My Debt to God
by Steven R. Hemler
While I was in high school, I received the following poem in a mailing from a Roman Catholic religious order that was encouraging vocations to the priesthood. This poem meant a lot to me then, and means a lot to me now. Even though I never became a priest, this poem reflects the motivation for how I, as a layperson, have tried to live my life since high school.
I am forever indebted to God for rescuing me from the depths of adolescent despair and loneliness, by providing the unusual opportunity for me to be able to join with other young Christians at weekly "prayer-and-share" meetings in the homes of two caring families for over three years. The friends, fun, faith, and personal and spiritual growth that came from attending these faith sharing meetings were a true blessing in my life during high school.
The following anonymously-written poem expresses how, with the deepest gratitude, I have continually tried to repay my profound debt to God for the deep change He brought to my life at that time. I hope this poem is read at my funeral, as a fitting testimony of how I have tried to live my life, with God's help, as best I could.
Debt to God
I'd like to think when life is done
That I had filled a needed post
That here and there I'd paid my fare
With more than idle talk and boast,
That I had taken gifts divine
The breath of life and manhood fine
And tried to use them now and then
In service for my fellow man.
I'd hate to think when life is through
That I had lived my round of years
A useless kind that leaves behind
No record in this vale of tears,
That I had wasted all my days
By treading only selfish ways
And that this world would be the same
If it had never known my name.
I'd like to think that here and there
When I am gone, there shall remain
A brighter spot that might have not
Existed had I toiled for gain.
That someone's better life and smile
Shall prove my life had been worthwhile,
That I had paid with work divine
My debt to God for life so fine.
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Copyright © Steve Hemler. Steve Hemler has been involved in youth ministry, pro-life political activism and religious education. His articles have been published in America, Liguorian, Church, Modern Liturgy, Religion Teacher's Journal, Liturgical Catechesis, and National Review.