“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you met trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
~ James Bar Joseph
1982-1989 (7 years) A Child
I did not know you – My Creator.
I was like a thief:
I lived on your grace, not knowing or acknowledging my Owner –
The one who gave me life fourteen years ago.
I was seeking.
No. Not I.
You were drawing, in the fullness of your time, me to yourself
And I found my Redeemer.
My Master, you reconciled me to Yourself.
What blessedness to be a child of Thee!
Then for seven years I wandered aimlessly.
I strayed, yes, I did.
Like an unguided child,
Not knowing my destiny,
Or the journey to be.
Not till you led me.
Oh yes, it was you, the Sustainer of my renewed life.
You are the Shepherd who protected me, provided for me,
And yes, you guided me and showed me my destiny in the journey.
1989-1997 (8 years) A Young Man
Thank you, Lord, that you did not want me to be a maker of machines!
You showed me the most wonderful thing to spend my life on –
To bring the Word of God to win the souls of man.
Yes, Lord! I am willing!
Translating the Word, Transforming the World!
Is there anything greater?
Is there any job more worthy?
No, there’s none, I was sure.
I strayed for a little while.
The world taught me that I should be relevant, spectacular and powerful.
My soul fought back,
And I steeped further, deeper into the dark night of the soul...
It was three long years.
How blight and hopeless and bottomless was the pit of the night.
I yearned to be freed from the strife.
It was like two nations warring within,
A long, long battle, who will win?
Then on Mount Tamama.
How apt they named it: The High One.
But it is The Highest One for me!
It was there that I reached the Most High!
It was on that mountain top that I was set free!
Free to go, no more to withhold!
Free to serve, no more to worry
Of marry or money!
You sent torrents of bliss rushing through my soul,
Through and through.
You lifted me from the pit of the night,
And I walked no more alone, ever.
You have led me into my destiny.
1997-2007 (10 years) A Father
Not only did you pour light into my soul,
You, in your graciousness, satisfied my soul
With a mate unsurpassed.
A lovely deer, a graceful doe.
My Beauty, my Intimacy.
She who will be on adventure with me,
Strange things happened:
My elders, they became children!
They were bickering and chickering!
And Job’s three friends came along.
Or was it Job’s wife?
What’s her name?
They called me to quit!
“How can you go to the field under them?
These men they desire peace more than truth!”
But the only truth is: Man comes and goes...
Only my Lord is forever steadfast.
So must I be.
Once again, you sent me on my journey.
This time, with my soulmate and two soulings tackling along.
“Count it all joy!”
You have a sense of humour, Lord.
With the kangaroos and the wombats on the training ground,
We survived the year Down-under, but barely.
On graduation night they called out our award:
“Though Sickness and Health.”
Slipped disc, bronchitis, morning sickness, high fever and countless colds.
But nothing cuts the heart deeper than the reprimand of our unborn child.
An under-shephard is not pleased that our training should suffer for “it.”
“It”? God’s gift to me, an “it”?
Man comes and goes...
Where is that foe now?
You warmed our hearts with family and friends at the airport
On my 35th birthday.
You are steadfast, immovable in your purpose, abounding in love.
So must I be.
“Count it all joy!”
And now, here I am, Lord!
Right here where You called me to.
Where I ought to be,
At the centre of God’s will.
The Book though, I am not translating,
But other book-... I do the -keeping.
The Book, in their heart language, the men to not yearn!
The women, praising You in a tongue only the men had learnt!
When, O Lord?
When will they praise you from the bottom of their hearts
If they have no songs or scripture in their mother tongue?
Your Story, we tell:
The students, bowl-mouth, drink in the stream
That flows from Eden to the Golden City.
Your Word, we use:
The workers, some, open their hearts
To the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
But their minds,
Satan still binds...
But there is hope yet.
Let me not forget.
That you have drawn a young man to Yourself,
And also ourselves.
One who truly follows the Way;
One who desires to see the day
When all in this land
Shall also forsake their old ways.
What’s next, Lord?
All the way, my Saviour leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Mystery ahead, plenty unknown,
“It’s okay, my child.
There is a reason, always a reason.”
Thank you, Lord, for leading me all the way these past 25 years
Through all the seasons.
And even more so the next,
For you said: “Lo, I will be with you, always, even till the end of the age.”
You said: “I am coming soon!”
Yes Lord, come soon!
Command what you will,
And will what you command,
My steadfast, immovable,
My always-abounding-in-love Shepherd.
Let me ride on the wind of your wing,
In the land of the Ming.
Excerpted from “Journey Jumbles – Real Stories...Real People...A Real God,” a JMM publication for Bartley Christian Church July Mission Month 2008.