by Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay

I've only recently become acquainted with Dan, but I recognize him as a man of conviction and God-breathed insight. He's a true poet-a leader and a compassionate helper. The Lord has beautiful designs for Dan far beyond the boundaries of his band, Jars of Clay. Of this I am convinced. When you've finished reading Dan's essay, return immediately to the top, and read it again. Then, on another day, read it a third time. Listen for the voice of Holy God and be still. -Steve Hindalong



Listen to Dan sing "The Stone" with Jars of Clay

Slowly, confidently, the train pulled away from its resting place. It had struck a deal with time and so rode away with the remaining seconds it would have taken me to climb aboard. The whistle sounded in triumph, betraying its joy over having caused another would-be passenger to slow down-if only for a few stolen minutes. I felt my heart fall like a coin tossed carelessly into a darkened well. I held my breath with anticipation of its reaching the bottom. I would have to wait. It was Chicago. Many trains would be setting out in the direction I needed to go.

The train station was a cold mixture of marble and old wood. I surveyed the room. It was a drink wild with the intoxication of hurried commuters mid-pilgrimage, anxiously awaiting the first views of home. These were mixed with the defeated, abandoned scattering of those whose home had somehow eluded them or whose refuge this place of transit had become.

For the people with nowhere to go this was simply a time to dance along with the echoes of incoming and outgoing dreams. Their slumber took the shape of solace and became an escape from the reality, their search for home thus far was fruitless.

A different sort of sorrow erupted within me for the travelers who were only part way on their journey. And I saw others around me who had a clear destination, a lucid picture of the last few pages of this tragic and romantic journey. They were more out of sorts and bated in breath than their slumbering comrades.

Together we would wait. So lost in our travels, so insignificant within the scope of forever, so unwilling to notice.

My eyes wandered away from these various characters and toward the background on which the stage was set. I began to walk in rhythm to the predictable patterns of ancient gray and pearl-white squares. One missed square for every two tread under my feet, like a lethargic game of hopscotch. It took only a few moments to succumb to the trance-like awe that can only be felt in a place of such majesty. Is this a fitting home for a King, with its mile-high stone walls and a wealth of ornamental mastery? Not even a king could dare conquer the dreams or outsmart this court whose presence is made known in the rushing of the hour.

Could angels dwell in these very rooms? Surely, their wings could stretch to the east and west and never feel the threat of capture or closure. For only God and the infinity of heart and soul could feel the walls of such a place closing in around them. To all such things, this was a home.

So I took a deep breath and embraced the extremes that stood before me. The moment was like an old hymn billowing forth the immeasurable greatness of God and the all-too-measurable depravity of man. The clash of human mortality was on exhibit through leathery skin and charcoal hair. And the wild immortality which shone through carved granite statues under whose gaze Hercules would tremble and fall, had told a story of Gospel proportions. This is where David and Goliath crossed paths. And so I worshiped.

I heard the voice echo over the speaker, announcing that my train was ready to board. I took one last look at the "church" before me and stepped onto the train. I can only guess that the scheming of the hours to steal away moments of awe and wonder will never end. And the shortness of breath which renders our lips void of praise will forever cause our hearts to pound for things other than truth. So I am thankful for the hymns God blesses us with when we are forced to stop in our tracks and are inspired to worship.

Taken from: City On A Hill
Copyright 2000 by Steve Hindalong
Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402 and
CCM Books, a division of CCM Communications, Nashville, TN 37205
Used by Permission


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