The Poem and its Poet


Poetry! How wonderful to be able to admire the inner intricacies of such delightful musings! How blessed are those who appreciate it!

Did you know that God is a poet? It's in His Word: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:10 NIV)

Uh… I don't see anything in that text that says God is a poet.

For that my friend, we need to go back to the original Greek text where poiéma is used for the English word referring to workmanship. From that same Greek word poiéma come the words "poet" and "poem".

This text uses poiéma to indicate the end product or that which is made. This means that God is the Poet, we are His poems. And each poem has a definite message of beauty. This is good news, friends! This clarifies our existence! If we are His poems, and each poem has a purpose, then each of us has a distinct purpose on Earth!

While attending university in Michigan, I was attracted to an English course entitled "Creative Writing". The course outline stated that we would be solely focusing on poetry and its techniques, with plenty of hands-on practice. Although I had failed High School English, God enabled me to be able to learn English several years later while attending seminary in France (See "Undeserved Success"), and because I believe that poetry can often be used to express one's inner soul, I couldn't wait to take this course.

So there I was, trying to enroll myself in the class. The teacher immediately fixated on my accent. He looked at me, shaking his head with his eyes rolling, obviously wondering why this lunatic was wasting his time. Then he flatly told me that I couldn't take the course.

"Why not?" I asked, shocked beyond belief. Wasn't America the Land of the Free?

"Because you'll never pass it," he stated simply.

How comforting.

"English poetry is very complex," he went on to explain. "A foreigner would never be able to grasp its simple nuances, or fully understand the techniques used in poetry, such as meters, onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, rhyming, simile and metaphor… How could a foreigner express feeling and emotion in English the way native speakers can? It's impossible. I'm sorry, but I can't accept you."

I was devastated. I immediately went to the head of the English department to find out what my options might be.

Looking me in the eye, he asked: "Do you really want to take this poetry class?"

"Yes," I replied. "I most certainly do! But if the answer is really 'no', I will understand."

He smiled and then he asked me to come back to see him the next day.

When the next day rolled around, I was totally unprepared for the surprise that awaited me: "I talked with the Creative Writing professor, and he has agreed to give you a chance. It will be hard, but with endurance and perseverance I know you will make it."

Had I heard him right? Had I really been accepted into a class where foreigners were not welcome? How was this possible?

God's grace had once more intervened, and in the end, with His help, I finished the course with a B+.

My love for poetry continued, and when I was asked to teach a middle school English class, I jumped at the opportunity to pass on some of what I had learned about this wonderful vehicle of written language. Some of my students looked at me as if I had just come in from Mars. They were wrong of course. I had just come in from Belgium. Didn't they know that? Otherwise, the class was a huge success, and soon most of my students had fallen in love with poetry writing.

Years later I received news from several of these students. They shared with me a similar story: When I introduced poetry to them, they hated me for it; but now they were glad they had learned it, for as a result, their writing technique had improved a hundredfold. In fact, some of those students had partaken in poetry competitions and had even won money. Poetry became a reality for them!

After my success with this class, I expected that other students would also welcome the opportunity to learn poetry. I was doomed to be met with frustration and disappointment. Most students just looked at me with bulging eyes and gaping mouths and blatantly accuse me of being a space alien. It saddened me to realize that few had the love of poetry, and most students couldn't wait to finish this strange unit once and for all. I have learned that not everybody can grasp the beauty of poetry. For the few who do however, they experience the soul of writing, and their experience changes for the better.

God's gospel message is often viewed as poetry. Many claim it is far fetched and alien, and many Christians are viewed as flamboyant lunatics and distorted heretics. But if time was given to explore the claims brought forth, one would discover a gold mine at the core of its existence.

It is true that some "believers" hinder others from having access to such Good News by discouraging those who don't fit their "criteria". But God is clear on that: "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." (John 3:16 The Message)

His message of grace is for everyone. Once we grasp His message and make it our own, we discover our true purpose in life. The poem finds its poet. When the poem realizes that its Creator willingly died for it to make its eternal existence possible, that its Creator rose to life three days later and promises to share this resurrection life with each of His poems, the poem is introduced to the purest love that can be found.

"I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power…" (Phil 3:10 The Message)

You have a purpose in life, my friend. Ask God what it is, and He will reveal it to you. Be aware however that those around you may label you as a lunatic. Don't worry about this. God's family is a place where lunatics are loved by God Himself!

Would you like to take a Creative Writing Class? I know a good one in Michigan!

Rob Chaffart

Mirrors! Horrors! ...

Children's curiosity!

Trinkets of the ego's entertainment,

Jewel of illogical ingeniosity,

Grasping air behind,

Without any attainment.

Mirrors! Terrors!...

Reflections of the idle!

Endless beauty springing out of thy youth.

Entertaining hours, admiring own idol,

Striving to perfection,

Unsatisfied restless wolf.

Impressions of elderly despair.

Wrinkles, aged anxiousness.

Helpless striving for air.

Vanity, petty human ambition,

Although... filled with restless emptiness.

Mirrors?...

Reply of civilized pretension.

(A sample of my youthful ravings)

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