Is He Worthy?

By Andrew Peter­son and Ben Shive
We do
Do you feel the world is broken?
We do
Do you feel the shad­ows deepen?
We do
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from get­ting through?
We do
Do you wish that you could see it all made new?

It is
Is all cre­ation groaning?
It is
Is a new cre­ation coming?
It is
Is the glo­ry of the Lord to be the light with­in our midst?
It is
Is it good that we remind our­selves of this?

Is any­one worthy?
Is any­one whole?
Is any­one able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who con­quered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ran­som the slave
Is He wor­thy? Is He worthy?
Of all bless­ing and hon­or and glory
He is
Is He wor­thy of this?

He does
Does the Father tru­ly love us?
He does
Does the Spir­it move among us?
He does
And does Jesus, our Mes­si­ah hold for­ev­er those He loves?
He does
Does our God intend to dwell again with us?

Is any­one worthy?
Is any­one whole?
Is any­one able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who con­quered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ran­som the slave
From every peo­ple and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a king­dom and priests to God
To reign with the Son
Is He worthy?Is He worthy?
Of all bless­ing and hon­or and glory
Is He wor­thy? Is He worthy?
He is!
Is He wor­thy of this?

Is He wor­thy? Is He worthy?
He is!
 
He is!
 

But I Guess I Wasn’t Worth What I Would Cost Her

Andrew Peterson: The Coral Castle — Carried Along

I don’t need her love to love her all I can.

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.)

I don’t hold with hav­ing heroes or hero wor­ship. That said, there are two liv­ing peo­ple whom I admire so very deeply for var­i­ous rea­sons that I have to be vig­i­lant in not allow­ing admi­ra­tion to become pedestal-build­ing. One such indi­vid­ual is Dr. Ravi Zacharias (recent events trou­ble me, but they. don’t leave me angry or dis­il­lu­sioned. Rather, I am hum­bled by the real­iza­tion that, ”There, but for the grace of God, go I.”, and that even those who gen­uine­ly love and serve God strug­gle with the sin inher­i­tance we all share.), and the oth­er is Andrew Peterson.

I’ve spent the last two years being told by the impor­tant peo­ple in my life that I’m crazy. Of those who love and sup­port me, I’ve felt that no one has real­ly under­stood my heart and thoughts. Then I dis­cov­er this song writ­ten by my favorite singer/songwriter; an amaz­ing artist, book author, and sin­cere and ded­i­cat­ed ser­vant of God… He under­stands. Some­one under­stands. At least one per­son understands.

I don’t need her love to love her all I can.

That said, those telling me that I’m crazy or a fool were quite cor­rect. I wouldn’t lis­ten. I dis­count­ed their feed­back, not so much because I doubt­ed them, but because of the, nec­es­sary at the time, and awful and so very painful now, stealth nature of pro­ceed­ings. They weren’t “In the know.” Well, OK, yes, and because I doubt­ed them and thought their hearts informed by the taint of this sin­ful world; a world so infect­ed that healthy and God-hon­or­ing appear alien and for­eign. See what I did there? I claimed to be on the side of the angels and con­signed every­one else, even (espe­cial­ly) those poor mis­guid­ed fools who dis­agreed with me, to be unknow­ing­ly agents of The Zeit­geist, the Spir­it of the Age. Down that path lies, if not mad­ness, then cer­tain­ly noth­ing but unful­fill­ment, com­pound­ing sor­rows, and repet­i­tive painful lessons.

Things still do not, for me, process cor­rect­ly and com­plete­ly, and so leave me ever ill at ease. Imag­ine striv­ing and expend­ing all ones’ resources to reach a des­ti­na­tion only to have some kind-heart­ed per­son make the obser­va­tion, far far down the road, that you’ve been hold­ing the map upside down from the out­set. I bounce between cer­tain­ty and self-doubt. Admit­ting error means not only acknowl­edg­ing being in the wrong, but also accept­ing that the ter­ri­ble ter­ri­ble loss will for­ev­er and unchang­ing­ly be so. I still can’t entire­ly let go of this belief which I held. Cow­ardice? Sor­row? I fear that I am the one who mis­ap­pre­hends real­i­ty and I ques­tion my own fac­ul­ties. How much more or less than a few vow­els and con­so­nants sep­a­rate lover from lunatic?

