Monday, December 7, 2020

Exile. {A Poem}



To Babylon—

Daniel glimpsed the eternal kingdom,

Ancient of Days,

In the collapse of his own.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah encountered

Christ before Bethlehem

In the furnace of sevenfold heat.

Ezekiel beheld shekinah glory of God

And the Temple yet to be

From the banks of the Chebar canal.



To Patmos—

Excluded from the gathering of the church,

Extracted from home and kin,

John witnessed the worship of multitudes.

The glory of God invaded his exile

With visions of the new Jerusalem,

The Lamb its light and temple,

Where no more salty sea can separate,

Where no more salty tears are shed.


Exiled, they encountered their God.

Exiled from earthly home, they glimpsed the heavenly.

Exiled, they dwelt enfolded in God’s wings,

Enclosed in His embrace.


Shall I go on?

Abraham, Joseph, Moses,

Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther—

And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—

All testify from the great cloud of witnesses

To God’s faithfulness

In the land of their sojourn.


Exiled—not from home

But to home—

Exiled from society

To disorienting, familiar walls,

Same places,  new purposes;

New rhythms, routines, habits, hardships;

New calendar—

Time stretching, contracting, collapsing in on itself.


In exile idols topple;

Sins bubble over.

Dross rises in the heat of tribulation,

In the crucible of confinement.


In exile, will we encounter God?

In exile, will we long for heavenly Home?

In exile, will we rest enfolded in His wings,

Enclosed in His embrace?

Or will we rebel like the Israelites

When God said, “Yield: trust me,”

And they fled to Egypt for help.

We will not emerge unchanged in any choice.

(No caterpillar ever emerged from a chrysalis.)


And emerge we will.

Likely not after seventy years

Or four hundred thirty, 

As Israel did,

But in God’s time He will again 

Extrude us into formerly familiar

Rhythms, routines, habits, hardships.

What will we carry with us out of exile?

Dross or gold?

Bitterness or the blessing

Of an encounter with the glorious God?


God’s exilic faithfulness

Could engender

Enduring fruitfulness

To the transformation

Of untold post-exilic generations.

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