Posts Tagged ‘I’ll Fly Away’

 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you;  bind them around your neck,  write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man (Proverbs 3:3,4).”

This week I taught my English class for internationals how to write a haiku. I don’t really care for poetry that much, but I have always liked this form.
Perhaps it is because of its simplicity. As someone said to me recentlyt, anyone can write a haiku.
The original form of haiku is written as written in Japanese is very terse. Therefore, to communicate the idea of the style in English, the form,  i.e. the stanzas and syllables have to be even shorter than they are in Japanese.
After I read my students  a sample of my own work, I had them to do it. From what I could tell, they did a wonderful job. One Indonesian girl ran up to me and proudly showed me her work.
This must be my week for Japanese culture because I ran into a version of an old Frank Sinatra hit done recently by Japanese-American singer Hikaru Otada. She adds new life to a song I never have cared for in the past.
Utada seems to be an admirable young lady.  That great everyman source Wikipedia says of her breakthrough in the late 1990s:” Unlike other pop-stars at the time, she was more focused on becoming a singer and songwriter while other Japanese female singers were attempting to become idols.”
Ms. Utada apparently knows that to be a success she has to hone her craft and work hard. She doesn’t seek to just be “famous for being famous”.
It’s a real temptation for Christians today, including yours truly, to discard the work ethic  required to be exemplary believers and aim instead for becoming Christian pop culture “heros of the faith”,  without meeting up with the disciplines required. We want to be Christian divas, God knows why.
Hiraku’s opening to the classic song “Fly Me to the Moon” shows she knows what it takes to make life work:
“Poets often use many words
  to say a simple thing
  But it takes thought and time and rhyme
  to make a poet sing.”
To make a Christian life “sing” requires superior character (I Timothy 3:1-13). This is not obtained overnight, nor does it come easy.
So you want to be hot stuff in Christian circles?  Be careful what you ask for. It’s a worthy goal, but it may take a lifetime.
This is because we came into this world in plebeian fashion. We have a lot of sin and experiences from our youth to overcome.
Upon birth into this world, we were hit by a flying curse (Zechariah 5:1-4).  Thanks be to God, we have Him to heal the torment caused by it.
Hikaru Utada, introduces this healing from God:
“With music and words
  I’ll be playin’
  For you I have written a song

  To be sure that you’ll know what
  I’m sayin’ I’ll translate as I go along.”

God does the same for us. He wants our lives to be an expression of Him, if you will, a beautiful song.
When we come to Jesus Christ, He puts a desire in us. Jesus gives us the longing  to soar from the plight of the curse:
” Fly me to the moon
  and let me play among the stars
  Won’t you let me see what spring is like
  On Jupiter and Mars

   Fill my heart with song
  and let me sing forever more
  ’cause you are all I long for
  All I worship and adore.”

 We don’t even know what our hearts are singing, but God does. He translates for us as we go along:

  “…In other words
  hold my hand
In other words
  darling kiss me

 “… In other words
  please me true
  In other words
  I love you.”

  Our souls crave love which seems to be in this world at a considerable distance away . We want God to fly us to the moon and beyond, where His loving arms await . It seems so unattainable because of the curse.

We want a Lover of Our Souls who will be faithful. We love Him, although we don’t know why, and we want to hold His hand.
We know we won’t find this faithfulness in our fellow humans.  We aren’t as true as we should be.
Yet, I believe and hope against hope that life can be a poem, one we write together with Jesus, despite the curse.
Catholic priest Gregory Boyle writes,”What the American poet William Carlos Williams said of poetry could well be applied to the living of our lives: ‘If it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem’.”
Does life have to be all suffering all the time? I think not. I think perhaps this is not what God had in mind at the Creation.
Boyle’s colleague in a ministry to gang members says,”God created us because He thought we’d enjoy it.” Boyle himself adds,”God so loved the world that we’d find the poetry in it.”
However,  a life of  lovely lyrics requires our participation. We won’t get it by sitting on the sofa watching karaoke.
Hikaru Utada this year took a sabbatical from her music career. Why?  To focus on self improvement.
According to the Japan Today website, she wrote on her blog,“I want to study new things, and see and experience things in this big world that I don’t know about.” 
To me, this girl is “all that”. She knows it takes a heart to learn and a will to focus to get  to where she wants to be, not just as a musician, but as a person.
God wants to fly us to the moon. Indeed, He used Brian Littrell of the music group The Backstreet Boys to express what’s in His mind:”Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.
When thinking of this quote, which I saw on a plaque in a bookstore the other day, I consider the source. Littrell is a committed believer in Jesus Christ.
He was born with a heart defect which has threatened his life on several occasions, according to Wikipedia.  He finally had a hole in his heart repaired in the late 1990s.
As believers in Jesus, we all require heart surgery.  God has performed that through Jesus Christ.
Apparently we’re now capable of shooting for the moon and the stars. We are able to be noble in this life.
“Noble is
what I want to be
It doesn’t
fall from trees, my friend
takes a choice to aim
for glory”.
While we shoot for the stars in this life, we know one day we’ll get there:
“Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away). 

