Words. Such an incredibly mighty force. Even that description doesn’t do them justice. They hold such power and influence and control. They are weighty and monumental. They pass down our memories and learning and inspire us to new discoveries. They teach truth and spread lies, divide and reconcile, edify and destroy. Words can turn a man, a city, a nation. They can shape a future, change the world.
And Scripture reminds us over and over that they reveal our heart and our true nature. “… for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 ESV) What comes out matters intensely. “From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.” (Prov. 13:2 ESV) How it comes out matters just as much. . “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov. 12:18 NIV)
God spoke all of creation, except for Man, into existence. With words. Only words. The sheer incomprehensibleness of this!
This week, I had the unique and humbling opportunity to perform training for fifty custodians – fifty people who do a thankless job that most of us hate to do in our own homes, during hours that no one sees nor notices. I covered a lot of necessary information with words. I expounded and explained. I described and likened.
With each word, I showed them that I cared about their safety, about their ability to do their job correctly. Then I spoke of leadership and hope I inspired and motivated. Then I stopped. I looked around the room.
And then I told them they were valued. I told them they were important. Each one. And I meant it.
At that moment, I saw a tiny, broken mosaic of God’s image. And the beauty stunned me. It flooded over me and started I started to ramble. I wanted them to see what I saw. I wanted them to sit up taller and square their shoulders knowing that they make a difference, daily. Believing it. Living it. And I felt the change in the room.
And then I listened to them and tried to answer all of their questions with patience and respect. And by holding my words back to listen to theirs I showed them even more honestly that I cared.
How often do we mistake God’s silence at our rants for negligence when, in reality, he may be giving us a chance to speak?
When I checked my mail tonight after work I found a poignant handwritten letter from a dear, sweet friend who lives far away from me.
And her words drew me in and enfolded me in an embrace in the deepest places. They were a balm to wounds I hadn’t even realized were still open. They pointed straight to Christ and his sacrificial love. They painted an astounding portrait of the sacred shelter of our Father’s wings and the Holy Spirit’s unceasing intercession on our behalf.
I cannot tame my tongue completely. And I know that I will fail. But just as I stood and told that room of bodies, created in the image of God, that they were valuable, my beloved friend reminded me of the same thing. She wrote,
“You are valuable because He declares you to be valuable and His opinion is the only one that will ever matter.”
“We can breathe that truth in and out and fall back on our Father’s hands in gratitude that we are not alone in trying to make that truth sink in. In our desperate attempts to cling to truth he is with us and when it just doesn’t click he is there, too. And we can be encouraged that we don’t have to knuckle down and force this truth to click but [know] that he is with us and helping us to believe, day by day, minute by minute.”
This this week I join her in her prayer and echo her beautiful, heartening words to ask it for us all: “May we fight the good fight for quietness of the soul and rest in our redeemer.”
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