the good of your plans,
To hold you in contempt, unable to understand?

I wear this lonely shroud of betrayal.
Spend my days wondering
Why is it I who should be denied?

Haven’t I sought to be faithful?
Why are the wicked given an easy ride,
Never facing near the trials you’ve thrown in my life?

Is it too much to ask
For an outlet to this love,
Just to have a companion by my side?

Each time the die is cast
Comes another lashing to my pride,
Another time where I’d discarded and thrown aside.

Why is it that romantic lovers
Are often the ones alone,
While cheaters, liars, thieves, and betrayers come home to open arms?

But though anger stirs, I’ll patiently wait to discover
Why you seem set on placing me in the midst of harm,
Why alone is always where you think I belong.

I wear this black veil of despair,
But I trust that you know more
Than what sits before my somber scene.

I guess that life is not always fair,
So be my rock upon which I lean
As I wait in solitude until you send to me my queen.

-Poem by Justin Farley


 

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Be Aware. Be Alert. Be Ready – A Commentary For Advent

No One Knows That Day and Hour

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place their will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

-Matthew 24:36-51

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Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, and my personal favorite time of the year for reflection and prayer. Advent is particularly seen as a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is also a time period for those of us in the northern hemisphere where the days are colder, days are getting shorter, and where your work days begin and end in the dark.

But winter is not just a season of darkness, but also of stillness and quiet. Though we are called everyday of the year, Advent in particular gives us a chance to reconnect with our center, spend time in quiet prayer; and be aware, alert, and ready for the coming of Christ.

The scripture reading above is not popular; it does not make us feel warm and fuzzy and is easily tossed aside because we don’t want to confront the truth – that we will be held accountable for our actions and there will come a time when Jesus comes again.

Furthermore, I think it really shakes up our image of Jesus as this fun loving character; this hippie with long hair, a beard,  is all about peace and love, and doesn’t really care about how you live your life as long as you believe in him. Many people have no problem with the New Testament, but swear off the Old as archaic and filled with a God they want no part of. The New Testament is often seen as containing a God of love, while the Old Testament is riddled with a God of anger and wrath.

The problem is that if we have that preconceived notion, it means we haven’t been reading very carefully. If we see Jesus as just our buddy who never judges our behavior and offers us unconditional love and grace without any hard truths, we’ve been cherry picking his teachings. We come across passages such as the one above and either purposely skip over them or water them down by saying, “Well, he didn’t actually mean it that way…he was just being extreme to make a point.” We must be very careful and make sure we are serving the real Jesus, and not the culturally cool Jesus. The same God who resides in the Old Testament resides in the New.

Jesus warns us that there will be a time of judgement and one person will be left, while the other one taken. he stresses, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” As if the fact that some will be left behind is not scary enough, even more frightening is that I don’t believe he is referring to “good” and “bad” people. If that was the case, there would be little use in giving a long sermon about being alert and ready. For the most part, I think we all know whether we fall into society’s class of “good” or “bad”. No. I don’t think he is preaching to wicked people; he is directing it at believers who are asleep or have not fully given their life over to him.

Being a follower of Jesus is not an easy walk. There are time periods in our lives where it is not convenient socially or personally to stay true to the Gospel. How many times have you desired to develop a closer relationship with God or known you need to change certain behaviors, but you put it off to a later date because you’re too busy, too young, too proud, or not ready yet? I know I have countless times and still continue to use those excuses.

For the overwhelming majority of the population, I think we believe in God, want a relationship with him, and want to be a “good” person; but now is never a good time. We’ll get around to it next year, 10 years from now, when we retire, or before we die. And we are exactly the people Jesus is referring to as the “wicked servant” who puts off his duty and falls into sinful behaviors because “my master is delayed”.

Jesus does not say, “if the Son of Man comes”, but “the Son of Man is coming”. When he does, will I be ready? Personally, I have always wondered how so many of the Jews could deny Jesus when there were prophecies all throughout the scriptures promising that he would come. How could they be right next to him and not know he was the Messiah? I think it’s for the same reason that we believe in him, but don’t alter our behaviors or procrastinate following him – it’s not easy and forces us to let go of our ego and selfish desires. They could not see Jesus for who he was because they were not alert or ready, even though God promised he would come.

God has also promised us that he will come again. Let us not be like the Pharisees, but be ready and be doing the master’s work when he returns. I think we all have a conceived notion of the End of the World as some drawn out event  in which we can quickly change our ways before it’s too late. But in the parable of the servant and the master, Jesus portrays a much different view. We have already been warned that he’s coming, so if we’re not ready it’s because we haven’t listened and are wicked.

