Good News

Can I Believe in the Bible and Reincarnation?


Hebrews 9:27 reads, “And just as it is appointed for people to die once-and after this judgement…” Psalm 78:39 reads, “He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” Hebrews 9:27 uses the word “people” which doesn’t specify the whole person  (body, mind, & soul). “People” could be referring to just the physical body. What about the spiritual or mental part of us? I wonder if we have souls that have existed long before we were born into our current physical bodies. Souls that have been reincarnated over eons. I also wonder if our karma from other lives carry over to our present life, which is the only thing that makes sense to me in regards to why some people are born in such terrible circumstances and others not.

I still believe in Jesus and salvation. But it seems to me that a just and loving God would give us more than one short lifetime to get it right. What about all those people who suffered from terrible trauma and mental illness and then completed suicide? What happens to them? What about all the Biblical characters in the Old Testament times that died? Do they all go to hell (Abraham, Jacob, Solomon, Job, David…)? I have so many questions. It just doesn’t make sense. Could you please help me unravel this mystery? This belief that I have in reincarnation is something I just can’t seem to let go of. 


Before I dig into this topic, it should be said, that I cannot convince you in my own power of the finality of Judgement at death. Jesus himself said in John 16, “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me, 10 and concerning righteousness, because I am going away to the Father and you will see me no more, 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” (LEB) So the only way you will be persuaded of the truth, no matter how much Bible teaching you get is if the Holy Spirit, our Advocate or Counselor or Comforter, teaches you. The promise of the finality of judgement is indeed a comfort and encouragement to all who are looking to Jesus, but a terror to all who reject the Lord.

Reincarnation is at the heart of Hindu and some Buddhist belief & practice as is karma. According to this doctrine, it is best to leave people to their karma and to allow people to suffer for their past sins, lest you delay their rescue from the endless cycle of rebirths or postpone their merging with nirvana (literally: nothingness). Indeed, many worldly religions believe a kind of reincarnation or second chance theology. For example, Catholicism absorbed this mindset in terms of purgatory and being purified after death … which thus allows sinners to hold onto their sins in this life. The Bible teaching is rather that this world is as close to hell as the righteous will get and as close to heaven as the wicked will get.

Before looking at the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection, it would be good to see what the Hebrew Scriptures taught about existence of humans after one passes from this life. In Genesis, we read a number of times the phrase, “gathered to his people” “Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 25:8 NIV; see also 25:17; 35:29; 49:33; Numbers 20:24, 26; Deuteronomy 35:50).  Perhaps from some perspectives, this could potentially mean that those who died were simply gathered physically and buried with their ancestors. But looking at the death of Aaron in Numbers and Moses in Deuteronomy, it becomes clear that this was not at all what was intended, because both Aaron and Moses died outside of the land of promise and could not have been buried in the ancestral tomb at Hebron. Indeed, nobody knows the exact burial spot of Moses.

Rather, to have been “gathered to his people” means that the saints of the pre-resurrection times were gathered to wait until Jesus and His resurrection, indeed to wait for the resurrection of all the saints. In Matthew 27:51-53 we read, “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” These saints that were raised were a foreshadowing of the future resurrection. Apparently these saints were those who were faithful to the Lord unto death and were counted worthy to represent the greater number who will ultimately be raised on the last day. Wouldn’t it have been memorable to see all these saints raised and walking around town testifying of the glories of God’s presence and the call to holiness!!

Another reference to what happens to Old Covenant saints, indeed to all who have left this earth is in Hebrews 11:39-40, “And all these [referring to a long litany of godly people from the Hebrew Scriptures], having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (NIV) What is the promise spoken of in Hebrews? Precisely the resurrection. The goal is that after we die, we will be raised to meet Jesus and be perfected as we behold Jesus face to face for all eternity, whole and complete, lacking nothing, body-soul-spirit … a renewed body! Hallelujah!! The perfection will not fully come -until- it happens for all who believe.

This future perfection of our lives is referred to in Revelation 20:4-6 as “The first resurrection” or the resurrection of the righteous, the reward of trusting Jesus for life. “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (NIV) Notice, the Bible no where in any legitimate translation ever uses the term reincarnation, but resurrection.

