Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” In John Donne’s sonnet, he implores the Lord to stop knocking, beat down the door and rescue him!
Holy Sonnet 14
Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
I have felt like this; have you? Wanting to surrender but lacking the moral fortitude to open the door, to let the truth shine into our dark corners and let Jesus clean house. Wanting deliverance but holding onto idols and addictions. Feeling like I’m trudging through mud as I stumble to the door with weights on my feet.
I love the poet’s honesty that resonates with my own heart struggles. On the one hand I want the government of Christ but I am held captive by my own desire for control. I want to fully surrender but I can’t break the hold of sin.
I’m glad that Jesus doesn’t give up knocking. There will be a day when our time is up, but for now He is camped outside our door, waiting for our white flag.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Even in surrender we need the Lord’s help, sometimes only for the fact that we think the door is already open when He sees how truly we’ve locked up parts of our hearts and devoted it to other things. We can’t clean the house without his help. There is no fixing things before we open the door just as we can’t get rid of the bad habits, thoughts and sins in our own strength. It’s an overwhelming mess as this sonnet points out. Every part of our salvation is His grace. Even our resolve to say, “Come. I surrender.”