The man who wasn’t crucified

In church today, during sacrament meeting, one of the speakers made a comment that he heard once from a Baptist Preacher: “Jesus had to be treated like Barabbas for Barabbas to be treated like Jesus.” I thought that was an intriguing thought, and I turned it into this poem. 

The man who wasn’t crucified

Imagine yourself as Barabbas. 
Facing certain death
For your mistakes and crimes:
Murder, sedition, and insurrection.

Suddenly, guards bring you out in chains. 
The crowd is angry, but not at you —
At a strange, quiet man,
Who doesn’t look like a criminal. 

Pilate asks who the crowd will free,
And somehow, they call your name. 
In disbelief, but also relief, you walk away,
Chains unlocked, now a free man. 

Maybe you later go watch the man on the cross,
Dying instead of you. 
Or later hear stories of how he lived
And did miracles for the poor. 

Maybe you later change your life
When given this second chance,
And try to live as that man, Jesus, no longer could,
To make up for his unjust death.

One thing I know, that fateful day,
When the innocent man died,
Barabbas was not the only man
Whose life was saved by Jesus’ death. 

The Jerusalem News

I was reading through my old mission notebook and found this fun little poem. I thought it was a cool way of saying that if we aren’t willing to open ourselves up to Christ, no amount of evidence will change that.

The Jerusalem News

Originally written 9/19/2018

The daughter ran home excitedly,
“Dad, I saw up on the road
a man who healed the sick
and cast out devils from the poor!”

The father looked up at his girl
from his morning Jerusalem News
and said “Sweetie, I’m sure it’s false
and a scam, it isn’t true.”

She came back another day,
“Dad, the man I talked about,
raised his friend from up the dead,
he stood and walked around!”

The dad sat, unimpressed,
with the morning paper and said,
“It’s all a fake, I’m sure of it.
I know what I’ve read.”

The daughter trudged in sad one day,
“That wondrous man of miracles —
they took him, now he’s dead.
It’s just so unbelievable.”

“Serves him right,” the father said,
“He taught odd, new things.
He said he was the Son of God,
he said he was our King.”

A few days later, she ran inside,
bursting through the door:
“He came back! He’s risen!
He came to life once more!”

The father shook his head.
“He can’t even stay dead right.”
He turned back to his newspaper
and read in the morning light.

Those who look and come to Christ
see the miracles He’s done,
see Him as who he really is —
God’s miraculous son.

But those who look no further
than the things they read or hear
Never get the wonderful blessing
of having their Savior near.

Always Remember Him

I really enjoyed general conference, and I will likely have some poems in future weeks about some of the messages. For this week, here is a poem I wrote on my mission:

Sep 03, 2018

My poem for this week was written in answer to a question my brother James had: How can we literally fulfill the commandment to “always remember Christ?” When I first heard this question, my mind went to a quote I had heard by President Eyring: “I have learned… something about always remembering. Fathers and mothers who love their children already know it. It is this: The child may be absent. The cares of the day may be great. Yet love for the child can be ever present in the heart of the parent, coloring and shaping every word, every act, and every choice.” I once thought, on my mission, that the Gospel should impact every part of our lives. I thought about it, and my mind thought “There is no way that the Gospel can influence the way I clip my fingernails.” With a little bit of thought, and D&C 42:41, I realized that we are commanded to be clean, and therefore it does matter. Maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch, and it’s certainly an odd metaphor, but the gospel affects everything from how we work (be diligent and be honest, etc.), to everything we let it affect. That kind of relates to my poem. (It made more sense in my head):

Always Remember Him

We’re commanded, and we promise
Each week we eat the bread,
To “always remember Him”
Who made salvation possible.

But how can we remember,
Every second, minute, moment,
And still live a life-
Still think, still survive.

I don’t know the perfect answer,
But perhaps my thoughts might help
In understanding how we can
Keep our covenants.

First, I don’t think Christ means
That every moment, in our conscious thought,
We must think His name-
That just wouldn’t work.

But I think part of what He means
Is that every act and every word
Must be because of who we are-
Followers of Him.

When I help an old woman
Onto a bus, I don’t think (actively, at least):
“I must remember Christ”, but
I remember Him in what I do.

I don’t believe our life has any piece
That the gospel, if lived, cannot touch.
And so, as we consistently do what He would do,
We will find that we always remember Him.

Take my hand

This last week, I had an experience helping a friend who wanted to self-harm. Some of my thoughts about that experience developed into the first stanza in this poem, and the rest of the poem followed. 
I don’t personally struggle with temptations to self-harm. If you’re reading this and you do struggle with those thoughts, please know that you are loved. 

Take my hand 

“I cut my wrists,
So I know I won’t feel comfortable in heaven.”
Christ said, “my wrists were cut for you, 
Take my hand and you will be comfortable with me.”

“I’m different, I’m made fun of, 
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “I was mocked for being different, 
Take my hand, you belong with me.”