Resurrection means Raised Up to Stand Again. Reincarnation means Put Back in the Flesh Again. Why would anyone want to be put back in the “flesh”? The Word of God teaches that “in the flesh dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18). The flesh is the meeting ground of sin and satan and selfishness in this world. As long as we are alive in the world, before the final resurrection, something of the flesh is still with us. Only after we have suffered faithfully and died at long last are we promised hope. Some people are Resuscitated, that is they medically/physically die but are revived. This will give them an opportunity to repent and to trust Christ. Medical doctors have documented that often those who are resuscitated tell of encountering scary, hellish things if asked shortly after they are resuscitated. Studies have found that a rosey, heavenly picture deceptively takes this place years later … if they continue to live. Perhaps the terrors of hell are just too scary to live with … unless one repents and turns to Jesus.

Indeed, Jesus told an account, (not described as a parable, but perhaps told as a historical fact of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 in the NIV.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

As an aside, there are reasons to suspect that this may have been referring to Isaac and Eliezer: Abraham calls the rich man “Child,” and he calls Abraham “Father.” Looking at Isaac’s life in Genesis 26:13, we find that he was very wealthy. God is referred to as the “Fear of Isaac.” Lazarus is Aramaic for the Hebrew Eliezer. Not the God of Isaac. Just some thoughts. It isn’t conclusive since Genesis 35:29 says Isaac was gathered to his people. At the least, this rich man was a wealthy heir of Isaac, but clearly he valued riches over God’s grace and generosity.

Pertinent to what you had asked about, notice that:

  1. There is a gulf fixed between the rich man and Abraham & the righteous poor after death. Nothing will repair the gap between the rich and the poor after death, and it looks like this world’s blessings will be reversed in the resurrection, but there are no second chances.
  2. The whole chapter is a contrast between serving God and serving wealth. This is a caution to all of us to not seek to merely be rich in material wealth, but to be generous to others … in this life.
  3. People are exhorted to pay attention to the Bible (i.e. Moses & the Prophets. From Romans 1:18-23 we know that we are also called to learn from the wisdom revealed in creation and not to make images to worship.)
  4. The rich man wanted living people (his brothers, fellow Jews) warned lest they go to the place of destruction. It sounds like they had one chance to turn to the Lord before they perished in a very hot place. It really sounds like the message is “Turn or Burn.”

It would be good to read Hebrews 9:27 in context:

24 For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf, 25 and not in order that he can offer himself many times, as the high priest enters into the sanctuary year by year with blood not his own, 26 since it would have been necessary for him to suffer many times from the foundation of the world, but now he has appeared once at the end of the ages for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this, judgment, 28 thus also Christ, having been offered once in order to bear the sins of many, will appear for the second time without reference to sin to those who eagerly await him for salvation. (LEX)

They whole tenor of this passage is: You only live once … and then you are judged. Jesus only died and rose once to justify all who turn to Him and will save all who are waiting for -Him- until the end. Notice, He does not save those who are waiting for a second chance. Rather, “Today is the day of salvation.” Believe and repent today.

In Daniel 12, the Lord revealed, “But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (NIV) Currently world travel and knowledge are increasing exponentially. The time of the end is drawing nigh. There are two alternatives: an honorable eternity or a shameful eternity. Wise light in the Lord or dark ignorance in sin. Either option is everlasting & eternal, for ever and ever. We have only this life to choose which direction we will go.

I will address the topic of suicide and suffering at greater length in other essays. For now, I will simply note that about Judas, the one person who completed suicide who had known Jesus and spent much time with him and who was a close companion of Jesus , Jesus Himself said, “It would have been better for him if he had never been born.” How can that be possible, unless he went to a place far worse than anything this life has to offer? Unless Judas (and all self-murderers, life-rejecters?) are judged for their final sin, it would seem that the call to forgive others and choose life is meaningless. God does not force people to be saved against our will, but only saves us through our will and desire for salvation, by grace we are saved through faithful cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

As to those who suffer from childhood, it is unwise to pity others … except to tangibly do what you can to relieve that suffering and offer hope. It seems like a futile effort to offer people hope of a reincarnation when there is no clue what they would be reincarnated as? After all, if reincarnation is where souls come from, why has there been for the past 500 years an exponentially increasing number of people on the earth so that now there are over 8 billion souls on the planet? I don’t think reincarnation can account for these souls as well as the creative work of a Loving God.

