What we all know but soon forget

th-53We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
We will always be remembered as the orphans of God
– Mark Heard

Some of you will remember that my wife prefers to be read to than to read. For that reason, she has been overjoyed to discover audio books — formerly books on tape, when we were listening to cassettes. Remember cassette tapes? I’m not even going to go there. Now, of course, she can download audio books and listen to them anywhere on her iPhone.

She is especially glad she can take her phone to bed with her and be read to by someone who will not fall asleep before she does — obviously her frustration with her husband’s attempts to be her nighttime reader. My children had the same frustration with me reading to them at bedtime. I would often fall asleep before they did. And when I did that, I didn’t just stop reading; I started lapsing into total nonsense based on the dream sequence I was slipping into. And they would go, “Papa! That’s not what the story says! … Mama! Papa’s going to sleep again!” Hooray for audio books.

So, recently, Marti’s been listening to the story of Oliver Twist or The Parish Boy’s Progress by Charles Dickens. You will recognize it as the story of an orphan who runs away from an orphanage only to be thrown in with the seedy lives in the underbelly of nineteenth century London. In the end, Oliver finds out he’s not an orphan after all. He has a family and it’s a family from good stock, blessed with love and kindness — a far cry from what he’s been experiencing so far in his young life.

As I was thinking about that story the other day, I realized it’s really the story of the ugly duckling — a swan raised by ducks, feeling ugly and out of place until she runs into some swans and realizes that she is not ugly after all, she’s just been in the wrong place with the wrong family.

Do you ever wonder where these stories come from, why we’re fascinated by them, and why so many of them are similar? Because they come from that place in the shared human subconscious where we know that we are more than this. They come from the eternity in our hearts that no one but God can explain, because we do not know the end from the beginning (Ecclesiastes 3:12). And they captivate us because we know they are true, even though we might deny it. We know we have a family. We know we are beautiful; we’re just in the wrong place, and we’ve been raised by the wrong people. We are subject to evil all around us, and in us, but we are going to be rescued. We will soon know our real Father and His family, and discover we are truly beautiful — in fact, we are glorious to behold — a thing of beauty God created, not this twisted, warped version we’ve been forced to inhabit here on earth. Hear this, Melissa … Emily … Mark … and everyone else struggling to believe the unbelievable truth (which should be all of us): You will run, walk and fly soon, without any pain, because this isn’t you. It’s just a shadow of who you really are. This will be only a memory … if that.

Like bees in a bottle we are flying at fate
Beating our wings against the walls of this place
Unaware that the struggle is the blood of the proof
In choosing to believe the unbelievable truth

We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
We will always be remembered as the orphans of God

Extra Credit
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to spend some time with the complete lyrics of the song by Mark Heard I have quoted in this Catch. Mark was a brilliant songwriter who unfortunately was trapped in Christian music, and the reason that’s unfortunate is because the world would have understood him and appreciated him a lot more than Christians did. Like any great poetry, this song will unfold to you over time. I’ve known this song for years, and I’m still unwrapping gifts from it.

The Orphans of God
by Mark Heard

I will rise from my bed with a question againth-54
As I work to inherit the restless wind
The view from my window is cold and obscene
I want to touch what my eyes haven’t seen

But they have packaged our virtue in cellulose dreams
And sold us the remnants ’til our pockets are cleanth-55
’Til our hopes fall ’round our feet
Like the dust and dead leaves
And we end up looking like what we believe

We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
We will always be remembered as the orphans of God
They will dig up these ruins
And make flutes of our bones
And blow a hymn to the memory of the orphans of God

Like bees in a bottle we are flying at fate
Beating our wings against the walls of this place
Unaware that the struggle is the blood of the proof
In choosing to believe the unbelievable truth

But they have captured our siblings and rendered them mute
They’ve disputed our lineage and poisoned our roots
We have bought from the brokers who have broken their oaths
And we’re out on the streets with a lump in our throats

We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
We will always be remembered as the orphans of God
They will dig up these ruins
And make flutes of our bones
And blow a hymn to the memory of the orphans of God

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6 Responses to What we all know but soon forget

  1. John,

    Isn’t it just like God to completely steal my breath and ruin me in an instant with the words you’ve shared. I confess that I’ve blown through so many blogs posts with not much more than a glance, and yet this morning, I read these words:

    “We will soon know our real Father and His family, and discover we are truly beautiful — in fact, we are glorious to behold — a thing of beauty God created, not this twisted, warped version we’ve been forced to inhabit here on earth.”

    and

    “You will run, walk and fly soon, without any pain, because this isn’t you. It’s just a shadow of who you really are. This will be only a memory … if that.”

    I tripped up on this like an anvil sitting in the middle of the floor in the dark. And then, this did me in… from Mark Heard’s song lyric-

    “…’Til our hopes fall ’round our feet
    Like the dust and dead leaves
    And we end up looking like what we believe”

    This was just what God knew I needed this day. And even as I read it again for the 7th time,.. the peace and contentment it’s bringing me is so welcomed and so comforting. Thank you, Jesus, for using John to show me where home is again. It’s been a while.

    • jwfisch says:

      Matt, I’m so glad! This touches me to know that God used yesterday’s writing to touch you so deeply.Makes it all worthwhile.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Luv today’s Catch! I am not sure which Mark you were referring to here: “…Hear this, Melissa … Emily … Mark … and everyone else struggling to believe the unbelievable truth (which should be all of us): You will run…” yet when I read my name the tears started to flow – thinking YES some sweet day I’ll be able to run again – like they often told me when I was a young boy, I could run like the wind. 🙂

    Very similar to what Matt Stockman wrote above: “This was just what God knew I needed this day.”

    Great song too! So much thx Pastor John 4 today’s Catch, sincerely appreciate it and you…
    PS I too Marti enjoyed listening to books, yet once read years ago an author write (a Mark’s paraphrase) one of the reasons when we see a movie about a book we once read, we’re disappointed more often then not, is because when we read a book our mind is doing so many thing to help us internalize the book, so when we see another person version (the movie director) we tend to ‘say’ or think, but they left this part or that part out and they should have developed this or that part more. As the book did… And I’m not sure if it the same, when we hear a book, so since then I struggle with my mild deisxs (sp?)

  3. Mellissa Plowman says:

    Thank you John & Marti! For the prayers, for the encouragement. For naming me in your post. I feel truly honored to know such amazing & real people.

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