By Rev. Everette Chapman
I heard a preacher say once that the verse in the Bible which assures, “He gives to His beloved sleep,” can also be translated, “He gives to His beloved in their sleep.” I can attest to the truth of that affirmation. Many has been the time when the God has allowed to bubble up, from my sub-conscious mind, some verse of scripture or, perhaps, a bit of helpful, uplifting poetic verse. That happened recently as I was reminded of some words entitled “A Prayer.” I have re-phrased it, “A Prayer for Daily Living.”
I don’t know who Max Ehrman was. I know only that he lived between 1872 and 1945. These are the dates that are listed for him in a book of poetry I borrowed years ago. The dates appear at the bottom of the following poem I copied and saved. I was drawn again this week to that old poem, for its words are words I need. Perhaps you might need them as well.
Let me do my work each day;
And if the darkened hours of despair overcome me,
May I not forget the Strength that comforted me
In the desolation of other times.
May I still remember the bright hours that found me
Walking over the silent hills of my childhood,
Or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river,
When a light glowed within me,
And I promised my early God to have courage
Amid the tempests of the changing years.
Spare me from bitterness,
And from the sharp passions of unguarded moments.
May I not forget that both poverty and riches are of the spirit.
Though the world know me not,
May my thoughts and actions be such
As shall keep me friendly with myself.
Lift my eyes from earth,
And let me not forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others,
Lest I condemn myself in the process.
Let me not follow the clamor of the world,
But walk calmly in my own path.
Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am;
And keep ever burning before my vagrant steps
The kindly light of hope.
And though age and infirmity overtake me,
And I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams,
Teach me still to be thankful for life,
And for time’s golden memories that are good and sweet.
And may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still.
– – Max Ehrman
Interestingly enough, God is barely mentioned in the prayer. Nor are the usual religious or theological idioms used as normally occur in prayers. At the same time, this prayer deals with everyday temptations, everyday discouragements, and everyday aspirations. Not only is it an everyday prayer, it is a timely prayer for some of us today and for others of us, every day. Here is the wonderful Good News! Ours is an everyday kind of loving God, who greets us each new day with His love, His grace, and His sustaining power!
Rev. Everette Chapman is pastor of Fairfield Mountains Chapel, Lake Lure. His new book, “Gentle Mountain Breezes”, a collection of articles from his Mountain Breeze column since the late 1980’s to the present time, is available by contacting Fairfield Mountains Chapel.