You mentioned Psalm 78:38-39, “Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” It should be noted simply that the word translated wind can mean, “breath, breeze, wind, … or spirit.” The Hebrew Scriptures are clearly here teaching that the human spirit dies once and that atonement must be made before one dies. You will notice though that before the Psalm says that humans will perish like the wind/spirit that does not return, it is pretty clear that God is incredibly patient and doesn’t destroy us immediately after our sin. He seeks to atone for our sin and reconcile us often and early.

So then, what does this mean? What should we do in light of this truth?

  1. Trust Messiah Jesus and turn from your sin & unbelief and be saved.
  2. Continue in holiness, live and abide in Christ. Don’t go back to the old way.
  3. Tell others about the call to repent and about the devastating nature of sin, the righteousness of Christ, and the judgement that is coming on this world, the flesh, & the devil while there is still time. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing: trying to persuade others of the gospel—and so we should too.
  4. We should do all we can to show mercy as we engage in mission: helping people in practical ways and not just preaching to them. If we share the eternal, spiritual gospel, is it too much to offer them a simple meal or a listening ear or a kind touch or help with their physical needs as well? The rich man perished without ever helping Lazarus. Let us not leave needs unmet when we have it within our ability to do something to remediate the evils of this world.

© Mert Hershberger, P.O. Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198

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Dawn of Eternal Life: Eclipsed by Sin, Glimpsed by Faith

The Dawn of Eternal Life: Eclipsed by Sin, Glimpsed by Faith

A. The Scene is Set with Two Trees:

              Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 – A garden with two trees in the center.

  1. To Know Good and Evil was a metaphor for: autonomy, the ability to choose for oneself. Neither the very old nor the very young “know good and evil.”

       Deuteronomy 1:39 – Warnings for rebels. 

       2 Samuel 19:35 – An elderly man declines favors.

       Isaiah 7:14-16 – A prophecy of a child.

       Isaiah 41:22-23  – Humans cannot do what God can do.

       Jeremiah 4:22 – Fools know evil but are ignorant of good.

       Romans 16:19 – Obedience is cultivated by ignoring evil and knowing good.

  • Tree of Life became a metaphor for: Wisdom, fruit of righteous, soul winning, hope fulfilled, good words, victory, central, continual life, healing, reward for faithful obedience.

     Proverbs 3:13, 18 – Wisdom

     Proverbs 11:30 – Fruit of the righteous, winning souls.

     Proverbs 13:12 – Desire fulfilled

     Proverbs 15:4 – Wholesome tongue                     

     Revelation 2:7 – Given to the victor in the Paradise of God.

     Revelation 22:2 – Central, continual, healing life.

     Revelation 22:14 – Reward for obedience.

Will we try to choose our own way or let God choose the Way for us?

B. Consequences of disobedience: Genesis 3 – After Adam & Eve ate from the wrong tree, they experienced:

  1. Sin resulted in suffering.

a. Guilt: open eyes v. 7

b. Shame: nakedness known v. 7

c. Fear: hiding from God v. 8

2. Sin resulted in broken relationships.

a. With God. Hiding from God. v. 8

b. With one another. Blaming one another. Vv. 12-13, 16

c. With creation. Thorns & thistles. V. 18

3. Sin resulted in death.

                            a. Work to death. V. 19

                             b. Separated from the way to life. vv. 22-23

How much have you suffered already for your sin and the sins of others? Do you want that to continue?

C. Promises of Life: Evil would be defeated by good through faith.

  1. Life beyond death came through a promise: Genesis 3:15 – The curse of the serpent meant blessing for us. Jesus’ death ensured eternal life. Christ was hung on a tree so that he might take the curses from the cursed tree and bring us life and liberty and happiness. He rose to defeat death in full.

2. Evil can be rejected: Psalm 1:1 – Meditation on God’s Word results in faithful life. Ungodliness results in death. Choose well.

3. Goodness can be enjoyed: Psalm 38:4 – Taste & see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (NKJV)

What will you pursue: all that is good and godly OR all that is evil & perverse?

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We Must Tell The Gospel

This morning I woke up after dreaming of a missionary carrying the gospel to tribes in distant nations (namely Roger Doriot). As he was heading to the states, there was a song that an angelic choir was singing and I started to join in the song as well. When i woke, I jotted down a few lines that I hope will encourage you. If you can find a tune to sing this to, please do so!