It’s not just the End of the World that we have to worry about. No one knows the time of place they’ll die. It could be tomorrow; it could be 50 years from now. But don’t wait to do the master’s work until he surprises you at your door.

I don’t think Jesus used the passage to scare us, but because he loves us. Who lets their child go into a dangerous situation without warning them first? God is no different. He is merely trying to get our attention that we need to not take this lightly and need to be prepared.

During this Advent season, as we prepare for the birth of Christ, let us retreat into the silence and open our minds and hearts to what God is speaking to us. Let us analyze our behaviors and motives, making sure that we are alert and ready for the Light of the World. Let us take this season to finally fully commit our life to Jesus and not put it off any longer, so that we can joyfully embrace the master when he arrives home and not be surprised and ashamed when he knocks at the door.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

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The Mirror of Truth – A Poem

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The Mirror of Truth – A Poem

Into the mirror I gaze
and am wrapped within the frame
of a smoky haze of secrets swirling within glass.

I can’t deny the face,
can’t pretend I don’t know,
have no trace of realization that the figure before my eyes is me.

It’s unsettling to see the darkness,
to discover the demons in the flesh,
to witness my flaws, flogging me in the face.

Beneath this mask of pride,
there is a face scorched and seared
by lies, deceit, and by the heat of betrayal.

I know the image I wish to see,
I know the reflection my heart believes;
but within me is a darkness I prefer not to acknowledge.

The mirror of truth does not lie,
does not flinch when it brings onlookers to their knees,
does not hide delusions, but pierces the veil of our ego.

The mirror of truth is a loving master,
a humbling stone meant to trip our feet,
a pastor to turn us towards joy and away from the bonds of slavery.

I may not like the face that stares back at me,
I may not like the icy eyes, the lips of pride,
but I have the opportunity to reconstruct my image.

Morning sun, be my witness –
when you lay down to rest tonight, the flames may remain
fueled by my darkness, but will crackle beside the waters of love and grace.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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Build Within Me A Foundation of Thanksgiving – A Poem of Praise to God

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Build Within Me A Foundation of Thanksgiving – A Poem of Praise to God

May your rays of righteousness
pierce through the clouds and shadows of my heart.

May my mind give way to your fruit –
take up your shears and prune these vines that ensnare me.

Give thanks, give praise to the tree of life,
whose branches stretch out into infinity’s depths.

Give thanks, give praise to the tree of life,
whose leaves cover and provide shelter from worldly strife.

May wisdom flow like a river, filling my well –
knowledge of you soothing my parched lips and restoring my soul.

May I not walk by the power of my own two feet,
but make the journey through life on my knees, yielding to your majesty.

If I find nothing to be grateful for, nothing to praise you for,
surely my eyes are closed like curtains to the light of morning.

If my ears do not hear your name praised throughout the forest,
surely I am deaf to the songs and melodies of mother nature.

Build within me a foundation of thanksgiving –
a cornerstone on which my heart and soul rests.

Build within me an unquenchable thirst to praise your name,
never ceasing to be marveled by the brilliance of your glory.

Still the river of desire that flows through the heart of man,
unceasingly paddling down torrential waters, never satisfied, never able to rest.

Still the winds of lust, of jealous breezes,
our noses consistently sniffing for scents trying to sense what we don’t have.

Let our hearts not beat for what we’re missing,
but become firmly grounded in the grace which we already have.

Let our hearts not beat for foolish wishes,
but boil over with thanksgiving for your endless bounty and be glad.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Everyday Miracles – A Poem About Finding God in Ordinary Things

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Everyday Miracles – A Poem About Finding God in Ordinary Things

The clamor of your wisdom claps
like a thousand hands in unison throughout the forest,
calling from every treetop,
and whispering within every breath the north wind blows.
Your wisdom can be found in the simplicity of a dew drop
and within the caw of a congregation of crows.

You are an invisible hand, always laboring,
opening and closing doors as you see fit –
not always on my time frame,
not always giving me access to the rooms I wish,
but often times I find ignorance is bliss.
For the paths I most yearn to walk down
you wall off, knowing they lead to my demise.

You are the wise King,
always leading, but serving unceasingly.
With each new day you bring,
I am astonished at your beauty –
as long as I make the time to open my eyes,
as long as my awareness is focused on you
and turned away from the desires of my mind.

Your miracles come in small packages,
constantly sent, but rarely opened.
I look for you in grandiose experiences,
but you keep gently tugging at my sleeve,
urging me to put on my leather gloves
and dig for you in the dirt of the garden.

