Category Archives: By Elaine Gingrich

Thirty-Three Years: A Life [Poem by Mom]

Have you been impatiently waiting for the monthly poem from my mom? No, we have not forgotten. Here it is, just in time to help you remember the death and life of Christ.

God bless you as you read Mom’s poem and meditate on Christ.


I remember as a young girl, lying on the grass, gazing at the immense blue summer sky above me, and trying to grasp in the “grain of sand” that was my mind, the concept of eternity. As the clouds moved lazily overhead I pondered the puzzle of eternity past and eternity future, tried to envision the vast expanses of “time” implied, and wondered which would be more irrational, that God should have never begun—how could that be!—or that He should have a beginning—but then how and why could He have begun? I would try to stretch my mind across the eons of eternity from past to future until I felt my brain would explode.

G. K. Chesterton said that “poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea… the result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet desires… a world to stretch himself in… asks only to get his head into the heavens… the logician… seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head which splits.”

The Scriptures tell us it is “by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…not…of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3, NKJV, italics added).

I was nearing fifty years of age when I wrote the following poem about Christ’s time on earth, and my brain felt no more adequate then of grasping the puzzle of Christ’s work of salvation than it was earlier with the concept of eternity.

The puzzle: Did Jesus come to live or to die for us? His death was only efficacious because of His Resurrection and because of His perfect life. His life alone could not have saved us. He needed a body for the very purpose of dying for us. Remission of sin demands blood shed, a death, a sacrifice.

Romans 5:1 says we are “justified by faith” in Him “who was delivered up [to death] because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25, NKJV, italics added).

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Rom. 11: 33, NASB)

In humble faith I celebrate and trust in the life and death and resurrection of my Risen Lord and Saviour as all-sufficient for my eternal salvation!

—Elaine Gingrich, March 1, 2016


THIRTY-THREE YEARS: A LIFE

He came to die, but first He came to live.
Not as some faceless, flat protagonist
Who dies in a pale story, never missed
By readers. No, our captured minds would give
The world to know this Man. The finest sieve
Can catch no fault in Him. Go down the list
From “healed a leper” to “by traitor kissed,”
Then watch Him die unjustly, yet forgive.

Here was a man to tower above men,
With strength to calm the stormy Galilee,
With touch more tender than a baby’s sigh.
Here was a man deserves to live again,
A man to love! We turn the page to see
The script. He lives! But first He came to die.

—Elaine Gingrich, May 2, 2000


While this was not her intent, Mom’s insight about the need to connect the life and the death of Christ has been the subject of some recent discussion in scholarly circles.

N.T. Wright, for example, wrote a book called How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels. Wright argues that evangelicals and other confessional Christians, influenced by the pattern of the ancient creeds, have tended to emphasize the virgin birth and the cross of atonement while skipping over the life of Christ with his radical kingdom teachings. Liberal theologians, however, influenced by post-Enlightenment critical scholarship and embarrassed by the miraculous elements of Jesus’ birth and death, have emphasized the exemplary power of his human life.

But true Christianity needs both—the kingdom teachings and life of Jesus on the one hand, and also his miraculous, saving death and resurrection. In Wright’s words, we need both kingdom and cross. (While I have not read this book, I have listened about three times to this lecture Wright gave on the same topic. Highly recommended.)

Wright is a scholar of the first rank, but his book above is written for a general audience. Pastors have also written on this subject, such as Tim Chester in his 2015 book Crown of Thorns: Connecting Kingdom and Cross. (I have not read this book, but am familiar enough with Chester to feel confident it will be a useful read.)

I am excited to see scholars and pastors grasp this insight. But understanding exactly how Jesus’ life and death relate together to save us and shape our lives is secondary to simply trusting and following him. So it’s okay if you identify with what Mom said after I shared some of the above with her:

You can develop the deep debates and I will stick to the simpler faith foundation. 🙂

I am deeply grateful to my mother for helping to keep my faith foundation firm, both in my youth and to this day.


For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!


Save page

God Bless This Ark; As Arrows from the Hand [Poems by Mom]

Today is Family Day in several Canadian provinces, including my home province of Ontario. On this day I’m sharing two poems from Mom, both expressions of a mother’s love for her family.

Mom initially planned to share one poem this month. Then her prose introduction evolved into a free verse poem in its own right! So I’ll post both poems, in the order in which they were written.

Both poems are written in a parent’s voice, a reflective voice that longs to trust God as children grow up and leave home. Letting go of children often isn’t easy, perhaps especially for mothers. Our oldest is only seven, so we don’t expect our children to leave our nest any time soon. But already we have moments of letting go.

Last spring my wife had one of those moments. While wading at a nearby park, our daughters suddenly decided that they wanted to walk—by themselves—out to the end of the dock. Zonya’s heart skipped a beat; our daughters don’t know how to swim. But Zonya knew what she must do. She told the two oldest to hold hands and walk carefully. Then she let them walk—by themselves—all the way out to the end of the dock…

Dock-out

turn around…

Dock-turn

and return safely to shore. Mission accomplished!

