In my primal times of ego,
In my dawning days of childhood,
In my first-remembered moments,
In my spawning hours of fear;
I remember hearing echoes
As if spoken by the angels;
I remember that a Whisper
Seemed to always linger near.
As I slipped away from childhood,
As I passed through adolescence,
As I moved into young manhood,
As I reached maturity;
I still heard the far-off echoes,
I still heard angelic voices,
I still heard The Mystic Whisper
Speaking softly unto me.
As I stood upon the threshold
Of my near and unknown future,
As I mused and meditated
As to what my life should be;
Once again I heard the echoes,
Once again I heard the angels,
Once again I heard The Whisper
Speaking gently unto me.
Not an audible commandment,
Not an arbitrary order,
Not an autocratic dictum;
But a call, distinct and free.
Soft as raindrops on a window,
Pure as dewdrops on a rosebud,
Certain as the truths of scripture,
Came The Whisper unto me.
And The Whisper softly whispered;
“If you’d find my will and pleasure,
You must stand before the people
With the Bible in your hand.”
With amazement and confusion,
With slight knowledge of God’s kingdom,
Without pause or hesitation;
In that hour, I took my stand.
When I saw her in the choir loft,
With her beige hat and brown ribbon,
With her smile and shining blue eyes,
I was zapped as ne’er before.
My heart somersaulted, flip-flopped,
Palpitated and gyrated,
And I heard The Whisper whisper:
“You have found her, search no more.”
Latent in that first encounter
Were our wedding, home and children;
Plus a lifetime spent together
Touched by changing time and tide.
In my hours of Styx-like darkness,
She has been my stay and anchor
As we listened for The Whisper
Always standing side by side.
And again The Whisper whispered
That our firstborn would soon join us,
And in God’s own chosen moment
Our son came from heav’n to earth.
O the joy with which we waited!
O the marvel and the wonder!
O the sense of our fulfillment
In the hour of our son’s birth!
Then once more The Whisper whispered
That another child was coming.
And she came, just as He promised,
Down to earth from heaven’s door.
Never was a child more welcome,
Never was a child more faithful,
Never was a child more loving,
Never was a child loved more.
As the years turned into decades,
In my most-momentous moments,
In my times of hard decisions,
I so often knelt alone.
And I listened for the echoes,
And I listened for the angels,
And I listened for The Whisper
To resound and lead me on.
Through the years, The Whisper whispered:
“Always shun the complicated,
Seek the simple things around you,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”
“Do not covet, do not envy,
Take the time to sort and measure,
Take it easy, keep it simple,
Trust more than you understand.”
In resistance to The Whisper
I have crossed some roiling valleys,
I have climbed some rugged mountains,
And I’ve borne some heavy loads.
I have threaded tangled forests,
I have treaded barren deserts,
I have taken wrong directions
And I’ve walked down crooked roads.
I have grappled with the twilight,
I have struggled with the shadows;
I have sorrowed and I’ve suffered
In some dark and dank abodes.
I’ve meandered in the darkness,
I have hungered for the morning;
I’ve rebelled with deep aversions
And I’ve kicked against the goads.
I have grumbled and I’ve ranted,
I have rumbled and I’ve panted;
I have stumbled and I’ve fallen
Into cave and lair and den.
I have flailed and I have floundered,
I have failed and I have foundered,
I’ve grown lonely for The Whisper
And I’ve gone back home again.
I’ve pursued the fleeting phantoms
Of success and fame and fortune;
I have courted ease and pleasure,
And they’ve all eluded me.
I’ve felt grief and shame and horror,
I’ve felt penitence and sorrow,
And I’ve turned back to The Whisper;
Back to peace and sanity.
I have scorned all pious clichés,
I have shunned extreme positions,
I have traveled in the center
Of the path that leads us home.
I have spoken simple language,
I have magnified His message,
And I’ve heard The Whisper whisper;
“Whosoever will may come.”
I have sought the place of stillness,
I have searched for times of silence,
I have wrestled with The Whisper;
We have jousted, hand to hand.
Those who do not share such longings,
Those who do not seek such blessing,
Those who do not know and love me
Cannot hope to understand.
I have raised my voice in singing,
I have raised my mind in praising,
I have raised my heart in blessing,
And I’ve raised my soul in prayer.
I have sung His lovingkindness,
I have praised His tender mercies;
Blessed The Whisper for His promise
That I’ll meet Him in the air.
In the schoolroom of The Whisper
I have sat before great teachers,
And I’ve learned some basic lessons
That all pilgrims need to know:
Sleeping dogs should be left lying,
Hornet’s nests should not be stirred up,
Beaten ruts should be avoided;
Tender things be helped to grow.
In obeisance to The Whisper
I have passed through peaceful pathways,
I have drunk from God-touched fountains,
And I’ve rested in the sun.
I have slept in tranquil arbors,
I have bathed in virgin rivers,
I have browsed in verdant meadows,
And rejoiced in triumphs won.
I have gleaned in fruitful vineyards,
I have gathered golden harvests,
I’ve uncovered buried treasures
And I’ve laughed in sun and rain.
I’ve been loved by countless dear ones,
I’ve been blessed by faithful comrades,
And with joy and verve and gladness
I would do it all again!
If you ask me for a statement
Or a simple definition
As to what I deem important
I would quickly say, forsooth:
First The Whisper and my loved ones,
And my friends and close companions,
And the hurting hearts of others
And the ceaseless search for truth.
When life’s shadows gently lengthen
I will point my prow toward heaven,
With my compass calibrated
On “The bright and morning star.”
Then I’ll bid my final farewell
To dear ones and fellow pilgrims,
And I’ll sail on tranquil waters
Out beyond the ocean’s bar.
When I’m “Gathered to my people,”
As was Miriam from Kadesh,
As was Moses from Mount Nebo,
As was Aaron from Mount Hor;
I will lift my earthly anchor,
I will hoist my final mains’l,
And I’ll “Sail beyond the sunset
And the baths of all the stars.”
When I breathe my final blessing,
When I sing my final medley,
When my voice is still and silent,
When my evening star is dim;
When I hear my final summons,
When I drop my final traces,
I will fold my tent and vanish
And I’ll fly away to Him.
When I cross the shadowed valley,
When I near the sunset mountains,
When I face the unbridged river,
May my faith be firm and clear.
May there be no hesitation
When I hear The Whisper’s whisper
Calling me to life eternal;
May there be no doubt or fear.
When I span the stormy Jordan,
When I hear the sound of trumpets,
When I hear the harps of angels,
When the gates swing open wide;
When I reach my journey’s ending,
In that city built of jasper,
I shall join the fam’ly circle
Over on the other side.
When my barque is safely havened
In the land of God’s tomorrow,
When I drop eternal anchor
In the silver shining sea;
I’ll be welcomed by the angels
And the Savior and The Whisper,
And I’ll sing with choirs in heaven
In celestial harmony.
When I claim my reservation
In the mansion Christ has promised
Over in the land of glory,
I’ll discard mortality.
When God’s final revelation
Is unveiled for my observance,
And I’m numbered by the Shepherd,
I’ll put on eternity.
As they witness my departure,
Those I love and leave behind me
Will be touched by grief and sorrow,
And shall murmur: “There he goes.”
Over on the other shoreline,
Those who watch for my arrival
Will rejoice with joy eternal,
And shall whisper: “Here he comes.”
In the home of shining angels,
In the realm of golden glory,
In the land of “sweet forevers,”
With all loved ones gone before;
I shall hear the children singing,
I shall hear God’s praises ringing,
And I’ll hear The Whisper whisper:
“Welcome home forevermore.”
Hal Upchurch, 1995