We Must Tell the Gospel

From ancient times and from years now of old,
The message was spread by those who were bold.
We heard it and learned it and then we believed.
We’ll share and declare all the truth we’ve received.

Past mountains, by foot, and by bus and by plane,
It’s our job to tell it and make the truth plain:
Refueling our hearts on all the Word’s Truth,
Translating, relating—our lives were once mute.

We dare not be silent or hush up the Word;
We’ll spread Good News Broadly till all folks have heard.
Though we’re not the answer, we’ll answer the call:
We’re telling the nations that Christ gave His all.

We put forth the effort in good times and bad,
Through lives and our deaths, in the end we’ll be glad.
The nations shall come to the Light of the Lord;
The Spirit ensuring the Father’s adored.

You mothers must raise up your children to serve.
You scholars confessing God’s grace undeserved.
You churches must send forth the brightest and best.
You workers enduring and passing the test.

No culture exempt from the judgments of God.
No tongue shall be silent, we’ll till up the sod.
“To God be the glory, great things He has done!”
Which we shall announce till the vict’ry is won!

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Seasonal Greetings from on High

A raindrop from the household eaves
now falls upon and glistens lips
and then the fallen raindrop leaves
as it goes on its way and drips.

Bright summer sun shines down: it sends
the morning shadows far away
yet draws out lonely, home-bound friends
and turns the dark of night to day.

The earth is filled with rainbow shards:
the autumn leaves have left the trees,
fell down to color children’s yards.
If set aflame at night, they’d see.

A snow flake comes into my hand;
It’s carried by the winter wind.
I do not fully understand
how snowflake met its brutal end.

Creator comes to earth;
as sinful nations eyed
the One with virgin birth,
fulfilled His pledge: He died,
yet rose, as preachers cried–
revealing God’s own worth.

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Moment by Moment

Moment by moment I live by Your mercy.
Moment by moment, by what I have heard.
Moment by moment I live by Your grace.
I live by Your spoken Word.

I wait for You every dim evening
I wait for You all the night long.
I wait for You early each morning
I wait each day with a song!

Moment by moment I live by Your Truth.
Moment by moment I will understand.
Moment by moment I live by Your love,
Live by Your upholding hand.

Moment by moment I live by Your life.
Moment by moment I live by Your bread.
Moment by moment I live by Your blood.
By Jesus our risen Head.

Moment by moment I face You as Judge.
Moment by moment I live in Your court.
Moment by moment I face You as King.
Walk with You, Sovereign Lord.

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Redeeming Clothes: Putting off Sin; Putting on Christ

It is no exaggeration to say that one can trace the whole outline of Biblical theology and salvation history through the motif of clothing. — “Garments,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove: IVP, 1998, p 318.

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More Than Dreams

The Video series More than Dreams describes the lives of several people who dreamed dreams that evidently came from the Creator and altered their lives. If you wish to learn how God speaks to people today, visit the sight and watch as 5 people have their lives transformed by Truth.

Some years ago, I also had a dream that altered my life permanently. I suppose some would attend to my description of seeing Jesus risen from the grave and take this as evidence, but I prefer to boast of how the vision of the Lord who Loves has changed my life.

There have been days when I have been kicked and spat at. Still, I chose to love those who would want to be my enemies.

There have been days when I had no money and needed money for rent. Still, I chose to thank God for His provision.

There have been days when I was sick and alone in the hospital, despised and rejected. Still, I chose to encourage my neighbor because I had hope in the one who raises the dead.

There have been days when I was accused of violating social norms. Still, I chose to share the word of Christ and live in light of eternity, rather than just live for today.

There have been days when I labored all day and did not receive any short term gain. Still, I looked to the Lord of Heaven and He rewarded me and provided for my daily bread.

There have been days I have had to go hungry for long periods and days when I have politely eaten more than enough. Still, I have learned to be content in the Messiah as my meat and my mind's fullness.

There have been days when no one wanted to talk to me. Still, I listened to the hurting and crying and cried out to God on behalf of the nations.

There have been days when I could not get out of bed or have been run through extreme tests in the labs. Still, I remember my brothers and sisters who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

There have been days when I wondered when my hopes and goals would be fulfilled. Still, I labored on and journeyed on towards my goal.

How are we able to persevere despite much difficulty and opposition and labor?
Only by grace.

Grace is essentially the presence of Jesus in our lives. He never leaves us and never forsakes us and never abandons us. Jesus walks with us to the end; by faith we walk with Him if we keep in step with the Spirit.

