[written on 25 April 1982]
I found this by accident in a box of old cards that I gave to my wife Judy (during friendship, courting, engagement, and being newly married), that we were reading through (with great interest!) today. It expresses a sort of “evangelical” piety and relational spirituality that is part of my Christianity as well, though not often expressed in my apologetics, since I am always having to dispute doctrinal points. But it’s there, and nothing in this is “unCatholic” in the slightest. This is “me” too. I’m not only the “hard-nosed” apologist. That doesn’t define all of who I am. I have lots of other facets as well.
At that time I had been an evangelical Protestant Christian for five years, but a seriously committed disciple for about a year and eight months. I was 23 years old. I was to meet my wife about seven months later, and at this time I was intensely lonely, as I had been for over six years, since my first girlfriend in high school. Loneliness and wanting so badly to be in love and married was my big cross then.
It turns out (not coincidentally at all, I don’t think), that I was to meet a number of new and lasting friends the next month when I started attending a new (Assemblies of God) church, and my wife before the year was out. This is so much like God, in my experience. When it seems that all hope and direction have ceased, He is already at work with a plan to bless us. Thus the second half of 1982 was one of the key periods in my entire life, setting the stage for what was to come: my vocation and God’s plan for my life.
I was not to become convinced of Catholicism till 8 1/2 years later, but I already knew I wanted to devote my life to apologetics, and was seriously involved in it already. I was just about to graduate from college, but was to be unemployed till September 1983. To fill all that time up I started researching and writing, and have done so continually ever since. I have (fairly “weighty”) posts on my blog that date all the way back to 1982.
I hope you enjoy the poem and get some encouragement out of it, as the case may be. I can testify with all my heart from my own experience of almost 32 years of serious Christianity that God hears our prayers, knows the desires of our hearts, and will bless us with all we need, when we follow Him wholeheartedly, exercise faith by His grace, and trust (as the Bible teaches us) that He loves us and always desires what is best for us.
We still suffer and go through many trials (don’t get me wrong; I sure know that!), but He is there and He is at work. We can always rest and be assured in that. There is always hope; always light at the end of the tunnel with God, if we truly are devoting ourselves to Him and trying to live according to His precepts.
* * *
Dear Lord God, in You I hope
When I’m weary through the day.
Give me strength enough to cope,
Lest the darkness come my way.
Walk with me the long hard road,
Through the cares and pains, I pray.
Help me bear my heavy load,
Let Your peace inside me stay.
If this life I cannot stand
When the pressures are so great.
Lift me with Your mighty hand,
Fill me with the grace to wait.
When I cry to you in fear,
Asking how and wondering why.
Let me feel that You are near,
Then above the gloom I’ll fly.
If the answers I cannot know,
When Your reasons are too high.
Help my perseverance grow,
Make my doubts and anger die.
You, O Lord, and only You,
Understand my hurting heart.
When I have no idea what I’ll do,
You give strength that won’t depart.
You’re the friend Who stays with me,
When there’s no one else around.
With Your love You set me free,
Even when my spirit’s down.
Jesus, keep me from despair,
Help me trust You’ll fill my needs.
So that all I learn I will share,
Sowing love instead of greed.
Lord, forgive me when I fall,
Giving in to Satan’s ploys.
Help me seek You first of all,
Then I’ll know You and Your joy.
Photo credit: yours truly in April 1983, exactly a year after this poem was written.