Roses Are Red

By Tim Sherwood

Roses are red, violets are blue
I like poems, and so do you.

Well that one isn’t very good, is it?  This weekend during our weekend services, you heard a poem by Reverend Samuel Shoemaker called So I Stay The Near Door. When I heard this poem for the first time, it immediately pulled at my heart strings.

Reading about the author, I learned Shoemaker was a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Knowing that fact brings new meaning to the poem, doesn’t it? Knowing this poem was written with broken and lost people in mind whom the author met with on a regular basis to bring the message of salvation and hope.

Pastor John says we are a church with a great big front door, a door where it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve been or what you’ve done. A door that welcomes you to come and experience the love and compassion of the Creator of the Universe with others who are in the same place as you -- broken and in need of a Savior. People who have for too long been trying to fill that God-sized hole in their hearts with other things that simply do not compare to the love of the Father. We cannot all stay inside the door, can we? We must step outside and towards the mess.

The balance that the author writes about is a truly beautiful, sacrificial thing. Going inside, having community with believers, worshipping and locking eyes with the One who has chosen us long before we ever knew Him.  We have to come inside to get filled up and find support for ourselves, so we can go out and be Jesus with skin on to others and help them put their hands on the latch and walk through the door.

So I Stay Near The Door

“I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world—
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men.
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it . . .
So I stay near the door.

“The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door—the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch—the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.
Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter—
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it—live because they have found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him . . .
So I stay near the door.

“Go in, great saints, go all the way in—
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics—
In a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms,
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture a little farther;
But my place seems closer to the opening . . .
So I stay near the door.

“The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving—preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them, too,
I stay near the door.

“I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long,
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door—
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But—more important for me—
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch,
So I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it. 
‘I had rather be a door-keeper . . .’
So I stay near the door.”

-Reverend Samuel Shoemaker


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