I. Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound
I’d pray while curled up
late at night, in my twin bed—
Thank You for my salvation.
Thank You for leaving your Father,
and enduring such cruel betrayal,
and dying such a wicked death at the
hands of Your own people on the cross—
and so on, and so forth.
Thank you for my family,
for my Mom and my Dad,
for Madelyn and Josh,
because, even though we don’t
always get along, we love each other.
And thank You for my dog, Max.
He really is the best!
This is where I’d smile,
picturing the happy, chubby Beagle,
gray fur just starting to creep in.
Thank You for our house, and our cars,
and our church, and Pastor Amsbaugh,
and my friends Ashley, Danny, Amanda,
Jonathan, Laura, Alexa, and Josh—
et cetera, et cetera.
Thank you for all of your blessings.
There are too many to count, Jesus.
I pray for Grandmom and Granddad Parrish,
please watch over their health, because they
need Your healing touch, and please,
please, please, save Granddad,
before it’s too late.
I also pray for Grandmom and Granddad Spicer—
even though they’re healthy,
they need to get saved too.
Heaven won’t be the same without them.
I ask You to help me with school,
help me to study hard and get
good grades, and to be a good student
for Mom, and to always honor You.
In Your name, Amen.
Then I would ***** the lights,
and stare at the ceiling,
sometimes for hours,
hoping my thoughts,
broke through the layers
of paint and plaster and wood,
made it all the way to Heaven,
who’d be sitting in His throne,
listening so intently,
just waiting to answer each
and every request.
II. That Saved A Wretch Like Me
The first time I got saved, I was four,
too young to understand the implications
of raising my hand and following my
Sunday school teacher’s repeat-after-me,
rinse and repeat prayer.
I lived my childhood as the good little
Christian my parents needed me to be,
following the Ten Commandments,
attending church three times a week,
even trying to enjoy the dull services,
the endless sitting and standing,
the same hymns every week—
but I was no different than that prayer
nearly a decade before,
just going through the motions.
At twelve, after an evangelist spewed
fire and brimstone for an hour,
my Mary Janes were trembling,
and I prayed again, hoping this time,
maybe, I would feel that peace
that passeth all understanding.
But still, I was lonely and searching—
my salvation was hollow, useless.
So, at fifteen, while tucked away at a
summer camp in the Appalachians
I prayed again, begging,
This is the last time, God.
I’m trying, but You’ve got to help me.
The bitterness at my abandonment
rose in my heart like the pretty balloon that
a child has grasped onto so tightly all
afternoon, but their fingers grow tired
after a long day in the heat, and
so the helium carries it up, up, up,
into the atmosphere,
into to the sun.
III. I Once Was Lost, But Now Am Found
I was seventeen, staring at my grandfather’s
lifeless body; he was clutching a decaying
photograph of my grandmother,
who had died only two years
before in this same bedroom.
He could have been in a deep sleep,
but then the old, rotted windows
would have been rattling from his snores.
I thought of the last prayer I ever said—
God, he’s dying. Just take him to Heaven. Please.
But God was never listening, was He?