Let Me Get Home Before Dark

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During my brief week in Florida in October I had the great privilege of meeting Phil and Julie Parshall, missionaries among Muslims for  over 40 years. When Mr. Parshall heard that I believe God to be leading me in a similar direction, he gave me one of the nine books he’s written about ministering among these people: The Cross and the Crescent: Understanding the Muslim Heart and Mind

Over Christmas break I practically inhaled this book (finished it in 4 days). In his chapter comparing and contrasting Christians’ and Muslims perspectives on sin and holiness, he includes this poem written by solid believer Roberston McQuilkin, at the end of his life (what mother names her child “Robertson”? Harsh.)

“It’s sundown, Lord

The shadows of my life stretch back

into the dimness of years long spent

I fear not death, for that grim for betrays himself at last,

thrusting me forever into life

life with You, unsoiled and free.

 

But I do fear.

I fear the Dark Spectre may come too soon —

or do I mean too late?

That I should end before I finish

or finish, but not end well.

 

That I should stain Your honor, shame Your name

grieve Your loving heart

Few, they tell me, finish well…

Lord, let me get home before dark.

 

The darkness of a spirit

grown mean and small

fruit shriveled on the vine, bitter to the taste of my companions

a burden to be borne by those brave few who love me still.

No, Lord. Let the fruit grow lush and sweet

a joy to all who taste;

a Spirit-sign of God at work

stronger, fuller, brighter at the end.

Lord, let me get home before dark.

 

The darkness of tattered gifts

rust-locked, half-spent or ill-spent.

A life that was once used of God

now set aside.

Grief for glories gone

or fretting for a task God never gave.

Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory.

Gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone

Cannot I run well unto the end?

Lord, let me get home before dark.

 

The outer me decays–

I do not fret or ask for repreive.

The ebbing strength weans me from mother earth

and grows me up for Heaven.

I do not cling to shadows cast by immortality.

I do not patch the scaffold lent to build the real, eternal me.

I do not clutch my cocoon about me,

vainly struggling to hold hostage a free spirit pressing to be born.

 

But will I reach the gate

in lingering pain, body distorted, grotesque?

Or will it be a mind wandering

untethered among light fantasies or grim terrors?

Of Your grace, Father, I humbly ask…

Let me get home before dark.”

Parshall ends the section in saying, “May this be our prayer as well.”

At first, as I read this poem, considering its context as the finale of a parade of the lives of Christian heroes, I found myself getting inspired.But as I continued, the inspiration was quickly challenged by a powerful feeling of defeat. I just kept thinking, “How could I ever end up like this? How could I finish my life with such solid faith? Such unshakable determination? So fixed on Jesus? How could I remain faithful to the end? Who am I kidding?”

Pretty nasty thoughts. Soon my mind flashed to a scene years back in a local coffee shop with my mentor. I was explaining to her how frustrated I was with myself; once I again I was thick in the battle with my most constant enemy: pride.

“It’s like there’s no middle ground! I’m either the greatest thing to ever grace the planet, or I’m absolute garbage.”

And this was definitely a garbage moment.

The Holy Spirit has been convicting me these past few months about my insecurity. I am not seeing myself as Jesus sees me; I’m not allowing my identity to be in Christ. Instead, I base my security on my performance, on my acceptance from those I most dearly admire and love, on my “faith” and “righteousness”. What I’ve noticed is… it’s all on me. So when I do “well”, I’m proud and flying high. But when I fall short of my set standards, gravity takes over. I’m flat on my back, knocked breathless. Both astonished that I fell and mystified that I ever thought I could be anywhere but face down in the dirt. Covered in feelings of worthlessness and shame; thinking, “How can God stand to be with me?”

My deepest desire this year (call it my New Year’s Resolution) is to be transformed down to the roots of my struggle with insecurity. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why I’ve chosen to write this moment down. I want to be able to remember and, Lord willing, identify change and growth when further along in my journey towards Christ-centered identity.

Jesus, help me to see myself as You see me. Help me to take You at Your Word and walk in it. Help me to believe You. And Lord, let me get home before dark.

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About Jessi Journeyer

I'm a young woman who's been blessed with enough experiences to know that if you don't record what God is teaching and doing in you while it's happening, you're likely to forget His work and therefore miss some of the possible benefits. Initially started as my attempt to sort out the lessons God gave me in Bible School, this online-journal has grown into an ongoing chronicle of God's work and voice in my life, an attempt to sort-out the great soup of thoughts, questions and ponderings that are stirring in my heart and mind. For my benefit and, maybe, for yours.

One response »

  1. What a wonderful post! I love the poem…..that would be my heart’s prayer also, to let me get home before dark, and to let my family get home before dark. I like Jer. 32:40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.” I can turn that into a prayer for myself and for those that I love.

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