So much pride in what I thought my abil­i­ty to appre­hend and per­ceive the heart of oth­ers. How is it that I, so very emo­tion­al­ly stunt­ed and dam­aged; trained by a sociopath to emu­late a sociopath; hav­ing made a decades delayed start at com­pas­sion and empa­thy; delude myself so unreservedly? 

Per­haps the song speaks of a mad­man. If so, then I am that madman.

I don’t need her love to love her all I can.

Per­haps in this sit­u­a­tion, ‘lov­ing all one can’ means accep­tance of fail­ure, of fool­ish­ness, of error, and vol­un­tar­i­ly incar­cer­a­tion of an organ harm­ful to oth­ers. “If lov­ing is wrong, then I don’t to be right.” becomes the mean­ing­less mag­pie cry iden­ti­fy­ing a self­ish and unkind heart.

I’m an Absolute Clod.

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est continuity.)

by Thomas Phillips, oil on can­vas, 1807
The Clod and the Pebble
“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for anoth­er gives its ease,
And builds a Heav­en in Hel­l’s despair.“So sung a lit­tle Clod of Clay
Trod­den with the cat­tle’s feet,
But a Peb­ble of the brook
War­bled out these metres meet:

Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind anoth­er to its delight,
Joys in anoth­er’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heav­en’s despite.”

William Blake (1757 — 1827)
I announced at a meal with friends last evening that I was a dirt clod. They love me, so as expect­ed they object­ed. I asked them, “Well, would it be bet­ter to be a peb­ble in a brook? Which would you rather be?” The expect­ed answer. I asked, “Why a peb­ble?” I was answered, “Well, a peb­ble in a beau­ti­ful brook with the clean water flow­ing over me would be much bet­ter than a hunk of dirt.“This was the lead-in I hoped for because I want­ed to read for them a poem I’d nev­er come across before, one that sang out my own feel­ings and beliefs on love. I’d nev­er come across it before because I always assumed Blake, Shelly, Keats, Wordsworth, and all the oth­er Eng­lish Roman­tic poets to be a bit inac­ces­si­ble, and I find forced Roman­ti­cism to be rather off­putting. Even works of the great Rab­bie Burns, the Bard of Ayr­shire, which I desired to read, while beau­ti­ful and the fod­der for many a love­ly heart-cap­tur­ing tune, was still, beyond the dialect strug­gles, dif­fi­cult and a bit unre­lat­able. Assump­tions make for bad out­comes for you and for some fel­low by the fam­i­ly name of Ump­tion. I’m not going to run out and buy a tome; I real­ly have to much to read on my list for the next three life­times, but I will be more open to the expe­ri­ence by hap­pen­stance and serendipity.

Blake’s “And builds a Heav­en in Hel­l’s despair.” mea­sures well against my top stan­dard as it seems a phrase I would expect from C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, or the lyric gift­ings of Andrew Peterson.

This par­tic­u­lar serendip­i­ty occurred as I trav­eled to that love­ly meal shared with friends. I was again lis­ten­ing to what I am cer­tain is the absolute best book on under­stand­ing true covenan­tal and joy­ful mar­riage I’ve ever found, and I doubt the like of my ever find­ing one bet­ter. A recent dis­cov­ery, I’m on my fourth lis­ten and still find­ing lit­tle pre­cious gems. My phys­i­cal copy of “The Mean­ing of Mar­riage” by pas­tor Tim­o­thy Keller will join books by Lewis, Eggerichs, and Kreeft in a place of hon­or upon my book­shelf once I’m done fill­ing it’s mar­gins with anno­ta­tions from the heart.

Keller through­out illus­trates that the covenant of Mar­riage as pre­scribed by God; love through com­pan­ion­ship, ser­vice, and self-sac­ri­fice, bears pre­cious lit­tle resem­blance to the post­mod­ern social-human­ist me-cen­tred mar­riage that is so per­va­sive today. One would expect that God need not check the box labeled, “Sub­sti­tu­tions not per­mit­ted.” or “Dis­pense as prescribed.”

Tru­ly, it seems that through­out his­to­ry, mankind, even the Israelites, God’s Cho­sen Peo­ple, have cho­sen designs that devi­ate great­ly in crit­i­cal respects and suf­fer great­ly for the devi­a­tion. When Christ clar­i­fies that the adul­tery of the Ten Com­mand­ments takes place in the heart, mind, and eyes as much as in the bed­room; when He rebukes the reli­gious lead­ers argu­ing over divorce telling them that God grant­ed divorce to them only due to the hard­ness of their hearts we doubt not that the curse on rela­tion­ship that fell upon us through Adam and Eve was doing its painful work then amongst the Isre­alites as ter­ri­bly as it does for all of us today.