“My friends say I’m not good enough, and they left me,
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “in my darkest hour, my friends abandoned me, 
Take my hand, and I’ll always be your friend.” 

“I fail, and fail, and fail, and fail to choose the right, 
So I know I’m not worthy to be in heaven.”
He said, “I know how hard it is to choose to drink the bitter cup,
Take my hand, I can make you worthy.”

“The world has taken from me, and abused me, 
So I know there’s not enough of me left to go to heaven.”
He said, “the world abused and hurt me, too. 
Take my hand, I know you are enough.”

“Others are so much more righteous than I 
So I know I’ll never make it into heaven.”
He said “there’s room for everyone who wants, 
Take my hand, and you’ll make it with me.”

“I doubt myself, I doubt in you sometimes,
So I know I won’t hold on all the way to heaven.”
He said, “I will come back to you as many times as you need. 
Take my hand for this next step.”

“I’m a terrible person, I’ll never be worthy of love
So I know I’m not worth your help.”
He said, “Take my hand, and follow me.
Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without you there.”

Believers at the edge

This is a slightly different style than the poems I usually write, but I wanted to try something new. I was listening to a talk by Hank Smith about believing, and he used the example of Charles Blondin crossing Niagara falls on a tightrope. I love this example and sent home a poem about it from my mission. I liked the point he made, though, and tried to get that across in this poem.

Believers at the edge

10,000 gathered on the American edge,
10,000 gathered on the Canadian edge,
To see the Great Blondin
Cross Niagara on a tightrope.

Cheers rose as he crossed once,
Louder as he crossed back,
Then he grabbed a wheelbarrow,
And shouted to the crowd:

“Do you believe that I can walk
And roll this wheelbarrow along, too?”
They all shouted, “We believe!”
And cheered him on to go.

“That’s good that all of you believe,
But I only need one volunteer.
Who will sit in the wheelbarrow,
As I walk across the falls?”

Silence fell. The crowd grew still.
Nobody raised a hand.
“What?” the Great Blondin cried,
“I thought you said you believed?”

Who’s a believer?
The person who stands
And dares to tell the whole ward
They believe?

That is truly wonderful,
But to be a believer
Does what you choose to do
When not in church matter, too?

“I’m so glad,”
Says God,
“That you believe in me,
Will you get up and leave this movie?”

Or “I’m happy,”
Says He,
“That you have such a testimony.
Will you share it with your friends?”

Daniel was a believer,
Praying when he knew of the lion’s den,
David was a believer,
Facing goliath with only a sling in his hand.

Nephi was a believer,
Going back for the plates when he once again failed,
Joseph was a believer,
Leading Christ’s church though hell and earth assailed

Christ was a believer,
Drinking the bitter cup he wished could pass.
Am I a believer,
Living up to what my Redeemer asks?

I don’t know if, today, I’d answer yes,
That I’d hop in the Great Jesus’ wheelbarrow.
I don’t have perfect faith,
Or perfect trust in my Perfect God,

But I’m an idealist falling far short
Of ideals I yearn, someday, to live.
I’ll let Him carry me across smaller waterfalls,
I’ll build my trust in Him.

I’ll show my faith in little things,
And my faith, like a seed, will grow.
Until I, a believer at the edge,
Will choose unhesitatingly to trust Him.

He Lived for Us

This poem stuck me as a great one to go along with Alma 34, which I read this week for Come Follow Me. is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. I especially think about verse 10, where Amulek describes the Atonement as an “infinite and eternal” sacrificed. This has always struck me as odd, because although I certainly see that the effects of Christ’s sacrifice are infinite and eternal, the sacrifice itself seems to have been limited in time and scope. Christ gave up his life, but he was resurrected. He suffered, but He is not suffering now. If any of you have any insight into this, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

One thought I’ve had is that part of the sacrifice that Christ made was sacrificing His life as He lived it to be an example and to be worthy to perform the Atonement. He sacrificed His will entirely and for all eternity, not just in the Garden of Gethsemane when pleading if the cup could pass from Him. 

He Lived for Us

Written on my mission, May 6, 2018

On a mission one spends a lot of time studying and pondering the Atonement. One thing I have been struck with was that Christ didn’t just come down to earth, suffer, die, and resurrect. First, He lived a life. A perfect life. That means that every single choice, every single temptation faced, would have to be faced and overcome perfectly. I can’t imagine the sort of pressure this was on Him, but I am fortunate that because of His perfect life, our lives, though far from perfect now, can become better.

His first steps were not on the road to the hill called Calvary.
His first breath was not taken in the Garden Gethsemane.
His hands were first a carpenter’s hands, before nailed to the cross.
Before He died, our Savior and Redeemer lived for us.
 
Christ was born in Bethlehem, a baby in a manger.
He grew from grace to grace, though to temptation was no stranger.
He always chose the harder right, never the easier wrong.
The Mighty God Jehovah served the weak He was among. 

