I have the privilege to often preach and minister in the men's chapel service of Union Gospel Mission. Last night I was moved by the hunger and desire many of those men had to surrender their lives to Christ and be remade into the men he created them to become. There's something refreshing about working among those who have tasted the end of the road. There's a clarity in the desperation that helps truth shine past the lies of our cultural mirages. Brokenness breeds a humility that God seems to find inviting. He shows up in these lowly places in such tangible ways that it often feels like holy ground.
These men are fighting for their lives, real battles of life and death and the fear and fight is thick in their faces. When I look out into the eyes of the guys in the crowd, I am pushed to offer words that come from blood and guts not just eloquent sermonizing. Those moments demand a level of reality that their lives provoke. Truth must be stark in a room with so much unrated experience listening, you can't play games there. It tests me like few other places, it's raw and rough but I love the challenge and the freedom such moments provide.
These men are warriors and the battle they fight are for their own souls and it's a grapple that reminds me of young David rising to kingship through the long path of peril. It is true that most kingdoms worth conquering our within our souls.
"Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city," Proverbs 16:32.
"Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit," Proverbs 25:28.
Like David, these men are in caves of deep darkness, but they have a destiny, a palace of purpose that the current pits they dwell within cannot eclipse. Real transformation always comes out of graves, bellies, fiery furnaces, hulls of ships and the dens of lions. I wrote a poem that captures this mystery of resurrection and I offer it as a testimony to these men's new birth, may God harrow their hells and set them to reigning on the earth.
Dark pits, for those who wish to finally see,
From nothingness, thrones can be ascended.
Hope flickers brightest in the blackest places,
Prayers ascend from the smoke of burned out paths,
Embered passion smolders hottest,
against the coolness of doubt's dust.
Voices echo in silence, few are the praises in the deep,
But most precious companions, who walk in shadowed futures.
Gathered are the souls of the disillusioned and indebted,
Bittered but blessed are those who have loss the lie,
That all is as it should be.
Down into the earth is the path of kings,
Dwell in the tomb of what was,
to become the womb of what will be.
Noah's ark, Mose's cleft, Elijah's mountain,
David's cave, Daniel's den, Jonah's belly, Christ's grave.
All must die...that are born...to reign.