My God Is a Shepherd

by Cantinker Moss

My, it’s been a while.

This poem is actually a lyric to a song penned under a different name. The song was part of a song list used when my wife and I would sing as part of a larger folk group.

The lyrics are simple, but I believe they paint a picture of my Savior, Jesus Christ. In the times in which we live, circa 2019, we sing the praises of this religious figure who on an historical level is considered with the Buddha, Mohammed, and Confucius. But Jesus was so much more…yea…is still so much more. He had so much to prove and yet didn’t need to prove a thing. Someone has said that Bob Dylan’s lyric about the fictional John Wesley Harding alludes to Jesus, who in the song “..was never known to make a foolish move” (Compare that to the antics of the real-life outlaw John Wesley Hardin in the Wild West.)

I once asked a friend a question like “What proof do you have that Jesus is all that he claims to be.” Actually I was venturing into a world of apologetics (which isn’t bad in itself), and in this present world of Christian Fundamentalism and Evangelicanism, for many, apologetics is the way to go. However, to paraphrase him, his reply to me was simply, “I don’t need all kinds of proof. I know what Jesus has done in my life.”

I don’t know how long it took me to write “My God Is a Shepherd,” but I never intended it to be complicated. I think that is what motivated men like Tyndale to translate the Bible into English, the vernacular of his nation—simple words for simple people. (not simpletons) Someone once said that [a picture is worth a thousand words.] and some pictures are. I hope that the following poem and its initial metaphor reveal a picture greater than others in this blog: a legendary race horse, or mountains in Wyoming, or whales in Alaska. Indeed these were made by the master sculptor himself. But instead of just creating and remaining aloof like some deities—my God is a shepherd.

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30–31, NIV)

Above photo by Biegun Wschodni@biegunwschodni

Courtesy of Unsplash photos for everyone



My God is a Shepherd. He brings in all the lambs
Into His cote protected from this weary land.
And though the wolves surround me, His staff is standing by,
And my God will protect me all the while.
My God will protect me all the while.
.
My God is a Teacher--a Lighthouse in the dark.
He shows the way more perfectly when my boat has embarked.
And though the waves of confusion may bend a sweeping tide,
My God will direct me all the while.
My God will direct me all the while.

My God is a Captain--so mighty and so sure.
He fights my foes so deadly--engaged in cosmic war.
Though mountains shake and stars may fall
And smoke rise to the sky,
My God, He will triumph all the while.
My God, He will triumph all the while.

My God is the best friend that anyone could be.
He sent His Son, Lord Jesus Christ, from sin to set me free.
And on that bright third morning He rose and death did die.
And my God still walks with me all the while.
My God still walks with me all the while.


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Mountains

by Cantinker Moss

Photo by Victoria Dihua Xue on Unsplash

 

I don’t know much about Mr. Tolkien and Middle Earth, but I think I remember a hobbit named Bilbo saying, “I want to see mountains!”

Now, I think I recall a Mt. Doom (appropriately named) and the Misty Mountains being there.  And didn’t that he-devil, Saruman, live in those highlands?  Where was it that the Fellowship went or where the old hobbit met his end for eternity?

But I am an American, all you short and tall gentleman—gentle creatures of Middle Earth.  And I live in Middle America—the Midwest—fly-over country where the wheat, corn, and soybeans grow…where great rivers run to the sea.  But where do many of those rivers begin?  They begin in the mountains.

I too, want to see mountains.  Let me show you mine.

First, there are the old men:  the Ozarks; grizzled in their age from the Mississippi River to Oklahoma.  They are full of springs and creeks with sand pines along their banks.  Then throughout the plateau, an assortment of hardwoods are arranged on a palette to display an autumn effulgence on a bright October day after a frost.  Ah, Legolas, you would never find a finer tree to make a bow.

Then there are the Appalachians, and all their children from Maine to Georgia:  the White and Green Mountains…the Berkshires…the Alleghenies…the Adirondacks and Catskills…the Blue Ridge and Smokies—The Great Smokies… with a rising haze as if someone lit the forest on fire without a flame—only the smoke.  In these eastern lands, north and south, are the passes and hollers that met Boone and the pioneers on their way west.  This is the land of Sevier and the Over-Mountain Men who defended those Carolina farms from the arrogance of a king and his army at Cowpens and yes, in all its irony, Kings Mountain.

But then there is the West with its Cascades, Sierra Nevadas, and Rockies.  It is a place, beyond the plains and prairies, full of glory but also sadness…a place of humiliation and a displaced people.  It is reminder of a flawed earthly history.  Some once called it a frontier.  But in fairness to all people, perhaps it can be a reminder of a newer hope in the hearts and minds of all people.  And might this hope be fixed on a point that is newer than all?  It is a kingdom, greater than all kingdoms, which has a King, greater than all kings.

All these earthly mountains, east and west…north and south, are still wonderful because the great King created them.  The ones in the West are still mighty and have the names that the great King allowed women and men to put on their maps.  Their names are Wind River… Sangre de Cristo…the San Juan Mountains in the Ucompahghre…the Grand Tetons…the Flat Irons…the Anaconda Range southwest of the Mussellshell…the Black Hills…the Wasatch… and the Land of the Canyons in Utah.  Oh yes, and then there is the canyon…the Grand Canyon.

Over in California are the Sierras with their gold and big trees.  East of that in Nevada, is Virginia City, Gold Hill, and the Comstock.  And out of those hills, Gimli, you could mine silver…the finest in the world, and which sustained a nation for a time.

Follow the Cascades north, and you will find Rainier, that great volcano, which some say is warm at the top.  Further north, is Denali in Alaska.  It is the earthly mountain that looks over all the mountains on the continent.  And then, in the middle of the western ocean, are the Islands.  They hold mountains shining with the fiery possibility of their own danger.

Mountains…East and West…North and South…all upon this great continent.  Climbed…cursed…on calendars…on postcards…photographed…painted…and in some cases, worshipped.  But what of a mountain rich in history…with nations at war for its divine wealth…a mountain that indeed moved kings, caliphs and presidents…yet, nobody’s property but those to whom it was given…someday sought by all…someday adored by all:  a holy hill named Zion.

No wonder Bilbo wanted to see mountains.