This poem was read by Dr. Schaap at Pastors' School on March
20,2001 as Bro. Hyles' chair was retired from the platform of the First Baptist
Church of Hammond, Indiana.
Jack Hyles' Chair
by Dr. Jack Schaap
"I started out in forest glade
A modest little tree,
Surrounded by some mighty oaks,
And rugged hickory.
"My limbs were short; my leaves were few.
The shade I gave was small.
And my roots went down so deep
No storm could make me fall.
"I lived in anonymity,
A shy and timid tree.
I never thought I'd leave my woods;
I'd die obscurely.
"Some boys might build a house in me
Or hang a rope from limb;
They'd climb and play, and laugh and swing
Until the twilight dim.
"One year my trunk began to grow;
My limbs soared toward the sky.
I soon became the tallest tree;
I stood where eagles fly.
"But wait,' I cried, 'what is that noise?
Who's cutting through my bark?'
I'm feeling weak and dizzy now,
My sky is turning dark.
"With mighty voice the lumberjack
Cries, 'Timber!' down below.
I strike the ground; they strip my limbs.
My sap no more will flow.
"'I'm dead,' I thought. 'What did they do?
What now becomes of me?
Will I be carried far away
No more these woods to see?'
"Or will they sell me piece by piece
To burn in fireplace?
Is there no mercy for a tree?
Is there no saving grace?
"Am I condemned to die and burn
Because I grew too tall?
Has my Creator not a plan
Except to let me fall?
"Can I not hope that I might live
To serve humanity?
Just let me be a child's toy
Or some cheap novelty.
"I'd gladly be a pencil, or
A toothpick or a peg;
And I would gladly substitute
For one who's lost a leg.
"A pallet or a wooden door,
A barrel or a crate;
Just make me into wooden shelves;
I could accept that fate.
"I'd even let you make me be
A wooden funeral box,
But please don't let me burn in stove
To dry your smelly socks.
"A chair,' you say. That is your plan?
I guess I have no choice.
Will I be folded, fixed, or stuffed?
May I please give my voice?
"How 'bout a royal, kingly throne
On which a prince would rule?
And if not that, I'd like to be
A farmer's milking stool.
"A churchman's chair? Now that sounds good;
I never thought of that.
The only problem as a chair,
Will he be thin or fat?
"Will he be Presbyterian
Or Catholic or a Jew?
Perhaps a Mormon he will be,
With two wives or a few.
"At least I know that where I go
'Twill be a restful place,
For church is quiet and sedate;
The most they say is grace.
"I sometimes wish they'd place me in
A presidential suite,
Where under me the royalty
Would place their weary feet.
"That's not to be; I know my fate—
The order came to me.
In Indiana church up North
Is now my destiny.
"Some Baptist church is growing large,
And space is needed fast.
They're spending money carefully;
They want a chair to last.
"I'll be part of a matching set;
On platform I will rest.
I know not yet on me who'll sit,
But I will sit my best.
"My guess is that he'll wear a gown
With quiet dignity.
You know the kind—the one his wife
Used for maternity.
"I bet his collar I will see
Backward on his neck.
I really wish he'd be a man—
Oh, well, what the—hey!
"I'm looking pretty good up here
Beside my fellow chairs
In auditorium so large
With chandeliers and stairs.
"The pulpit looks a bit abused.
It's bullet-proofed, I see
With scars and nicks where it's been kicked;
My future rattles me!
"What kind of man would kick and mar
His furniture with rage?
An angry man without control,
Or youth that needs some age?
"Wow! Did you hear that sermon truth
From man in business suit?
His collar straight, no robe I see.
He's plucking souls like fruit!!
"Amen!, dear preacher man, who sits
Upon my humble seat.
I like your passion, fire, and zeal
Your wisdom can't be beat.
"How honored am I now to learn
This one whom I uphold
Was timid, shy, and modest, too;
Though now, he is so bold.
"He, too, did start in gentle woods
Amidst some mighty oaks;
He, too, felt small and little known,
But loved his common folks.
"He, too, had leaves and branches few
And cast a shadow small.
And yet, his roots were very deep,
No storm could make him fall.
"He, too, felt anonymity
And shy timidity.
He never felt he'd leave his woods,
But die obscurely.
"He, too, one day began to grow,
And spread his limbs afar;
He soon became the fastest one;
He was a shining star.
"He, too, was cut on by some men
Who made an awful noise,
But all they did was help to grow
His zealous preacher boys.
"And now this man and I must part;
We've been through many a test.
He lost no zeal; I have not sagged.
We both gave of our best!
"He watched you from my perch on high;
He loved you in his heart,
And though I never preached to you,
I helped him do his part.
"I thought one time that I should grace
A mansion or a suite,
But I would never stoop that low,
For I was God's man's seat.
"His body aged, his heart grew frail;
His head had lost some hair,
But he was always royalty,
And I was Jack Hyles' chair!"