O Lord, how long?

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I wish I had no free will now;
For am I not Your slave?
Me chaining of my body,
Me making me behave,
O Lord, how long?

In Yours to lose my thinking,
Enslaved and totally free.
How much more of struggle
Before Your face I see?
O Lord, how long?

I almost hear the trumpet;
I almost feel me fly.
Redemption of my body
In the twinkling of an eye
O Lord, how long?

-n-   4 June 1996

Christians look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus. We long to be able to see our Lord face to face—
He who gave His life as a ransom for our sins,
He whose righteousness covers us and makes it possible for us to be at peace with a holy God who cannot tolerate sin,
He who will bear the marks of that sacrifice into eternity,
He who stooped down down down to raise us up
—we long to see Him.

Yet another reason for this yearning is the fact that until He comes or until we ourselves die, whichever is sooner, we have to persevere and live holy lives. We hold on thus, despite having a sinful nature that is ever ready to compromise holiness in thought, word, and action.

What is our motivation? Is it the fear of losing the benefits of the grace of God? Are we afraid that God, like an angry warden, will throw us out if we sin? Nay, the Bible promises us that as long as we have truly repented and believe, He will never let us go. The Bible also tells us that once we have come into His fold, every time we sin, we can go to Him in penitence, confess our sin, and be forgiven.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9)

Why do we not then use this as a license for sinning? Why do we strive to be holy? We do so because God has changed us and given us a new heart and, having become new creatures spiritually, we are now programmed differently, to hate sin.

Yet, we are still in the body of sin with its sinful tendencies. So although holiness is what we want, it still is an effort to keep sin in check.

. . . we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope . . .if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:23-25)

We need to endure and hold on. We yearn to endure and hold on. We will endure and hold on. We cannot but endure and hold on. And what a relief it will be when He comes, when the redeeming work in our lives is completed and we get new sinless bodies to match the change that has begun in our hearts.

This poem written in 1996 reflects this yearning.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Cor 15: 51-54)

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