The day was nearly gone as darkness softly fell,
Whisperin’ secrets on the evenin’ breeze that words could never tell
Of the sorrows and the joys of simple souls
And of a man whose life was passin’ like the fire from dyin’ coals.
From his back porch he could see the fading light
And hear his rocker slowly creakin’ with the crickets and the night
And his breath was flowin’ steady as the tide
And he’d clean forgot there was a young man sittin’ at his side.
“If you had it all to do over again,”
Said the lad of seventeen to the gray and agin’ man,
“Would you do it all the same, or would you plan
To live a different kind of life and be a different kind of man?”
The old blue eyes took on the look of deep dark waters,
And he gazed into the night and stroked rough whiskers as he thought.
“If I had it all to do over again,”
He sighed at last in a voice that sounded hollow, strained and thin,
“I would seek the things that count, and not pretend
That what life’s all about is seein’ how much money I could spend.
You see, I’ve taken all that this world has to give,
Done most of what there is to do—and yet, it seems I’ve never lived.
Almost all my life I’ve searched for pots of gold,
Ignorin’ people all around me who were starvin’ in the cold.
When I was young, there was a time I tried to be
A humble man who cared for others, but I guess it’s not in me.
Now there’s a world out there I’ve hardly even seen.
Words like trust and truth and love are like strange faces in a dream.
And I’ve never cared much for knowin’ right from wrong,
And though I’ve been here nearly 80 years, it’s like I don’t belong.
If I could live again, I’d need some good advice,
‘Cause if I haven’t learned the first time, ain’t no point in livin’ twice.”
The young man gazed beyond the starry night above
And thanked the Father who can see our hearts and yet still gives his love.
He said silently, “Oh Lord, you’ve heard my prayer,
And you’ve prepared this old man’s heart to receive the grace you share.
Now grant me words to speak, Oh Lord my God,” he prayed,
“That will turn his achin’ heart to your livin’ hope that will not fade.
Let your Word pierce like a light into his soul,
Not to blind and tear and hurt, but to heal and make him whole.
Make him see what only you can make him see,
That he may know that you will help him be what you made him to be.”
Then he opened up his mouth and gently spoke,
And he watched the old eyes glow like tiny flames through clouds of smoke.
He said, “There’s ways that seem so right and good to men,
But they turn to dust and ashes of destruction in the end.
If your life is like a bottle filled with sin,
Then the best thing you can do is dump it out and start over again.
Broad’s the way that leads to death, and wide’s the gate;
Many shove their way inside and then want out, but it’s too late.
Narrow is the road to life, and few there are
That find that way of perfect peace that leads us to the Morning Star.
On that darkened road they sing in words of pain;
They’re just singin’ to forget, but their sorrows still remain.
On the narrow road, they sing with shouts of joy,
For there’s a newness in their hearts that they know nothin’ can destroy.
And there’s nothin’ that they fear, not even death;
It’s behind them, and there’s nothin’ left but life with every breath.
And they know it’s not by anything they do
That they’ve come to know the One whose job is makin’ all things new.
When the Blood was shed, the price was paid in full,
And though our sins be crimson red, they’ll be white as virgin wool.
Yes, there is a way to turn your life around.
What was dead will be made alive; what was lost will then be found.
For a man gave all his life a sacrifice.
He’s the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords,
The Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The old blue eyes took on the look of distant hills
Disappearin’ in the mist, as the tears began to spill.
Beneath the vastness of the night, the young man prayed
For God’s light to be revealed and that the devil’s hand be stayed.
Then the rockin’ stopped; the old man bowed his head
And spoke the words he knew to be the sweetest words he’d ever said.
“Thank you, Lord,” the old voice whispered as he wept,
“That you’ve brought to light my sins and all the secrets that I’ve kept.
For you’ve shown your light within me, deep inside;
Now where darkness always reigned, there’s no place left for it to hide.
Please forgive me, Lord, I’ve been a sinful man.
I give my final years to you; I know they’ll prosper in your hand.
And thank you, Lord, that you have made a way for men
To be forgiven of their sins, to be made clean,
to start over again.”
© 1975 and 2019 by Stratton Jennings (Gary Hassig)
All Rights Reserved.