He taught us how to live our lives, He said, “Come, follow Me.”
He did good long before he died for us on Calvary.
He fulfilled His father’s will in all things from the start,
Until the end, upon the cross, when sin’s pain broke his heart.

He is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with our grief,
But He knew the way to give true healing and relief
Was to be perfect—to bear the weight of the world in every deed.
And when we make His soul an offering for sin, he’ll see His seed.

It’s as if He walked a tightrope over a pit to save a friend—
One misstep and down He’d fall, a poor and unhappy end.
But Christ was perfect! Every step was straight and strong and true
So He could qualify as sacrifice and die for me and you.

He’ll look back, and He can see the travail on His great soul.
But if just one man, through His sacrifice, can be made pure and whole,
He shall be satisfied, His joy in heaven how sublime.
How great a man, my Jesus Christ, how perfect and divine.

Would I See Him

Sent home from my mission Aug 07, 2017

The poem I want to share with you this week is one I wrote half of in the MTC around Christmastime, and I finished the rest of it out in the mission field. I thought about what kind of person I would be if I lived in the time of Christ—would I be a shepherd who went and worshiped the baby Jesus, or would I be one of the hundreds or thousands of other people in Bethlehem to whom this was just another baby? 

Would I See Him?

If I’d walked the roads of Palestine
in older, simpler years,
would I have seen a man
drying people’s tears?
Would I listen to His words 
and choose to follow where He goes,
or would I spit on Him, reject Him,
there in Calvary, alone?

If I’d walked the roads of Bethlehem
on a certain silent night,
Would I have seen a baby
in swaddling clothes wrapped tight?
Would I have knelt and sang his praise
and worshiped Him, my Christ, that day,
or would I have been too busy
and continued on my way?

And in the paths I’m on today
in this loud and noisy world,
do I make time to see my Savior
and His gospel flag unfurled?
To pray for truth, and seek His grace
and follow what He taught,
or will I never feel His hand in mine
and do the works He wrought?

As I seek to walk His paths,
and simply serve my brother,
will someone see me, and notice 
as I try to help another?
Will they see my work and think of Him
who served us each so selflessly?
I don’t know, but I did my part
And I that’s enough for me.

Christ never said

I was reading Mosiah 24 for Come Follow Me this week (I’m a little behind) and I was struck by verse 14, where Christ seems to show that helping us in our afflictions is more important for us to build faith than delivering us from our afflictions. I decided to expand on that idea with other instances from scripture.

Christ never said

Christ never said that storms wouldn’t come,
He said He’d be a refuge when they raged. (Isaiah 25:4)

Christ never said we would not have trials,
He said He’d visit us in our afflictions. (Mosiah 24:14)

Christ never said He would keep us from wandering away,
He said He’d come and find us when we do. (Luke 15:4-7)

Christ never said we would not have grief or sorrow,
He said that with His stripes we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:4)

Christ never said we would be perfect in this life,
He said He would succor us in our infirmities (Alma 7:11-13)

Christ never promised we would never cry,
He said He would wipe away all tears from our eyes. (Revelations 21:4)

Christ never said we would not be heavy laden,
He said He’d give us rest, and make our burdens light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Christ never said that life would not be hard,
He said He would be with us always, even to the end (Matthew 28:20)

Redeemer

Redeemer

If every bad thought
were a stone you had to carry everywhere,
how grateful you would be
if someone helped you lift the pack
and let you walk again.

If every unkind word
were a year you could never see your family,
how grateful you would be
if someone offered to take on your lonely decades
and let you hug your family again.

If every hurtful deed
were a stab wound in your flesh,
how grateful you would be
to the doctor who bound and healed your wounds
and let you live without pain again.

And yet,

when every bad thought would always weigh us down from happiness,
when every unkind word would keep us from our family forever,
when every hurtful deed would lead to everlasting pain and death,
how often we forget
the Man who suffered, struggled, and died
to let us live again.

The Great Minister

Originally published 11-03-19

I had stake conference this weekend, and one of the speakers, talking about ministering said a line I really liked. I expanded the idea and turned it into a poem.

The Great Minister

I’ve never raised the dead
        back to life,
never been able to say “I know
        exactly what you’re going through,”
or “I’ve suffered through that so you
        don’t have to,”
never made a mountain move
        or multiplied loaves and fish.
never made up for every loss,
        every broken dream.
never “wiped away tears
        from off all faces.”
never been a perfect example
        to lead the way back home,
never died to save my friends
        and enemies,
never changed the world.

But, like the Man who did those things,

I can take somebody’s hand
        and lift them higher.
I can weep with those
        who just need to cry right now.
I can help make tiny miracles happen,
        with my simple prayers and faith.
I can follow gentle promptings
        and bless those I am near.
I can wipe one tear
        off of one face.
I can be a friend, be close
        to those who suffer.
I can let my candle,
        however dim, show the way.
I can give some hours of my life
        to help someone in need
I can change a life.