My Journey into Joy: A Lyrical Reflection on How I Became a Christian Hedonist

Earlier this week, I attended the Desiring God Conference for Pastors and really enjoyed John Piper's stirring talk, "Saying Beautifully As a Way of Seeing Beauty: The Life of George Herbert and His Poetic Effort."

The talk inspired me to (1) do more reading of Herbert on my own (I've enjoyed Herbert's poetry off and on through the years, and am now working through A Year with George Herbert: A Guide to Fifty-Two of His Best Loved Poems); and (2) dust off a poem of my own, written fifteen or sixteen years ago.

It's of course nothing close to quality of George Herbert's poetry, but as I reread it today, I was pleased with the assonance and rhyme of the poem and its effectiveness in communicating my own experience. I think the meter could use a little work in a couple of places, and I know there are a few lines that are too...sentimental? corny? or just a little forced?

Nevertheless, I'm taking the leap and putting this out there for all the world (well, at least the two or three dozen people who actually follow this blog!) to see.

My Journey into Joy: A Lyrical Reflection on How I Became a Christian Hedonist 

I rehearse the verse before me
To tell about my journey
Into a new philosophy
            That has changed my paradigm.
It's about a quest for pleasure
A search for lasting treasure
Of joy that's without measure
            That increases beyond time.

I see the first small fraction
Of my thirst for satisfaction
From the beauty and attraction
            Of a God that's glorious
In the pursuit of childhood joys
Through games and friends and toys
That seemed without alloys
            In those youthful days of bliss.

Memories in my mind do swarm
Back beyond the country farm
To fun sought without harm
            Though insufficient to suffice;
And to the waking days of teen
When I found my soul was lean
And childhood games were not as keen
            Though once they did entice.

And so I sought for other things
Thinking that they would bring
The endless pleasure that would sing
            Inside my deepest heart.
Perhaps success would fill my life,
Or maybe a person (a wife!)
Would cause to cease the strife      
            That tore my soul apart.

But all to no avail!
Each "greater thing" grew pale,
And seemed nothing but a tale,
            That held no authentic meaning.
For in all this desperate seeking
I found broken cisterns leaking
With emptiness yet sneaking
            Upon the next-sought dream.

I slowly, gradually realized
That I had often idolized
The things that had mesmerized
            My soul, and promised mirth.
I began to seek repentance
Mixed with broken penitence
For placing such significance
            On the trifles of the earth.

But the process was a gradual one
With steps and misteps and some
Outright departures from
            The Lord who promised peace;
The path to joyful blessing
Was one of slow progressing
And not a little regressing
            To the worldly ways of ease.           

In thoughts of retrospect I'm viewing
The Good Hand of Providence wooing
My sinful heart, and renewing
            The thoughts of my mind.
I see Him stealthily speeding
Into my heart by leading
Me through Scripture reading
            To prospects of the glory I would find.

An insight of truth I would discover
A gem of beauty I'd uncover
About the Lord, my Eternal Lover
            The One Who seeks my best.
From James I wrote a reflection
On the purpose of tribulation
How it yields perfection
            To those who beneath it rest.

In Psalm thirty-seven four
I got a glimpse of more
That would cause my heart to soar
            About desire and it's slaking.
And then in Jeremiah two thirteen
Another puzzle piece was seen
That showed me how my heart was keen
            On sinful cisterns of human making.

A pilgrim, along this path I trod
When a hymn was also used by God
To wean my soul from earth and prod
            Me closer to Him (Oh, His grace!)
'Twas of Christ, the soul's true desire
(Though others after earth aspire)
And seeking to His worth admire
            While gazing on His face.

A little later I found a book
And by surprise my mind it took
And made me at my soul to look
            And re-assess my creed.
I found that I had become a Stoic
Because I thought it more heroic
To seek God's praise while apathetic
            To my own pleasure and my need.

From John Piper I learned that day
That joyless worship is not God's way,
Because it fails His glory to display
            When I do not seek Him for my pleasure.
For if He's glorious, I'll in Him find,
Enough beauty to satisfy the mind
And take my wandering heart and bind
            Me to him as my treasure.

The truth in all its grandeur
Shined forth in noontide splendor
And touched my heart now tender
            In a way I'd never known:
That God is in me most glorified
When I am in Him most satisfied
And this my quest for joy intensified
            And drew me to His throne.

Now insights in my mind still race
As I behold the wonder of His grace
That causes me to seek His face
            And find my joy in Him.
This joy I've learned will never cease
But throughout eternity will increase
In boundless discovery of the glories
            Of God my satisfaction.

I'm still learning to apply
This wondrous truth that sanctifies
My soul from sin and magnifies
            His great and glorious name.
But though imperfect in my action
God's filled me with a holy passion
That springs from the majestic vision
            Of God, Who is Ever-Same.

Let me conclude by speaking forth
In my own words this glorious truth
About my joy and God's worth
            That I have come to treasure:
God's glory is His great delight
Which He pursues with all His might
By causing us to set our sight
            On Him - Our eternal pleasure.

1 comment:

mwh said...

That's a high level of poetic construction. I enjoyed that.

I've never really wrote poetry, but I enjoy it, whether it be Milton, Donne, or Frost.

It's not just truth that matters, but beauty too.