The Odd, Flawed and Awed

Inspired by “The Cremation of Sam McGee”
by Canadian poet Robert W. Service

If you hear from God, though the words sound odd,
__you must not ignore that voice.
That’s what Jonah did, when he went and hid,
__but he found he had no choice.
From inside a fish, Jonah said “My wish
__is to get back on God’s path.”
So, he set his sights on the Ninevites,
__and he saved them from God’s wrath.

Others from that day, didn’t run away,
__even though things made no sense.
Filled with fear and doubt, they all saw things out.
__Their achievements were immense.
Noah worked for years, and ignored the jeers,
__on a plan that seemed insane.
Noah built a boat that he hoped would float,
__and then waited for the rain.

Then God told his plan to a sonless man.
__Somehow Abraham believed.
Though well past his prime, God had set the time,
__that’s when Isaac was conceived.
And from that one man, that’s when things began,
__people countless as the sand.
And God never strayed from the pledge He made.
__He gave them the Promised Land.

Moses killed a man, so away he ran,
__fearing that his life was doomed.
Then he heard his name, from a bush aflame
__that was somehow not consumed.
When he went to see, “Set my people free,”
__is what he was told to do.
Quite reluctantly, Moses did agree,
__to attempt God’s strange rescue.

Armed with just a staff, he made Pharoah laugh,
__and just hardened Pharoah’s heart.
No one knew it yet, but the stage was set,
__the ten plagues were soon to start.
Lamb blood was the clue, to make sure God knew,
__who was cursed and who was saved.
At last Pharoah said, once his son was dead,
__“You can leave, you’re not enslaved.”

Then a teenage boy, armed with just a toy,
__carried out God’s crazy plan.
With no armor on, David marched upon,
__and then slew a giant man.
David thrilled the throngs and wrote many songs
__and became their second King.
God loved David’s heart and set him apart,
__despite one ill-fated fling.

Jesus calmed the wind, ate with those who sinned,
__and he even healed the blind.
He could raise the dead, but his family said
__that their brother had lost his mind.
And a Pharisee, full of jealousy
__said that Jesus was possessed.
They knew every rule but they couldn’t fool
__Him. He passed every test.

Jesus picked his team, but ignored the cream,
__they were not what you’d expect.
Peter cussed and cursed, might have been the worst,
__if you counted each defect.
With no self-control and a selfish goal,
__to lead Jesus’ earthly flock.
Peter used his sword, then betrayed his Lord
__before he became the Rock.

Before Saul was Paul, before Jesus’ call,
__he harassed those in the Church.
One day as he rode the Damascus road,
__Jesus knocked him from his perch.
Bright light made him blind, then he went to find
__just the man to help him see.
He became the best, once he had been blessed.
__No one preached as fearlessly.

When aligned with God, they will call you odd
__so get ready for the storm.
Prophets were ignored, or else killed by sword,
__they were too strong to conform.
Do not love this world, or you will be hurled,
__where they gnash their teeth and moan.
Though you’ll be alone, put atop your throne,
__the rejected cornerstone.

If you are not flawed, you’re no use to God.
__Jesus shunned the Pharisees.
They knew every law, but they had one flaw,
__they would not get on their knees.
God knew deep inside, they were filled with pride.
__On their way to the abyss.
They could never learn human means can’t earn
__entrance into Holy bliss.

If you are not awed, then you don’t know God.
__His design is everywhere.
He spoke with a bang, from which matter sprang,
__finished with an artist’s flair.
The best thing of all, if you heed His call,
__despite His enormity,
He redeems the worst, when they should be cursed,
__He’s in love with you and me.



Spitting Image

If you’re called a spitting image
__of a parent, it’s apparent
that parental DNA merged
__in a process that’s transparent.
So, their chromosomes and genomes,
__through the science of genetics,
are now in your DNA and
__gave you Mom and Dad’s aesthetics.

The resemblance will go deeper
__than just physical appearance.
Your two parents etch their ethos
__by persistent perseverance.
You’ll absorb their style and habits
__that are idiosyncratic.
Like the way they walk, their stories,
__even being so dramatic.

So, a son next to his father
__or a daughter by her mother
makes it obvious these children
__couldn’t have come from any other.
But the thing that really tells us
__just how closely they’re related
is the way you see them acting
__toward the lowest and the hated.

How we look is not important.
__All that matters is behavior.
Would a person watching us think
__we’re related to the Savior?
We’re made in God’s spitting image
__but no one would ever know it.
Read His Word and learn His habits,
__and then go out there and show it.



Warren Bonham is a private equity investor who lives in Southlake, Texas 

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7 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Warren, both of your poems resonate with me. “The Awed, Flawed and Odd” is an amazing masterpiece with beautiful inward rhymes that turn it into a song. Even more than that is the messages it provides from biblical sources that are beautifully depicted in bright images that are directly absorbed by the soul. “Spitting Image” is a perfect portrayal of familial semblances, gestures, traditions, and character development with DNA as a background second mover, but then recognizing that God was the first mover and made us in his image and we should try more to be like Him is an important distinction. Your wonderful use of words enhances the experience of this classic poem.

  2. Norma Pain

    I enjoyed your poetry Warren. Robert Service is one of my favorite poets and I learned a lot about rhyme and meter by reading his work. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wayne

    a friend replied to my posting your poem

    9:19 AM (1 hour ago)
    to me

    Great great poem with a wonderul message. However, we’ll only truly understand Jonah’s story if we listen carefully to its final two verses.

    Jonah actually got mad when the city repented en masse and was not destroyed. Of course, that really bothered God.

    Jonah wanted justice, judgment, and condemnation. He wanted Nineveh to suffer for their sins. He believed Nineveh is so wicked and evil that they should not be spared for any reason, and he wanted Nineveh to be dealt with according to their wickedness.

    And yet, this only reveals the self-righteous attitude of Jonah. He believes himself to be worthy of God’s love and mercy. I think sometimes we feel the same way Jonah did. However, if he actually believed that he is the sinner that he is (after all he admitted to disobeying God’s command), he wouldn’t have gotten so angry at God for showing mercy to Nineveh.

    If God dealt with Jonah and Nineveh with the same measure of justice and judgment, they both would be toast, ans so would we. Jonah closed his eyes to this and became unmerciful toward Nineveh.

    Thankfully, the Lord is a God full of grace and mercy. He desires not the death of a sinner. Rather, He sent His own Son to share in humanity, die for the sins of the world, and give sinners new life in Himself…..and praise God for that.

    • Warren Bonham

      Jonah was definitely more complex than the Sunday school version. Thanks for passing that along

  4. David Whippman

    Uplifting poems, skilfully written, that manage to be serious yet with a strong seam of humour.


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