A fall­en world pro­duces only high­ly imper­fect repli­cas of the arche­type. Under­stand­ing the arche­type helps to shore up weak­ness­es, cor­rect tran­scrip­tion errors, and repair imper­fec­tions one pair of hearts at a time, and I think that is what Keller has done here in pro­vid­ing such under­stand­ing. He dis­cuss­es and then sweeps away the world’s rub­bish and then expounds upon and makes acces­si­ble and under­stand­able… and most impor­tant­ly, desir­able God’s great­est gift and bless­ing to His chil­dren avail­able, to us this side of heav­en. He shines ray of bright light daz­zling The Shad­ow­lands. He teach­es the only method capa­ble of build­ing a Heav­en in Hel­l’s despair.

I am a clod. A joy­ful clod of clay in full aware­ness of God’s bless­ings, not a peb­ble lulled by the end­less mind­less tune­less music of the rill pass­ing over me, bom­bard­ed by beau­ty, less­en­ing appre­ci­a­tion until I val­ue it not.

This view of mar­riage and our­selves is some­what alle­gor­i­cal of God’s love for us. We clods of clay don’t mer­it a sec­ond glance.

  • I am The Stone the Builders Reject­ed – Psalm 118:22
  • I am the Lost Sheep that would have been far eas­i­er to aban­don. – Luke 15:1–7
  • I am the Prodi­gal Son rebel­lious yet beat­en, all con­ceiv­able worth removed before being redeemed. – Luke 15:11–32
  • I am the clay in the Pot­ter’s hands – Jere­mi­ah 18:1–6
  • I am the Wid­ow of no sta­tion, ostra­cized as a woman of for­eign descent made valu­able by my Kins­man Redeemer. – Ruth 1–4
  • I am the Lost Coin. – Luke 15:8–10

If you want someone to know the truth, you tell them. If you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story.

andrewpeterson
“So it’s a good ques­tion, and I’m not sure I know how to answer it, but today I think He did it that way in the are­na of his­to­ry and time and place because our hearts can only grasp His love if we’re told it in a sto­ry. Some­one said, ‘If you want some­one to know the truth, you tell them. If you want some­one to love the truth, tell them a sto­ry.’ Since God is after our hearts… since He knows the only way for those hearts to work prop­er­ly is to exist in the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of His love. He laid down his life to tell us a story.”
— Andrew Peter­son in answer his wife’s wondering
why the hor­ror of the Cru­ci­fix­ion had to hap­pen.
“He Gave Us Sto­ries”, Ref­or­ma­tion Bible Col­lege,
2013 Fall Con­fer­ence, Cre­ation & Re-Creation.


Go back to time­code 34:45 to hear his guid­ing idea behind writ­ing The Wingfeath­er Saga. He had a vision of who the main char­ac­ter Jan­ner Igi­by was and who he was to become and that it could only be accom­plished through con­flict. “The only way for Jan­ner Igi­by to become that per­son was for me to ruin his life. To send him on an adven­ture that would cause him pain. To strip him of every­thing that was famil­iar. To bring him to a point where he could not see the light at the end of the tun­nel. And now, at the end of my sto­ry I keep think­ing about how my whole point, my whole goal at the end of this epic tale I’m try­ing to tell is to make the dark­ness seem so great that it’s insur­mount­able. To make it so that the main char­ac­ters in my sto­ry are on the brink of giv­ing up hope, so that at the very last moment, I can lift the veil, and blow their minds and they can see that there was some­thing stronger than all the darkness.”

Reading Narnia to Your Children

Andrew Peterson - On reading the Chronicles of Narnia to his boys
“I read the Nar­nia books to my sons when they were lit­tle boys and I cried the whole way through. I don’t know how many of you guys have read those books to your kids. It’s one thing to read the Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia as a boy. It’s anoth­er thing to read them as a man to your chil­dren and I just wept my way through those books.”

I too tear up through­out read­ing the Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia. I strug­gle not to weep upon lis­ten­ing to him say these things as he describes my own dream for father­hood. I rejoice that there are oth­er men out there doing exact­ly that and ful­fill­ing that self­same dream. This only serves to revive all the same feel­ings I had upon first becom­ing acquaint­ed with Andrew Peter­son through the below video, Fam­i­ly Man. Not every­one has their dreams ful­filled. I am glad that some do. I am grate­ful that God gives com­fort and con­tent­ment even to those who do not. 