Dock-return
Look at those smiles!

Then our littlest, only two and a half years old, wanted to copy her big sisters! My wife compromised: She walked with her out to the end of the dock—or almost to the end. Just before the end, their hands released. Our littlest took a few steps further on her own, turned, and walked back to her mother. She was so pleased! And as Zonya told me the story, I was proud of my wife! 

Marching fearlessly to shore.
Marching fearlessly to shore.

Here are Mom’s poems. Enjoy!


GOD BLESS THIS ARK

I watch the van pull slowly out the drive,
All my life’s labour safely stored inside,
And think of baby Moses kept alive—
So soon our children are too old to hide.

So soon I stand alone like Jochebed,
All that I treasure moving out of sight,
And pray with mingled confidence and dread,
“Lord, have I daubed and pitched the ark just right?”

 So often I have waved good-bye before,
All that I love torn from me for awhile,
And later found them safely at my door.
Could Moses’ mother hide her secret smile?

That first school day, a visit overnight,
A full time job, long trips away from home.
I wait like Miriam, prudent, out of sight,
And watch the ark bob gently on its own.

Is my ark built securely? Will it float?
Only by testing waters will we know.
Show me the time, Lord. I trust to You this boat.
For parenthood is learning to let go.

—Elaine Gingrich, October 1991


AS ARROWS FROM THE HAND

What tender arrows these
From our poor quiver sent
On such a long trajectory
Across the dizzying plains of miles and years
From the aching bow of empty arms.
How can we know they went
The course intended?

Forces beyond the archer’s goals and dreams
Propel the flight, divert the path—
Currents of time and winds of ideology.

Lost in the past the days we spent
When we squinted hard on distant noble goal,
Cradled the bow, steadied the shaking hand and heart,
Pulled taut the string
And shot our treasured shafts,
Such tender shoots,
And watched them take their wing.
What of our roots?
And were our bow and aim both true enough?

Strange weapons these to face a deadly world,
A modern world with weapons once unknown.
Strange archers too, so young, untried, untrained.
And yet we fired them forth—
Our messengers of hope
To find their way
As meteor’s flash, as flaming spears,
To fight the realms of darkness;
Bearers of light,
Resisting the false, the foe.
We trust the Target’s pull,
A magnet for the homing arrowhead.

They may forget the bow
That sprung their flight, but oh!
For archer and for arrow to remember this:
The final Target that we dare not miss.

—Elaine Gingrich, February 9, 2016


For a companion and foil to Mom’s two poems, listen to this song by Chris Christian, “Love Them While You Can,” which reminds children to love their parents—before they, too, leave their earthly home. (I own this Chris Christian LP album and listened to it just the other night, while playing Monopoly with my daughters!)

May God bless each of your families, today and always. And remember, as I often remind my daughters, “God put you in the same family so you could learn to love each other!”


For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!


Save page

Partly Free [Poem by Mom]

Winter is a time of waiting. True, activity abounds in places as varied as ski hills and bird feeders. But the grand cycle of life is largely on pause, or at least pursuing quieter goals, waiting for spring’s exuberance.

SnowyBranch Photo Credit: Greying_Geezer via Compfight cc

Waiting isn’t always easy. It creates unresolved tension between the present and the future. Waiting draws our eye incessantly to the future with its promise of fulfilled hope, yet the very distance of the future means that we return our gaze to the present to find sights that reinforce our hope.

Thankfully, when we wait on God, he provides both a promise worth waiting for and daily mercies to renew our spirits while we wait.

Mom explores thoughts such as these in “Partly Free,” the poem she’s sharing this month. Her words remind me of winters at my childhood home, which is where she wrote this poem years ago. Here is an aerial view of that home, surrounded by lakes and the northern bush (Canadian for “woods”). We lived on the little peninsula right in the middle of the photo:

Mom’s poem also reminds me of some words of Paul, which I’ll share as a final prelude to Mom’s poem:

You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

…We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:15-16, 23-25)

Have we been adopted, or have we not? Truly, we are “partly penned in, partly free.”


PARTLY FREE

Thanks be to God for peaceful northern woods,
That this home is mine,
That all my cares of life and earthly goods
Can be cathedralled in white birch and pine.

For placid lakes that beckon in the morn
With loon’s wailing words,
Still as a waiting church while day is born,
Prayerfully listening to the waking birds.

For winter walks when morning holds its breath,
At God’s extravagance,
Snowfalls cocoon in a world as still as death,
Woodpeckers telegraph my hushed advance.

For skies that lift me from my close-walled house,
From a world too small,
For ancient pines that move me with their boughs,
Bent but unconquered by the wintry squall.

Thanks be to God for His hand-print all around,
In a world that waits;
Nature, as well as my body, still is bound,
Saved by the hope of redemption by His grace.

How I would miss the glimpses of His face
Were this kept from me,
Though I suspect, in any time and place,
I would feel partly penned in, partly free.

—Elaine Gingrich, May-June 1994


For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!


Save page