At the family conference this past week some folks reminded me of a poem I had quoted in a sermon some years before. That poem was written by J. Robertson McQuilkin, the president of Columbia Bible College (my alma mater). The poem speaks for itself.
It’s sundown, Lord. The shadows of my life stretch back into the dimness of the years long spent. I fear not death, for that grim foe betrays himself at last, thrusting me forever into life: life with You, unsoiled and free. But I do fear. I fear the dark specter may come too soon–or do I mean too late? I fear that before I finish I might stain Your honor, shame Your name, grieve Your loving heart. Few, they tell me, finish well. Lord, let me get home before dark.
Will my life show the darkness of a spirit grown mean and small, fruit shriveled on the vine, bitter to the taste of my companions, a burden to be borne by those brave few who love me still? No, Lord, let the fruit grow lush and sweet, a joy to all who taste, a Spirit-sign of God at work, stronger, fuller. Brighter at the end. Lord, let me get home before dark.
Will be the darkness of tattered gifts, rust-locked, half-spent, or ill-spent, a life that once was used of God now set aside? Grief for glories gone or fretting for a task God never gave? Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory, gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone? Cannot I run well until the end? Lord, let me get home before dark.
The outer me decays–I do not fret or ask reprieve. The ebbing strength but weans me from mother earth and grows me up for heaven. I do not cling to shadows cast by mortality. I do not patch the scaffold lent to build the real, eternal me. I do not clutch about me my cocoon, vainly struggling to hold hostage a free spirit pressing to be born.
But will I reach the gate in lingering pain–body distorted, gro-tesque? Or will it be a mind wandering untethered among light phantasies or grim terrors? Of Your grace, Father, I humbly ask…let me get home before dark.