Where God and Love and Grace Abound

Update: 5, Feb­ru­ary, 2021. Hid­den for a cou­ple of years until Face­book “Mem­o­ried” some stan­zas. Unveiled once again. One of my favorite com­po­si­tions, it now lacks an object, but then, one was nev­er required. There are a few small details spe­cif­ic to feel­ings for, and per­son of, one who left my life in 2017, but minus those fine dis­tinc­tions, this is my heart for any­one who has a place in my heart. She was spe­cial, yes, but I regard this much like God’s covenant with Abram. He put Abram into a sleep and com­plet­ed the covenant on His own to sig­ni­fy that His fideli­ty did not depend on the fideli­ty of the oth­er. My heart has a warm embrace wait­ing… not a void wait­ing to be filled, but a hug ready to happen.

There was a time I felt it nec­es­sary to hide this arti­cle behind pass­word pro­tec­tion as it con­tains things which some might assume to be of a per­son­al nature. As of March, no longer do those rea­sons apply. This is one of my favorite com­po­si­tions. I’ve been told by some who have read it that por­tions were help­ful to them. For these rea­sons I wish it hid­den no longer.

We stop and ask our­selves those crit­i­cal ques­tions which we believe we must have answered in the affir­ma­tive before we will go Danc­ing in the Mine­fields. The answers, if entire­ly hon­est, will always be insuf­fi­cient. We will nev­er start the music; nev­er take hand with a dance partner.

Our ideals exceed the graces of human­i­ty. We men wait on the Proverbs 31 woman. She does not exist. Many women wait for the sec­ond com­ing of Christ. His heart is already spo­ken for. When He returns it will be to car­ry home God’s daugh­ter-in-law. And so we wait, rather than begin the great adven­ture. We stand at the edge of the mine­field, star­ing out across it, alone, yet yearn­ing to dance; for a com­pan­ion with whom to dance.

We are pris­on­ers there­fore, in our very hearts, held cap­tive by fears, clutch­ing tight­ly to stan­dards of per­fec­tion rather than stan­dards of hon­est, yet often stum­bling pur­suit of excellence.

“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laugh­ter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beau­ty of flesh and the liv­ing col­ors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?” ― Eugene O’Neill, The Great God Brown and Oth­er Plays

The ques­tion then… the sec­ond ques­tion, bespeaks a more real­is­tic ide­al, prompt­ed when we defin­i­tive­ly have God. If we have God and His exam­ple of Love and Grace to always stand with us, then the sec­ond ques­tion becomes the one that matters.

The third ques­tion becomes then, mere for­mal­i­ty. It was answered when we invit­ed God to a place of pri­ma­cy with­in our mar­riage and our hearts.

God will join our hands. God will start the music. Our eyes on Him we will dance with joy­ous aban­don and our feet will find only safe firm ground, ’til we come to the oth­er side and meet with Him, our Father, face to face.

