Poetry Saturday—I Stay Near The Door

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I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world—
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men.
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it…
So I stay near the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door—the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch—the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.
Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter—
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it—live because they have found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him…
So I stay near the door.

Go in, great saints, go all the way in—
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics—
In a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms,
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture a little farther;
But my place seems closer to the opening…
So I stay near the door.

The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving—preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them, too,
I stay near the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long,
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door—
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But—more important for me—
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch,
So I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it. 
‘I had rather be a door-keeper…’
So I stay near the door. —Samuel Shoemaker

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The Hospital

C06C0E2718-1260x467I am reblogging this from Live Dead. I wonder how many Christians are really concerned about the truly sick? The Church should be a hospital for the sick and dying, and Christians everywhere should be rescuing those stumbling toward an eternity separated from God.

In a distant land of the decaying, I happened upon a hospital. There were many pseudo-hospitals, clinics and traditional healers scattered in the shadow of its mighty walls, but a quick inspection proved them dirty and inadequate.

I made my way into the hospital via a backdoor and climbed the stairwell to the top floor. I pushed the door open to the children’s ward and was repulsed by the smell. Children crowded three to a crib. Few if any of them diapered, and it was obvious they had wallowed in their own filth for some time. A cacophony of desperate tears erupted at my entrance. Infants with open lesions lifted their hands in desperate appeal. Others could not muster the strength to stretch out their weakened limbs and simply stared at me with a dull look.

I realized I needed to find the medical staff quickly and ran from the room to do so. Running down the stairs three at a time, I raced to the ward on the floor below me. I rushed in only to stop suddenly at its silence. The ward seemed to stretch interminably. Row after row of the aged stretched out like merging railroad tracks in the distance. They lay there mute and hopeless. On the horizon of that hall I thought I saw a solitary physician, but I would not swear it if under oath. I numbly spun on my heel and continued my search for doctors.

Floor after floor I descended the building and entered ward after ward that burst with the ill and wounded, largely absent of any healers. The horribly burned, maimed and suffering tossed listlessly on filthy sheets vainly waiting for medicine, comfort or cleaning.

I finally arrived on the ground floor. My pace had slowed to a walk by a mounting sense of despair. As I pushed open the ward door, I was smacked in the face by beauty. Fragrant smells wafted from freshly arranged flowers. Soothing music slipped from hidden speakers. The floor gleamed as if recently polished; bright sunshine beamed in the picture windows.

Hospital beds contained patrons smiling in comfort. Some were in critical condition while others appeared only to have minor abrasions or slight temperatures. The puzzling thing about the ward, however, was its activity. Hoards of doctors raced around like frenzied ants. Nurses, technicians and medical assistants jockeyed for elbowroom around each bed. As new patients trickled in, they were practically devoured by aggressive physicians, desperately trying to pull them to the empty bed of their responsibility. Patients seemed over medicated and triple bandaged.

I stopped a physician hurtling by me to join a throng of thirty gathered around one young man who had cut himself shaving. “Please, could you come with me?” I asked. “There are desperately sick patients on the upper floors!” “I would love to,” he replied, “but I have not been called to those floors.”

Another doctor bumped into me as she vainly tried to join a team who argued about who would get to operate on an ingrown fingernail. “Please, ma’am, it is urgent that we have more doctors upstairs,” I pleaded. She scalded me with her eyes, “Can you not see that there are sick people here as well?” I could of course, and I was not suggesting that all the doctors transfer, but couldn’t one or two?

I drifted towards another bustling group who gathered around a pleasant man explaining just how he would like his tummy tightened. “Excuse me, sir,” I asked one of the short doctors who struggled to see over the shoulders of those in front of him, “Could you possibly come help out on a needy floor?” He winced a little and muttered, “You know, I wish I could, but I am not cut out for that kind of stuff. I am glad you can do it, but…well…you know…I just can’t.” And he scuttled off to join a dozen doctors who were reading the chart of a nearby soul.

I tried several more times but was continually rebuffed. Every reason had a measure of truth. Every reason went further to ensure that those struggling for life on the floors above us would certainly die.

I climbed slowly back up the stairs. The music receded, the lovely fragrance faded. The hustle and bustle of clean, intelligent, capable doctors faded into the silence of desperation. I walked with a heavy heart down the silent halls of the neglected. I could not understand it.

I paused to hold the hand of a sufferer, and my tears joined his in anguished refrain. He took one last fragile breath. His eyes framed one last question. And then he passed into the ranks of the damned.

No Commentary Needed

Sometimes it’s best to just let the Bible speak for itself, without any commentary. This is one of those passages. It comes from Psalm 49, using The Message paraphrase.

Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
against the Black Hole.

Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
And to think they named counties after themselves!

We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
who only look out for themselves:
Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
They waste away to nothing—
nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
      He reaches down and grabs me.

Shop With A Purpose

Why do you go shopping?

Just for fun?

As a stress-buster?

For real needs?

Where do you go shopping?

Whichever store is closest?

The one with the best prices?

     The one with the most desirable styles?

How about shopping somewhere that really makes a difference?

Betsy and I were wandering around Rockford, MI, last weekend and stumbled upon an incredible store called The W.A.R. Chest Boutique. W.A.R. stands for Women At Risk. (Please read more about the mission of W.A.R. on their website.)

In a nutshell, W.A.R. sells items made by women who have been rescued from slavery or other oppressive conditions. These women have been taught a skill to make jewelry or clothing or other one-of-a-kind items for your home. And here’s the great part: 90% of the proceeds go back to the women who made the items! Yes, 90 percent!

You can get involved by:

  • Educating yourself on the plight of at-risk women around the world.
  • Shopping at the two W.A.R. boutique locations in West Michigan.
  • Shopping W.A.R.’s items online.
  • Hosting a W.A.R. party in your home.
  • Praying for these women, and for organizations that are helping them.

Don’t just shop. Shop with a purpose.

Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. (Proverbs 3:27)

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