The Cross, by William Sheppard

God laid upon my back a grievous load,
A heavy cross to bear along the road;
I staggered on, till lo! One weary day,
An angry lion leaped across my way.
I prayed to God, and swift at His command
The cross became a weapon in my hand;
It slew my raging enemy, and then
It leaped upon my back a cross again!
I faltered many a league, until at length,
Groaning, I fell and found no further strength.
I cried, “O God! I am so weak and lame,”
And swift the cross a winged staff became.
It swept me on until I retrieved my loss,
Then leaped upon my back again a cross.
I reached a desert; on its burning track
I still perceived the cross upon my back.
No shade was there, and in the burning sun
I sank me down and thought my day was done;
But God’s grace works many a sweet surprise.
The cross became a tree before mine eyes.
I slept, awoke, and had the strength of ten,
Then felt the cross upon my back again.
And thus through all my days, from that to this,
The cross, my burden, has become my bliss;
Nor shall I ever lay my burden down,
For God shall one day make my cross a crown.

William Henry Shepperd was a black Southern Presbyterian missionary to the Congo in the early 19th century. You read that right, a black Southern Presbyterian in the Jim Crow era. I just started a book about him entitled Black Livingstone; it looks fascinating. Hopefully I’ll be able to pass on more information in the future. Thanks, Sean Lucas, for the recommendation.

SDG,
Ezra

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Larry Walker on May 17, 2010 at 8:32 am

    A new post, and worth waiting for!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Katy Brink on May 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Beautiful.
    Hope y’all had a great weekend with your mom. I bet things are in full swing with Strawberry Festival preparations! We so enjoyed being with y’all last weekend. I hope no one in your fam got sick this past week; we had some sickness but are so glad it happened AFTER our visit!

    Reply

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