Reflections in Rhyme: Meditations on Holy Scripture
On January 1, 2016, after weeks of planning, my New Year’s resolution went from promise to performance as I penned the first of 365 meditations based upon my study of Holy Scripture. Before the year began, I had determined I would once again commit to reading the entire Word of God from cover to cover. Not one to generally make such yearly commitments, I had successfully completed this promise in prior years. However, this year, I would do more than just read His Word. With purposeful prayer and daily reading of Scripture, I would create my own unique poetic devotional. This personal goal stemmed from a desire to strengthen my relationship with the Lord, deepen my faith, increase my wisdom, and improve my recall of scriptures to become a better witness for Christ.
Originally, my plan was to read a predetermined portion of the Bible each day and write one short verse encompassing the message of the Scripture passage, my personal reflection on its meaning, or how I could apply God’s message to my life. To begin, I would pray for understanding and for God’s Word to be imprinted in my mind and embedded in my heart, then I would read the scheduled passage. After reflecting on His Word, and more prayer, my verse writing and rhyming strategy ensued. Being a grandmother and a high school teacher, I focused on how I could explain each book in the Bible to a teenager in today’s vernacular. Drawing on the multi-faceted experiences I have had as a nineth through twelfth grade intervention specialist, I would also include references to modern day culture, historical events, and famous people found in the typical curriculum for a high school student. Thus, by the end of the year, my devotional would be complete, and I would have created a beautiful legacy for my granddaughters to pass on my love for the Holy Bible which my father had instilled in me.
To make this devotional a more enjoyable and consistent read from the first to the last meditation, I crafted a set format to follow for each meditation. Further, I wanted a more challenging task than I had employed in previous Bible reading resolutions. Each time I had previously read through the Bible, I would always make a written note of the key message found in the reading passage. But this time, following my designed format to create a small verse of reflection, each meditation would have its own rhyme ending, and syllabication of alternating lines would be arranged to maintain a pattern of nine then ten syllables. As you read my meditations, I hope you will appreciate the continuity of the rhyme and syllable pattern within this poetic couplet structure that I tried to consistently apply throughout my text. However, I did deviate from my usual rhyming practice with the book of Proverbs. Rather than each meditation, each adage contained within Proverbs was given its own rhyme. Relying heavily on internet searches for correct rhymes and syllable counts, I found not all sites concurred on pronunciation, syllabication, and at times even word meaning. Inaccuracies may exist, but not intentionally. Therefore, if you’re not sure of pronunciation, especially for the last word of each line, remember it should rhyme with all other end words, even the title of the reflection. While I purposefully used many poetic devices, standard punctuation rules can guide your reading of each reflection as a piece of prose. I hope the reoccurring poetic couplet structure will provide an uplifting look at God’s Holy Word.
With this added rhythmic challenge, like most resolutions, my plan to complete 365 reflective verses in one year was a tad shortsighted. Through the first quarter of 2016, my quota for the week was met, if not each day, I would catch up by the end of the weekend and recommit to do better the next week. While my first few meditations were concise in their content, over time my verses expanded in length as my understanding of God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the scriptures increased. Thus, it began to take more than one day to read a passage, fully conceptualize its meaning, and write a verse that highlighted its most important details. Furthermore, life tended to get in the way. My passion to travel the world, my pursuit of other hobbies, and my penchant for procrastination frequently stood in the way of completing my daily goal and my weekends were becoming more involved with other pastimes to play catch-up. Consequently, I gained more discernment as I spent more time contemplating each passage. I completed my goal five years behind schedule, but I believe this was in accordance with the Lord’s will as He led me to discover the many plans he had for Reflections in Rhyme. The delays and obstacles I have encountered since January of 2016, though personally frustrating, have been encountered to bring the Lord more glory and evoke the necessary changes in me.
