In God’s Masterpiece, Every Word/Life Counts, Your Life Counts

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10

Paul says we are God’s “masterpiece.” The Greek there is poema from which we get the word poem. We are God’s poem.

Consider the famous poem, Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

The idea in this poem is not profound. It paints the anxiety of our finitude: our desire to experience everything but the impossibility of it, and the second-guessing whirpool that can drown us. Now, all of that could be said in a prose, as I just did. So why write it in a poem?

The power of a poem is not the idea but how it creates an experience of the idea. A major part of that experience is aural pleasure, the pleasure of sounds of the words resonating with each other. Every word in themselves are prosaic. But when they are put together, in a certain order, they create a music that rises above merely the meanings of the word. In this way, every word, even the smallest, let’s say a preposition that doesn’t carry much meaning on its own, becomes structurally crucial. No word in a masterpiece poem can be removed or exchanged.

What if the word “sorry” (in the second line) was replaced with “felt bad.” Try reading it that way.

And felt bad I could not travel both

The whole poem screeches. It would no longer be a line worth pasting onto pictures of forest paths.

The reason the word “sorry” works is because of its internal rhyme with “both” at the end of the sentence, and the consonance with the word that ends the following line, “stood.” That consonance creates a subtle intimacy between the two lines, between the action of being “sorry” and “standing.” The action and the emotion’s internal connection, standing because one is feeling sorry, is hinted.

Robert Frost, chose the word “sorry” because in his poem, it was the only word.

God is poet laureate. Everyone of us has a word to say with our lives. On its own, our word might be as prosaic as the word “sorry,” a word used so frequently it is often bland. But when God places us into His masterpiece, it is a word, a life, that is irreplaceable.

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