08 February 2007

A Frowning Providence

I finished Behind a Frowning Providence last night. This little gem is full of comfort and wisdom from the Puritans as well as author John J. Murray, including several poetic excerpts. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes.

The most wise, righteous and gracious God doth often-times leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their own hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

The Westminster Confession of Faith
I walked a mile with pleasure,

She chatted all the way,

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow

And ne’er a word said she,

But oh the things I learned from her,

When sorrow walked with me.

Every work of Christ towards His people carries something more great and precious in the bosom of it than we are capable at the time of understanding.

Ralph Erskine

The vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction and then the wine of glory is poured in.

Thomas Watson
Prayer Answered by Crosses

I asked the Lord, that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace, 

Might more of his salvation know, 

And seek more earnestly his face.

'Twas he who taught me thus to pray, 

And he, I trust has answered prayer; 

But it has been in such a way, 

As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour, 

At once he'd answer my request: 

And by his love's constraining power, 

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel 

The hidden evils of my heart; 

And let the angry powers of hell 

Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seemed 

Intent to aggravate my woe; 

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried; 

Wilt thou pursue this worm to death? 
‘Tis in this way," the Lord replied,

"I answer prayer for grace and faith.

"These inward trials I employ, 

"From self and pride to set thee free; 

"And break thy schemes of earthly joy, 

"That thou may’st seek thy all in me."
John Newton

02 February 2007

Opus #10

How I begrudge the sparrow plain,

Tho’ unadorned, subdued,

Unprepossessing, indistinct,

Appears not ornate-hued,

Yet she has wings to fly away,

Escaping earthly care.
She leaves her burdens far below,

And dances on the air.

She twirls and whirls and pirouettes

Across blue firmament,

Unweighed by earth’s persistent pull,

Exuberance unpent.

I stand beneath, observe her waltz,

While to take off I yearn.
She skirts o’er each impediment,

Her path still straight, unturn’d.

Fast fetter’d to my shackling grief,

I covet joy of flight;

But wingless, fixed, weighed down with dread,

I’m grounded from such height.

She’s gone from sight, I turn away,

Then pause… entreat… conclude:

Tho’ sorrow binds me to the earth,

God’s love is not so rude!

His grace puts flight within my grasp-

I tentatively praise,

As I mount up with eagles’ wings,

He clears away the haze,

Now weightless - Christ removes distress,

Lifts off my heavy care,

He smiles at me and takes my hand,

And we waltz on the air.

© Lynne Bourgault Spear, 2007