by Nancy Petrey
After my book, Habitation of Honey: Poems and Songs, was published this May, I continued to write poems, and they came in quick succession. God would inspire me with a thought or a verse from Scripture, and the words would flow out in rhythm and rhyme. Writing a poem or a song is more fun and easier than writing prose. The advantage of poetry is that it isn’t complicated, it takes less time, and it encapsulates truth that can fly like an arrow to the heart.
I wrote a poem, “His Shaft of Light,” as a poetic response to the shooting in the AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the subsequent controversy about the Confederate flag. Here is an excerpt of that poem:
Ramping up the rhetoric, accusations rife,
Doing all they can to get you into strife.
Please don’t take the bait, and let your temper flare.
Behind it all is Satan, of whom you’re not aware
Principalities and powers, fanning flames of hate,
People rush to judgment, but God calls out to wait.
Pause and say a prayer to the One Who sees it all.
Be a source of healing, be ready at His call
Look for opportunities to be His shaft of light,
When anger smokes and voices rage,
His Spirit scatters night.
Warfare is our portion, so it’s best that we obey
Our Commander, the Messiah – He will lead the way.
The next morning I awoke with a big question mark in my soul. Was this poem really from God or just my own “take” on the situation? I asked the Lord and then turned at random in the Bible to see if He would answer with a certain verse. It so happened I opened at Ephesians 2, and my eye fell on the little boxed-in section at the top right of the page, “Word Wealth,” with the definition of the Greek word for “workmanship” from the 10th verse: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
This is what I read: “Poiema (poy-ay-mah): from the verb poiea, ‘to make.’ (Compare ‘poem’ and ‘poetry.’)” OH! I GASPED! It was obvious God was speaking to me! I held the Bible to my chest and began to worship and thank Him for answering my question and convincing me that my poem was indeed from Him! Then I read on: “Poiema emphasizes God as the Master Designer, the universe as His creation and the redeemed believer as His NEW creation (Eph. 2:10). Before conversion our lives had no rhyme or reason. Conversion brought us balance, symmetry, and order. WE ARE GOD’S POEM, HIS WORK OF ART.” Wow! Just to think that I am God’s work of art, His poem!
Satan had tried to squelch my creative endeavor, but God graciously affirmed me as a poet. I was scheduled to speak at a women’s meeting a month later, and I shared my testimony about how God spoke to me in the midst of my doubts. Then I recited a new poem God had given me from Ephesians 2:10 just for this group of women, “God’s Poem.” Here is an excerpt:
Put on His whole armor, quote His word out loud,
You are God’s poem, of you He’s very proud.
Maidens on the march, publishing His word, As you speak in love, know that you’ll be heard.
God wants a multitude, a wedding is His goal –
Jesus and His bride, His poem to unfold.
All my poems and songs in my book, Habitation of Honey, are based on Scripture. The recurring theme is the destiny of the Church as the Bride of Christ, her highest calling. I think of these poems as helping to prepare the way for the return of the Lord. John the Baptist did that the first time the Messiah came to earth. Remember, he ate locusts and wild honey in the wilderness. To be ready for the Bridegroom, the Bride needs to continually eat the honey – read and study the Scripture. These scriptural poems and songs can serve as daily devotionals. They are varied, some calling for action, some extolling the awesomeness of God in creation, and some contemplative. I need this one, “Sit Quietly” (an excerpt):
As the butterfly flitting from flower to flower,
You’ve tasted the nectar in this world’s hour.
Your wings have shimmered with light from above,
But I would tuck you under my wing, little dove.
You’ll never want to fly away,
Nestled by Me, you’ll want to stay.
You will hear my heart, if you lie very still,
And you’ll have my power working in your will…
There are seasons in life, and you’ve run the race,
But nothing is better than seeing My face.
Sit quietly now, look up at My smile.
I’ve been gazing at you a long, long while.
What kind of poem is God making of your life? What truth is He displaying through His workmanship in your life? What facet of His beauty, power, and love is He showing forth in the poetry of your life? You are God’s poem! Rejoice!