“Gain”

GAIN

From David & Cindi Gundersen To Our Wedding Guests
December Twentieth, Two Thousand and Two

Our Precious Family and Friends:
Your presence here tonight contends
That we have been more blessed than we
Deserve.  Our years, two score and three,
Have never once been lacking in
The gift of brothers, sisters, kin,
Of family by blood and Blood,
And parents sent in Mercy’s flood,
Of fathers who’ve not spared the rod
And mothers who have trusted God.

And so we offer Him our thanks
For you, our friends and colleagues, ranks
Of men who soldier for the Lord
And wives who ne’er protest when poured
Out for their husbands, children, home,
Of ready youth who leave to roam
The battlefield of earth and find
The crippled, wounded, poor, and blind,
Of men and women, old and gray,
Who soon will wear a fine array
Of garments blazing, shining white,
Reserved for those who fought the fight
Of faith until their dying breath
And loved our Jesus unto death.

Now as you go this winter’s eve,
Our only wish is that you leave
Reminded of the Gospel call.
Remember, then: To love with all
Your heart and soul and mind and strength,
To give the width and height and length
Of all your days may sound extreme
To those for whom the Western Dream
Holds sway.  To own two cars, a house,
Retire early, and to douse
Each flame of sacrifice with seas
And streams that numb with wealth and ease,
To always want the breezy air
Of comfort, and to know a fair,
Convenient life is not all wrong.
But Friends, beware: This Dream has strong
And sturdy roots that spread below
The ground.  And if you’ve let them grow,
Then you may find it hard to give
Away what you now need to live.
If so, we pray the mercy free
That staggers hearts will help you see:
He is no fool instead to choose
To die for what he cannot lose.

Now here, for you, our poem, in
A battle-cry.  So now begin,
Wheree'er you’re found in life tonight,
To walk by faith and not by sight.

Sometimes a rut is formed when we,
Accustomed to the normalcy
Of day-to-day and eight-to-five,
Grow satisfied to just survive.
And in this mood we soon forget
That battles rage and that to set
The cross aside is to retreat
And that Christ’s bride is taking heat
From every side.  We’re lulled into
The Devil’s lie that says: “Your few
Short days on earth should be enjoyed
With painless pleasure and devoid
Of fighting sin at any cost
And weeping for the dying lost.
A cross?  It is too much to bear.
Your Master is a bit unfair.
And sacrifice?  Come, eat and drink!
And never for a moment think
What you will gain if you will lose
Your life.  Come now and blindly choose
A life that knows no risk, no pain,
And never knows the loss that’s gain.”
We write to stir the camp tonight:
The fight of faith is still a fight.
It has not changed, nor ever will.
So wake, the wartime trumpet’s shrill
And piercing sound rings true and clear,
Commanding us: “Forsake your fear
Of losing comfort, family, wealth,
Of risking reputation, health,
And life.  A true security
Is only found in Sovereignty.
And risk will be no risk at all
When foll’wing after Jesus’ call.”

Take heed, Young Men: A vapor fades
More rapidly than dry cascades
Of earthbound promises will tell.
It is not just the goal of Hell
That sinister and evil deeds
Be done by you, but that your needs,
Desires, and wants both good and ill
Provoke your soul to drink its fill
From streams that are not God.  His gifts
Have not been meant to cut deep rifts
Between the thirsty soul and Him.

Beware, Young Women: dreams of slim
And slender figures being yours
Distract the soul and open doors
To fantasies that never end
And only want the lust of men.
Deceitful charm and beauty vain
Are not to be compared with plain
And righteous women of the truth:
Naomi, Hannah, Mary, Ruth,
And you, if you will find your praise
In fearing God for all your days.
Forsake the gods of form and dress
And rather, put on godliness.

You Husbands, Fathers, be alert
And act like men.  Do not convert
The wartime calling of the day
Into a life of leisure, play,
Of prime-time trivialities
And searching for the calmer seas
Of life.  Stand firm.  Be strong and bold
And, following the men of old,
March on by faith and not by sight
And live by dying for the right,
Your children, and your wives.  The cost
Of warring for the Christless lost,
Of guiding church and family –
The cost of love – will always be,
Has always been, the cost of life.
But be on guard: the heart is rife
With throbbing pride that hopes applause
Will soon fulfill the world’s laws
That say good deeds should always earn
The praise of men and that to learn
To bask in self-esteem is good
And narcissism is what should
Prevail.  Self-pity never is
The wage for love.  It was not His
And is not yours.  So, rather, give
Yourselves, O Men, and dying, live.
And trust, whatever loss or pain:
If life is Christ then death is gain.
And therefore say, whate’er the price:
“I never made a sacrifice.”