Through my prayer life, I had discerned the Lord was the source of my imagination to create each meditation, the wherewithal to complete my poetic devotional, and the inspiration for the encouragement I had received to publish my work. It had less to do with fulfilling my personal resolution yet everything to do with God and discovering His plan for my life. I have come to greatly appreciate how all human plans are superseded by the Lord’s timing and how remarkable life can be when His will is followed. His plan and His purpose will do more than I had initially resolved to do. I believe the Lord laid this project on my heart in 2015, though long before he had positioned me to be ready to write at the start of 2016. He had given me the right background, the requisite experiences, the appropriate gifts, and the consuming motivation to create Reflections in Rhyme which pointed me toward the task He has purposed for my life, in and out of my usual classroom.
With retirement right around the corner, I believe my mission field will be changing but my spiritual gift of teaching will still be utilized. Public education is not open to spreading the Good News in the classroom, but there are many other venues where I can continue to witness by more than just example to point the lost to the Lamb of God and the hope He provides. Many times, I have prayed for my students, their families, and my colleagues that seem to have no relationship with the Lord and for a way I could point to the book that holds the answer to every question and the solution for every dilemma. While my purpose to write my verse was for my growth, I believe His purpose for my work is the answer to those prayers.
The Holy Bible is God’s true and authoritative message to mankind. His Word can inspire, uplift, entertain, strengthen, correct, discipline, educate, guide, bring solace to a weary soul, and so much more. It reveals God’s character, His promises, and the path to salvation. No other text can do the same. As I move toward retirement, I aim to follow through on the mission God has laid on my heart, utilize Reflections in Rhyme: Meditations on Holy Scripture to create lessons that will encourage and require my new students whether young or old to delve into the Word of God. Used in conjunction with the Holy Book, I believe my meditations and the techniques I have honed over the expanse of my teaching career can be used to show the power, the promise, and the perfection that can be found only in the Creator, the Comforter, and Christ.
Until then, it is my fervent prayer that my meditations will lead you, my readers, to an enthusiasm for reading the Bible each day. Through this endeavor, my faith has been strengthened, my convictions cemented, and my life thoroughly enriched. I believe wholeheartedly it can do the same for anyone who will spend time with the Lord pursuing a committed prayer life and a commitment to read His Word daily. While it may not be your passion to reflect on your reading in rhyme, I pray as well that you will endeavor to find a meaningful and personal way to embed God’s Word into your heart and mind.
My reflections are a contemplative expression of my personal insight. I wish you to know it is not my intent to malign any person, group, belief, or religious practice or take credit for words that are not mine. If my interpretations are wrong, I regretfully acknowledge the possibility; I am not a theologian. If my words coincide with the truth of God’s Scripture yet conflict with your personal beliefs, I defer to His Word. It is the way, the truth, and the light, yet it was not always easy to understand. Thus, I read several Bible translations, researched multiple commentaries, and prayed constantly for understanding and divine intervention to guide my heart, my thoughts, and thus my hand. I endeavored to echo the messages and stories in God’s Holy Word as I put pen to paper. Therefore, I acknowledge credit to each translation I studied (KJV, NIV, NKJV, and NASB) as the origin for every word included in my rendering of biblical passages. The correlating biblical book and chapters which are the foundation of each meditation have been notated. Contained within the hardback copy are two yearly reading plans if you would like to match my 2016 New Year’s resolution. You will also find one of my poetic diversions that you can utilize in your yearly plan should you begin your daily Bible reading in a leap year. Since February holds 29 days every four years, the rhyming couplet format on my introductory poem, which you can use on that date, includes the addition of four extra syllables per line. The intent of this poem was to help me remember the 66 books of the Bible in the typical order as found in the translations mentioned above.
May your study of the greatest book ever written inspire you to live for Christ, lean on Him, and lead others to Him through your faithful example and witness. As I reflect on this labor of love the Lord helped me to produce, I remain convicted that there is only one God and the main messages of His Word are to love thy neighbor as thyself, believe on His Son who died to wash away sin and you will be saved, He is faithful to forgive when sin is confessed, and Christ who rose from the grave will return to judge the world and save the redeemed. May the lyrical illustrations of biblical reflections you find within my meditations enlighten, entertain, and encourage your journey through the entirety of Holy Scripture and enhance your journey of faith.