Last semester, President Shoemaker stood behind the pulpit during chapel and delivered a challenge to all of us, not just to create competition-worthy pieces of art but also to spend time meditating on how the Bible affects our lives.
Many feverishly poured time and effort (and prayer) into the contest. Some molded clay into pots, others made ornate pictures using miniscule dots (talking to you, Dave Ham), and others penned poems or stories containing our testimonies. One Monday, we heard from nine contestants, and the next Monday we heard eleven more, as well as discovered who won the Scripture for Life contest.
Instead of selecting just one winner, or even just two, President Shoemaker generously awarded prizes to one student from each entry category. I feel his pain trying to judge between songs, music videos, animated infographics, poetry, and fine art pieces—it seems daunting. From almost 700 entries, President Shoemaker whittled it down to four well-deserving competitors, and we all clapped when he announced their names. We clapped not just because our chapel buddy was clapping. We clapped because we too have been touched by their stories of Christ working in their lives. We too could see Scripture in their lives, and that was the whole point of the chapel challenge.
I’m sharing the poem I wrote for the contest here, so don’t judge (especially you, Precious Antonio) because I’ve seen and heard powerful poems that seem infinitely more eloquent than my meager attempt at poetry. But I offer my humble thanks here to President Shoemaker who acknowledged every finalist with a prize, and to every contestant who shared their hearts with us.
Ever since I discovered Psalm 17:15 three years ago, I have considered it my favorite verse. I wrote this poem in reflection of exactly what this verse means to me in a special way. As much as I would love to imitate different members of my family, especially my mom and dad, I am daily reminded that to imitate God is the highest goal I could ever achieve. This poem is inspired by the words, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
To admire Mom’s finger with the simple wedding band
She donned at sixteen when
All they could afford was something small—
“But big enough for love”—she says.
To look at veins running in sturdy lines
Along the back of Dad’s brown hands.
Black grit etched firmly around each nail
Permanent from years of oil, ash, and grease.
To feel the pulse of sixteen hands
Linked in prayer around my faded kitchen table
Worn weary with elbows,
Sticky palms, and frequent rubbing.
Feeling the squeeze that means I love you.
Raising my eyes at every meal.
Finding myself wanting to be just like them—
Just like the owners of those loving hands.
How much sweeter then to raise my eyes from prayer
And consider the loving hands of God
So firmly gripping mine,
Finding myself yearning to be just like Him.
Knowing I’ll only be satisfied—
Only wholly satiated—
When I awake
With His likeness.