If I’m not careful,
I can become oblivious to the everyday mystery –
the beauty of a daffodil,
the way sunlight rests upon my windowsill,
the spirit that speaks when my mind gets still,
and the non-coincidental meetings of strangers,
sharing the exact conversations I need to hear.

Open my eyes when they are blind to your majesty,
so that I may witness your glory
in every root, rock, river, and ravine.
May I read the love letters you’ve written
upon every stump I pass in the forest,
every deer that crosses my path,
and every squirrel that leaps from limb to limb.
May I marvel at your everyday miracles
and find your fingerprints upon every piece of evidence
in this case called life.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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Upon This Rock – A Christian Poem of Grace

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Upon This Rock – A Christian Poem of Grace

Upon this rock I walk
Uncertain, yet composed.
Not crushed beneath the veil of darkness,
For with me always is a light that glows.
The demons of my weakness harass me.
Past failures breed doubts to future plans.
But upon this rock I’m free,
Caressed and cradled in loving hands.
Often I do not recognize my actions.
They are not in line with the man I know.
Ruthlessness is my natural reaction,
Yet somehow seeds of love are sown.
Anger still has moments of victory,
But the battles are swaying with tides of grace.
Love is beginning to reside within me,
Routing out my weeds of hate.
It is by no strong will of mine,
But because of this rock on which I stand.
It is only by the power of the Divine
That I am being transformed into a better man.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

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Waiting For Wisdom – Keeping Faith During Hard Times

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:5-11)

crossI believe the single greatest threat to trusting in God and having faith is suffering. We can try to spin suffering as a way to “refine” our character and in some cases I do believe that’s true. But what about lifelong suffering and tragic losses that seem to have no meaning whatsoever? This is an area where atheists really gain a lot of traction and rightfully so. These cases stir up questions like “if there really is a God, why does he allow suffering and evil?” And I don’t think any believer can give you a great answer. We’re told it’s sin and that God doesn’t like it either, but that doesn’t really do much for the person starving to death or that loses their young child. I am not arguing that this is not the case, but it doesn’t really provide much hope for the human spirit.

One of the main reasons that I’m a Christian is because it is the only religion that I know of that gives hope to that difficult question. While the gods of other religions tend to be distant and not care too much about human affairs, the Christian God through Jesus Christ not only cares, but willingly suffered for us. We may not know why, but we can’t say that God doesn’t care. If Jesus was obedient to the Father in the midst of  intense suffering, what right do I have to be excused from it? By God’s example, we are lifted up and find faith knowing that no matter how tragic our circumstances are, we have a God who cares and shares in our pain, regardless if we don’t understand why he allows it.

Doubt is strong and faith is hard to hold onto in today’s world. But doubt is no match for the power of the cross and the resurrection. For Jesus’ death and resurrection give us hope that there will come a day when suffering and evil are destroyed once and for all. He is on our side, and we have a High Priest who understands our pain.

 

Waiting For Wisdom

You have bound me in chains and cords
to your altar.
I am sacrificed every day and night
as a burnt offering to your name.
“Your servant hears”*
but your servant lies in pain.
I do not understand your trials,
nor the firmness of your grip,
squeezing the life out of me in your loving arms.
But I remain in the midst of confusion
and wait for wisdom.
My “whys” and “hows” may never be answered –
there will always remain a depth of mystery
to your being that man is never able to understand.
But in our times of suffering
we can be assured you share in our agony,
even if we don’t understand your plans.
For you willingly stretched out
your arms and legs like wooden boards
and allowed nails to be driven into your feet and hands.

*Quotation from 1 Samuel 3:10

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

 

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God’s Promises – A Christian Poem

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Stained Glass depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove

 

God’s Promises

It is said faith can move mountains,
So why are you still looking for a way around?
In the desert the Lord will raise fountains,
So why are you still worried water won’t be found?

It is said “a faintly burning wick he will not quench”*
A weak heart he will not break.
So why are you shielding your flame from the wind
And afraid when you feel your heart begin to ache?

He promises to uphold you
And keep you in his arms,
So why do you let trouble shake you
And believe you’ll come to harm?

He makes a new path for you,
But in terror you walk the other way.
Tries to give you clothes fresh and new,
But time and time again, you strip them away.

He promises to walk you through the trials.
Promises that you won’t be consumed by flames.
But still you live your life in denial,
Denying the power of his name.

Refining in the heat of his glory,
You believe he’s let go of you.
But turn towards the cross’s story
And remember the pain he bore for you.

 

(*Quoted text taken Bible verse from Isaiah 42:3)

If you enjoyed the post, you may be interested in my other Christian poems dealing with faith verses https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


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