Sunday, June 12, 2011

The War Within Already Won

Who am I?  They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly
Like a squire fom his country-house.
Who am I?  They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I?  They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smiling, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat.
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voice of the birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness
Tossing in expectation of great events.
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance.
Weary and empty at praying,  at thinking, at making,
Faint and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before the others,
And before myself a comtemptable, woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from a victory already achieved?
Who am I?  They mock me, these lonely questions of mine,
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I heard the last few lines of this poem for the first time this past week, and His good Providence at work - that same evening I was telling a friend about it, who just happened to be reading Eric Metaxas' biography of Bonhoeffer and turned right to it.  As she read the first lines me, I was surprised - it was not what I expected as the conduit to the last lines. 
Fast forward a few days, and another friend and I were talking about the struggles of  perception and God's view of us and how Christ's imputation of his righteousness brings an understanding of grace, and joy and a kind of freedom that is ours to grasp.  Yet, we struggle, we question, we wrinkle our noses as others tell us how they see us.  We scepticise, we object, we shake our heads - and I ask myself - really, did Bonhoeffer, think these things?  Are all men cut from of the same cloth, the dusty one?  Will we ever really fully rest in all that He has done for us - in all that is already completed?

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
-Paul to the church at Philippi

And, in the favorite quote, of a third friend - "Heaven is better."

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