The year I was pregnant, I read a beautiful poem by Madeleine L'Engle (here, scroll down to the bottom) at Advent service my church holds for the women of the community. The service was so beautiful and meaningful, that I dreamed of presenting an original piece at it. A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a poem for this year's service. We've been studying David in our various women's Bible studies, so the theme of the Advent service was looking at Jesus through the line of David.
Here's what I wrote:
The King in the Cave
by Anna Carpenter
Can you imagine a boy
who knew less what it meant to be king
Than the ruddy shepherd David?
He knew flocks and fields for sure
He could fling a stone with the best of them
Lions and bears, no problem.
But ruling a nation?
Out of all his brothers,
Prophet Samuel poured the oil on him!
God chose him!
The least likely, dirtiest,
manure-freshest one of the bunch.
Israel had crowned only one other king.
So what could David
Possibly imagine was in his future?
He probably did not guess giants.
Or being the royal harp-boy.
Or spending years hiding in caves.
Were these hard, dark places
Filled with the lost, last and least
Really where God wanted him to be?
What of that promise and early successes?
What of princes? And princesses!?
Was this what it meant to be king?
What heartache and anger
We know that he felt
As he poured out his words on the page.
“The LORD is my rock
And my fortress
And my deliverer!
My God, my strength,
in whom I will trust
That hope kept paving
His humble path to the throne
A long journey he never expected.=
From the cave he emerged
To be king at last
With a heart after God’s very own.
The first in a forever line
Of covenant kings
Started out in a shepherd’s robe.
Is it any wonder, then, that shepherds
Were the first to hear the news?
An angelic announcement of the royal birth!
“You there, with your staffs and sandals
You dirty, manure-fresh bunch
Come! See a king born today in a cave!”
God Himself, King of the World
Stripped out of Majesty’s claims
Wrapped once in flesh then swaddled in rags.
A cradle of stone and pillow of straw
Attended by animals
sharing their stalls.
Jesus, the long-awaited son of David
Born to wear the crown
Found the least-likely way to achieve it.
He fulfilled every prophecy about him
While turning every expectation
Absolutely upside down.
He wandered in deserts
Dined with the last, lost and least
He was challenged and threatened
Denied and betrayed
And finally brutally murdered
The throngs of angels
Heralding his birth in song
Were held silent at his death
Once again God made flesh
To be wrapped up and laid in a cave.
Where are you now,
O child of the King?
You there, with your pains and sorrows.
Is your promise elusive,
Your path full of stones,
Your dream lost in the darkness?
Is your journey much longer
Than you could’ve imagined
Your foes in constant pursuit?
If you think that the cavernous
Place where you’re stuck is too
Far for the light to break through,
Don’t you dare give up hope,
As you cry to the sky
The story’s not over yet.
My friend can’t you see
The miracle here,
The heart that God’s building in you?
You may be waiting
But He hasn’t stopped
No, nothing about Him has changed.
The King of the Universe
still loves to do
Some of His best work in caves!
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