Perhaps my favorite verse in all the Bible that sustains me in hard times is that Grace is enough for you for power is perfected in weakness.

Yes, I have had visions. I have seen mighty and powerful answers to prayer that shook the heavens. I have seen provision come in amazing ways. I have talked to many people and traveled to places that are only dots on the map to most people. But it is grace, God's rich grace, that sustains me.

The Lord continually nourishes me with His Word. Do you have this assurance that speaks to you in the watches of the night and in the heat of the day? Do you tune into the Truth 24/7 or do you tune into the world's channels? Do you listen to the voice of the Lord or are you distracted by the world's voices? Does the devil drive you like a goatherd or are you moved by the Spirit of the Living God?

"Jesus, speak to me today, tonight, tomorrow, and to eternity. Let me see Your glorious and gracious face that I might be changed to be more and more like you. You, Lord, are my friend. Since you are the Friend of Sinners, I must confess that I am a sinner. I trust that You not only died for my sins, but that You rose to grant me new life. You have seen my adultery, my hastiness, my wastefulness, my adulteries, my lies, my theft, my pride, and my impatience. I look to You, Lord Jesus to remove all those and grant me a perfect integrity that comes from You alone. Father in Heaven, we praise Your name for Your faithful mercy, which is renewed daily. In the name of the Prince of peace, Who is our Comfort and Who has sent us the Comforting Holy Spirit we pray. Amen."

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(Based on reflections on our inheritance in Christ which is mentioned in Paul’s letters and the gospels and my own yearning for “something more.”)

I long for an infinite treasure
I can’t even start to measure.
Something yet to dawn and come,
More sure than death has ever won
Against our mortal, human flesh.
Eternal life will never mesh
with gaining stuff when others lose.
I want to rest, but cannot snooze
when I worry about lost love.
My hands now shake, though I wear gloves,
And it is warm around about.
My heart’s soul cries, I want to shout:
with many friends, I remain alone.
So inwardly, I start to groan,
and I am burdened with heartfelt pain.
In my global quest, what have I gained?
“Lord, hear me as I sob and cry!
And if You answer, here am I.
Provide fresh joy and hope and grace
that I might know and see your face.”
God’s Comfort comes despite my self,
And thus I’ve found that treasured wealth.
A peace the world never knew
I have God’s Love: the Lord is True.
This Gift is not for only me:
God gives to all who ask, He’s Free!
I hope these words expand your view:
Christ Jesus came for me and you.

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Divided Loves: Marital Love

We must consider God: He was not bored

when He created Man and Adam’s wife;

The Maker made His image. In fair Eve,

our King’s intent: the gift of holy life.

The two He joins, our lives God gently weaves:

Our souls, His saints; Himself our Sovereign Lord.

Love intertwined: the Church and Jesus Christ.

His Word dives our soul from spirit. Sword

of God now making what went wrong alright

through perfect grace. He clothes with more than leaves

and what was torn, in Christ is now restored.

The pains of ancient times, our Lord relieves.

Our Father gives the Spirit as our Seal,

and thus our Husband Jesus truly heals.

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My Darkest Night: A Confession

My darkest night and day, inside was pain, my soul bound up in chains.

I looked confounded, looked uncertain, certainly looked confused.
I tried rejection, I tried inspection, and I tried just to refuse.
My soul was heavy, my mind a mess, my heart got torn in shreds.
I was left alone, adrift, and nearly left for dead.
This is what I almost, nearly, and completely would have done.

Looking out, looking up, looking all around.
Feeling lost, feeling forward, feeling like I might be found.
I hear a cry, I cry for help, I cannot help but cry.
I wonder how, I wonder where, I mostly wonder whom and why?
What could I, should I, would I do?

I look away, I look inside, yet I seem to only stare.
My hands hang limp, brain disconnected, yet I truly care.
I am not wise, I’m at a loss, I am not self-improved.
I want to hide, I want to run, yet inside I am moved.
What can I, shall I, will I do?

I look behind, I look within, and then look far beyond.
I have no power, no potion, and no magic wand.
A little truth, a little prayer, and lots of simple mercy:
For my family, for my friends, and for my foes quite early.
This is what I could have, should have, and will have done.

For, Yes! Redemption came, my mind was changed, and I rose up not the same.

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