Dear Mothers, Wives: An excellent
And selfless woman who is spent
For child and home and family
Is worth far more than jewels.  Her knee
Is bent at sunrise and at night
In prayer.  Her work is her delight.
She helps the needy and the poor
And does not let herself adore
The present fashion and the trend
That comes and goes.  She does not lend
Attention to the daytime shows
Or panic to the many woes
Of life.  Her husband’s heart can trust
In her because he knows the lust
For headship in both home and church
Will not inspire her to search
For schemes by which to undermine
The union that was made a sign
Of Christ, the Head, who lived and died
For her, the yielding, blood-bought bride.
Now be the woman who will yield
Her life and who will be a shield
For all her house.  And do not eat
the bread of idleness but greet
With courage and with steadfast joy
Your years of labor and employ
The grace that gave your place and role
And makes the yielding woman whole.
Faith’s fight is no less vicious in
The home.  So fight by grace and win.

Old Men and Women, it is still
The Scriptures’ claim that holy thrill
And happiness is yours if you
Wait eagerly for fresh and new
And resurrected bodies that
Forever live.  With hope combat
Temptations from our modern world
That claim that when a flag’s unfurled
The youth alone should raise it high.
Remember: It is gain to die.
Do not give in to lazy schemes
That promise to fulfill the dreams
Of those who seek to satisfy
Their later years with idle, dry,
And empty days.  But plead and pray
For Mercy’s cause.  Then, join the fray.
And leave a legacy of hope
That gave you strength to scale the slope
And persevere through pit and peak
And taught you well that valleys speak
More worthwhile lessons than do hills
And that a pain-free, paved path kills
The growth of faith because the needs
Of life are met and so the seeds
Of desperation are not sown.
For faith grows weak if faith’s not grown
By fertilizing helplessness,
By gracious hardship and distress,
By suffering and grief and pain.
So bless the clouds and trust the rain
That seems to only drown and soak
Is there to send a sturdy oak
Of faith into uncertain skies
Where thunder rolls and storms arise.
Stand firm, O saints with silver crown.
The frontline’s yours.  The King’s renown
Is all at stake.  Take up your arms:
The love and mercy, grace and charms
Of Christ.  Calm unbelieving fears.
For you will know, when He appears,
What, by His grace, by faith, you’ve done:
By dying, lived; by losing, won.

And now we speak to you who do
Not follow Christ.  We plead with you:
Do not believe the world’s pitch
That promises that every itch
And want and need it will fulfill,
Or that your heart is good and will
Be worthy of God’s favor when
You stand before Him at the end.
Not one of us is good, not one.
We’re full of sin.  But God’s own Son
Was sent to pay Hell’s awful price:
A living, dying sacrifice.
Then from the dead He rose – the proof
That He is God Himself.  This truth
Is absolute.  So turn tonight
From passing pleasures.  Dead delight
E’en in God’s gifts can never save
But are a banquet in the grave.
So turn, forsake the good you thought
Could earn you life.  For God has bought
Eternal, happy, joy-filled days
For him He chose – who bows and prays
To be delivered from his sin;
Who knows no good will be found in
The things he does, but trusts in Christ
And turns from wickedness and vice
And loves the Lord and seeks His face
And lives by faith that comes by grace.
Come, take this gift – it’s freely giv’n.
Forsake this world and gain free Heav’n.

Dear Family and Friends and Lost:
Our common theme is this: the cost
Of foll’wing Christ is high on earth
But oh, the gain, and oh, the worth
Of all that waits for you above
Who walk by faith and live to love.
It is not pay for all your loss,
But still more grace from Jesus’ cross.
So be a radical and give
Your all to Christ, and dying, live.
And trust, whatever loss or pain:
To live is Christ; to die is gain.
And therefore say, whate’er the price:
“I never made a sacrifice.”

 

© David A. Gundersen, 2004

 

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