Of tasks and trials
of temples and temptations
of timelines and to-do lists
I am weary, weary
Oh, God, I’m tired
I want to do well again
I want to excel and win
But I am just so weary
I awake in a dark, wet, cave-like dungeon. The stench of human waste overwhelms me, and I remember that some of that stench belongs to me. And what other choice do I have here? It’s not like I can walk away from these chains to a proper bathroom facility. I’m not sure what’s worse: being isolated from my dearest friends or being bound to men who care as much about me as the rats that feed on the filth around me. The most I see of the outside world is the polluted rainwater and sewage that trickle down from the marketplaces above. I am always cold. I am always hungry. And I always hurt. Of the difficult places I’ve been, this is the most unpleasant.
I am left here with the memories of a dichotomous life and a desire to finish well. When I was younger, I was blessed by the fellowship of devout, honorable men. We took great care to “please God” with our hygiene, conduct, and diet. When I was younger, I was known as the man who was as close to perfect as could be attained. When I was younger, I was more unhappy than I’ve ever been.
Now, I’m not imprisoned here because I’m a dangerous man—at least not in the traditional sense. In fact, you could say that I’m here because I’m too loving. I love my God and Savior too much to stop living for Him.
My enemies have placed me here, and here I will patiently await the time of my trial. I have been in prisons like this one many times and have been released, but I feel an ever-growing confidence that this time will be my last.
Some of my friends have risked their lives to visit me here over the years. I cannot express my thankfulness for their faithful love. Even though this body of mine has been sorely abused, I am thankful. I am thankful to serve my God. He is the truly faithful one. I am in need of nothing. Whether or not I live on in this body, I do not fear. For I have learned no matter where I am to be content in the perfect provision of my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Yes, I am in prison for faithfully proclaiming the life-saving Gospel of Christ, which I continue to do even here. Yes, humanly speaking, my treatment is unjust. But let me tell you, I am exactly where God wants me. Yes, I will likely die soon at the hands of wicked men. But I can assure you of this, in spite of it all, I count this suffering as a true privilege. There is no place I would rather be than where God has placed me. I am Paul, and I am thankful to be here.
___________For further reading: Prisons in Paul’s World; Philippians 1:12-26; & 2 Timothy 4:5-22.
Behold the Lamb of God
Bruised, afflicted, crucified
Sacrificed for the sins of many
A wooden cross His altar
Forsaken by His Father in wrath
Then revived in perfect justice
Behold the spotless Lamb of God
Who reigns as mighty King
Behold the gentle Shepherd
Gracious, caring, kind
We are now His ransomed flock
Though we had gone astray
But as the holy Lamb of God
He wooed us to God’s royal fold
Where we are kept in safest care
Behold the Lamb, our Shepherd, God
O daddy loves you
Momma does too
O Alan Micah
How we love you
We love your smiles
And your blue eyes
Your gentle noises
And even your cries
O Alan Micah
Our little boy
Ours is a love
That none can destroy
Bigger and stronger
More handsome too
God made you special
And He loves you
Trust in the lord
With all of your heart
Honor His Word
And never depart
O Alan Micah
Our little boy
A gift from God
That fills us with joy
This story was not meant to be happy…
As I break from my busy day, I see through the eyes of my broken heart a young boy. He is a small child, but he is brave and strong.
He has seen what most could not imagine, but he lives calmly among common, everyday suburbanites. If you were a fellow 11 year old, you would never guess he’d been born into third world poverty. If you were his elementary teacher, you wouldn’t easily suppose he’d only lived in the U.S. for five years. If you called his name, you wouldn’t know by his response that it wasn’t the name his mother gave him. If you passed him on the street, walking beside his new mom, you’d be stunned to hear that he’d watched his childhood abductors drive a machete into his birth mother’s chest.
There were two who took him from his childhood home at the age of five, two sixteen-year-old boys. There were two, because evil desires companionship. There were two, because cowards don’t prefer to work alone. There were two, because one might have lost heart when he saw the depth of love that is shared between a mother and her son. One might have remembered his own mother who’d been snuffed out in a similar way only a decade before. Yes, two was safer. When boy soldiers were in high demand, there was no option for sentiment, no room for weakness. Two meant the job would get done.
I will call this child, Boyd, though his true name—his heart’s name—is Angelo. Boyd doesn’t mind being called by his new name, though. He likes it, in fact, because he is grateful for what it represents. It represents his freedom day.
When his abductors were caught and arrested only hours after they captured him, Boyd was placed in a children’s home. The small orphanage was filled with 147 other children, most of whom had similar stories to Boyd’s own tragedy. The long war had destroyed most of the families in his region. What few families the war had spared, disease and AIDS had quickly snatched.
Boyd was sharply aware, even at such a young age, that his hopes of escaping a life of hardship and pain were all but futile. Some older boys in the orphanage used to boast about who would sell the most drugs or sleep with the most hookers when they got turned out to the streets in a few years. These children had been orphans longer than Boyd, and they’d already forgotten much of what it was like to be safe and loved, to be held in the tender arms of a mother. Some didn’t remember their lives before at all. They’d been orphans since shortly after infancy.
Boyd was sickened by these sad ambitions. He wanted nothing to do with drugs or hookers. He wanted a mother, maybe even a father! What could drugs or prostitutes offer that a family could not ultimately surpass? Once, he had voiced these thoughts, and the other boys grew very quiet for a while. After a few uncertain moments, one of the older and more hardened boys had called him a little mommy’s boy who “had much to learn,” and the nonsense had quickly resumed. It was obvious that they had given up hope. Realizing this, a little more of Boyd’s own hope had died as well.
At night, Boyd would struggle for hours to overcome the terrors that made him tremble as he relived the memories of watching his mother’s death. He never let the other children know he was crying, but he couldn’t hold back the silent tears that shook his lonely little body. Each night his hope of rescue had grown fainter and weaker.
Boyd had never met his father. From a young age, he had dreamed that his father was alive and looking for him. He imagined a strong, handsome man who’d lost his way temporarily one day while hunting. He’d been convinced that his Papa had spent every waking moment since trying to find his family again. When he would speak of this to his mother, she would smile sadly and tell him to keep dreaming, that one day any dream might come true. She never told him to give up on the father who had abandoned them. In truth, she’d never given up on him herself.
Most of a year had passed since Boyd was placed in the orphanage, when two kind-eyed Americans came to visit. This was a day Boyd hoped never to forget for the rest of his life. This was the day of his freedom.
photo credit: http://www.fastfifty.net/Watoto-Boys