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away). 

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away) 

In the meantime, well,…you know.



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“I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:23,24).

Albert E. Brumley was like a lot of us.  He was working hard at a job he didn’t care to do, and wanted to get away.

In his particular context, he was picking cotton on his father’s Oklahoma farm in 1929. Anyone who has ever seen the movie “The Grapes of Wrath” can conjure up an image of what that must have been like.

At the time, out in that field, he was humming a popular song called,”If I Had the Wings of an Angel”.  This created thoughts of flying away, which led to him composing one of the most popular hymns of all time, “I’ll Fly Away”.

Brumley was a spiritual man. However, his motives were more landlocked than heavenly. “Actually” he is recorded as saying, “I was dreaming of flying away from that cotton field when I wrote ‘I’ll Fly Away’.”

We all want to get away at times, especially when things are difficult. A TV commercial sponsored by an airline has this  theme.

A woman is pictured in this ad as boringly sitting next to her computer. She clicks a button, triggering a virus that infects every computer in her office. The announcer says, “Wanna Get Away?”.

Perhaps we’re bored like this woman. Or maybe our job stinks. There are a lot of reasons why someone would want to hop the next plane out. I personally have a list a mile long which would cause me to head to the airport.

Depression can lead to a death wish. Because the depressed one feels miserable and life seems miserable, he or she wants to get away from this life.

I personally suffer from this malady. In some ways, in my middle age, I believe I have wasted my years, and the future doesn’t seem to hold anything better.

Yet, in my heart I have a glimmer of hope. I believe it is possible for me to finish my life strong for God.

Many men my age tend to do the opposite. The most famous man to flame out early for God and finish poorly is Solomon.

One thing that gives me hope that my life may not be a waste and that I can finish well is a parable Jesus told. It is known as “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.”

In this story, Jesus tells of a landowner who hired men throughout the day to work his vineyard for an agreed upon wage.

Late in the afternoon, the landowner spotted some men standing around doing nothing. He hired them even though it was late in the day. Not only that, he paid them as if they had worked the entire day (Matthew 20:1-16).

As in the story, where the laborers who were hired earlier beefed about this policy of the landowner, the idea that God may show mercy to a person late in life may not set well with some people.  After all, these folks haven’t spent most of  their life living for Him.

A friend of Job probably had this attitude. Here is what he thought:

“Surely you know how it has been from of old,
   ever since mankind was placed on the earth, 
that the mirth of the wicked is brief,
   the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. 
Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens
   and his head touches the clouds, 
he will perish forever, like his own dung;
   those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ 
Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,
   banished like a vision of the night (Job 20:4-8).”

What right does a person who has stumbled his whole life in their relationship with God have to spend their latter days living for Him. It doesn’t seem fair. Wouldn’t it be better if he or she DID fly away?

 Rewarding a latecomer to God seems similar to the organizers of the Boston Marathon actually declaring Rosie Ruiz the winner. Ms. Ruiz was the woman who was originally thought to have won the event, only to have been found to have run onto the course a half mile from the finish line.

Rosie is considered one of the most infamous cheaters of all time. She has had to live with this shame her whole life.  Surely, her years since the Boston Marathon haven’t been easy.

I don’t expect the rest of my days to be a picnic, either. I will most likely pay for the mistakes of my life until the day I die. Indeed, we do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).

Yet, God allows me to turn it around. I can still show up in heaven and be given a pat on the back from Jesus and a “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

All I have to do is give the rest of my life away–to Him. After that, I’ll let Jesus decide when it is time to fulfill Alfred E. Brumley’s lyrics:

“Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory,
I’ll fly away;
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have grown,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joys shall never end,
I’ll fly away.”

But, not yet.

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