Am I worthy?
Hard­ly.
Am I worthwhile?
With great certainty.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Will I always imme­di­ate­ly put you first?
I real­ly real­ly wish I could say, “Yes.”
The times that I don’t, will I get there before too long?
You may count on it.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I flawless?
Hard­ly.
Does my beau­ty out­shine my flaws?
I am per­fect in my imperfection.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I wise?
Hard­ly.
I peti­tion God for wis­dom, does He give?
Always, gen­er­ous­ly, and with­out reproach. a
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I com­plete­ly honest?
Com­plete­ly? No, nev­er completely.
How then am I to be trusted?
My rare laps­es in efforts to be entire­ly hon­est are moti­vat­ed by imma­tu­ri­ty and fear. God con­tin­ues to mature me and expel my spir­it of fear, prompt­ing me to ‘fess up to mis­truths and strive for dis­ci­pline. b
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always understanding?
Hard­ly.
Do I strive to make a habit of lis­ten­ing diligently?
Very near­ly always, and until I do understand.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I thoughtful?
Hard­ly.
Will my thoughts always return to you?
They can nev­er stray far.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I come with a guarantee?
What fun would that be?
So what if things break down and stop working?
I will not rest until we’re repaired and what’s bro­ken mended.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I trustworthy?
Hard­ly.
When trust is bro­ken, will I rest?
I shall not. Your trust is the very strength in my body.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I unselfish?
Not hard­ly.
How then can I love and serve?
God has shown me the joy of putting you first.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I stew­ard well my time and money?
What was the ques­tion again?
How then will I care for wife and family?
I have learned against my nature. To whom God gives much… c
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I above reproach?
I’d be lying if I said I was.
But is that not a stan­dard to which a man must work?
Yes, and I do, and that is why I can­not answer untruthfully.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I courageous?
Not espe­cial­ly. Much more so now than in the past.
Why is that? May I be count­ed on then?
God has shown me what is most impor­tant; much more than youth­ful fears.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I righteous?
None are right­eous, no, not one. d
Do I seek after right­eous­ness and to hon­or God?
Very near­ly always I do.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always faith­ful in all things?
I try, but I some­times fail.
Can my fail­ure edure?
My heart will nev­er allow.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always kind?
There was a time, when I hard­ly under­stood kindness.
And now?
I am still learn­ing the more sub­tle aspects, but the new man I am under­stands and cher­ish­es kind­ness. My heart has been soft­ened to the point where kind­ness is very near­ly always my first response to oth­ers. I wish God to refine me, as impu­ri­ties are burned and then drawn away from pre­cious met­al in a cru­cible, to have no oth­er response.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I will­ing to change?
In myself? Far too reluctantly.
What if God puts it on my heart for you?
Watch how quick­ly the old man dies!
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I gorgeous?
You betcha!
Lev­i­ty? Humor? Here? In this seri­ous discourse?
I val­ue so very high­ly the absolute beau­ty in your gen­uine smile; a smile which touch­es every fea­ture of your face, head, and shoul­ders; eyes that reveal a com­fort and hap­pi­ness; a smile which briefly melts away the ten­sion which seems con­stant com­pan­ion. I will always yearn and strive to engen­der those feel­ings in you until the ten­sion, per­haps, becomes stranger to us both.
Is that sufficient?
You betcha! My love and grace abound, for you, my love.
Am I humble?
For too long have I gripped, white-knuck­led, to unmer­it­ed pride.
So, I have rec­og­nized and acknowl­edge the lack of merit?
I do. I have been hum­bled so much and so often that return­ing pride appears an inter­lop­er in these environs.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I teachable?
With this thick skull?
Have the years taught me hard lessons?
The hard­est of all my des­per­ate need to learn.
Is that sufficient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I, in turn, expect perfection?
No, no I do not. More­over I want it not.
What then, do I want?
I want only You; You as you are. No ide­al­ized ren­der­ing could approach the beau­ty and love­li­ness of who you are.
Is that sufficient?
I can­not answer for you. My love and grace abound.
Will I love?
I will love deeply.
I will love sacrificially.
I will love you as Christ loved the church.
I will give myself up for you. e
My love and grace for you and our fam­i­ly will ever abound.

a James 1:5
b 2 Tim­o­thy 1:7
c Luke 12:48
d Isa­iah 53:6, Romans 3:10
e Eph­esians 5:25

There is a dif­fi­cult dis­tinc­tion to make here. I’ve bor­rowed the metaphor of danc­ing through mine­fields from Andrew Peter­son­’s auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal song, “Danc­ing in the Mine­fields.” Mar­riage is always a dance through mine­fields and always fraught with dan­ger.* We live on a fall­en earth of fall­en peo­ple under the influ­ence of the Bent Oyarsa. We will encounter mines; in those sea­sons when our eyes waver from God, or when the fal­l­en­ness of this world (sin by those out­side our mar­riage and sick­ness being a major con­se­quences of fal­l­en­ness) asserts. With God in our mar­riage how­ev­er, our dance will be more grace­ful, more beau­ti­ful, and less apt to put a foot wrong in clum­sy stum­ble. More­over, when we do encounter mines, our devo­tion to God will equip us to bet­ter deal with what­ev­er the Bent Oyarsa (Satan) throws at us. Our devo­tion will mean that ‑we- react dif­fer­ent­ly, and choose to weath­er storms with one anoth­er, storms that shred mar­riages based only on things earth­ly. Andrew says it beau­ti­ful­ly: “And we’re danc­ing in the mine­fields. We’re sail­ing in the storm. This is hard­er than we dreamed, but I believe that’s what the promise is for.” These storms are best illus­trat­ed (quite lit­er­al­ly) here: Fam­i­ly Man — Andrew Peter­son

* “Life is pain, high­ness. Any­one who says dif­fer­ent­ly is sell­ing some­thing.” ― William Gold­man, William Gold­man: Four Screen­plays with Essays