After 43 years, my brother and sisters and I were completing a pilgrimage to our old home in China. I asked for permission to call on two well-known, elderly Christians. The pair had served a combined total of 37 years in hard labor camps on account of their Christian faith.

When I went to visit them, though, they were out. On my way back to our hotel, disappointed, I was complaining to the Lord. I felt I needed to see these two—to learn of the all-sufficiency of our God and how he had met their need.

Suddenly, from nowhere, came these words: “Look to the Rock whence ye were hewn.”

I had not consciously memorized this Scripture. I did not even know where it was found. But God used it to remind me I was not to look to people but to him. He meets each individual according to his or her particular need, and according to his graciousness. Furthermore, he might not meet my need in just the same way he had met theirs. But he would meet it.

When later I did meet this dear couple I found them to be full of gratitude to God for his goodness and his faithfulness. There was no bitterness: they were loving and happy.

And I was doubly blessed: first in the missing, and then in the meeting.

Sonnet on Agape

“You are my friend if you obey my word.”

I hear and halt my will’s reluctant feet.

Am I required to sacrifice absurd,

trick lambs like Abraham, I whine: to treat

a sinner like a saint; to wield a sword

in sight of pride; to my small pain resign

my heart; nor feed resentment’s jowls. “But Lord,”

I quote, “I cast no pearls before a swine.”

Reproachful eyes, a bit amused, glance down

in swift rebuke: “And are you loved because

you’re lovely? Nail-pierced hands have placed a crown

upon your head and bound your wounds with gauze.

Condemned! you laid on me ...

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