38. Sticks And Stones

“The wars that rage within the world
 are a reflection of the wars that rage
 within people.”
— Leighton Ford

 

I have been known to, on occasion, use words as weapons.

I’m sure my Facebook friends would agree if they’ve been reading my posts for very long. Hopefully they attribute the occasional amazing insights to the Holy Spirit and realize that the less spectacular thoughts came directly through my fingers from that part of my brain which was, at the time, probably tired or frustrated or downright mad for some reason that I’ve forgotten by now.

I communicate best through a keyboard. My mouth is decidedly not trustworthy.

I remember when I first began to write, I used a portable typewriter that sat on a little pine desk in our living room. I was a terrible typist. So I’m sure I must have said to as many people as would listen, “You know, I think I might be able to write something worth publishing if I had one of those new computers – you’ve seen them, the ones with orange letters on a black TV screen.”

My parents talked it over, and to my delight, they offered to buy me one! After it was laboriously installed in my home, my personal computer immediately began giving me free lessons in the fine art of patience. But I knew that I was a “real writer” when I began finding rejection slips in my snail mailbox.

It was quite some time before my diligent sowing produced any fruit. My fellow critique groupies assured me, “It will take time. Don’t let your heart be troubled.”

One thing I love about the Bible is the way God uses words, laboriously written down by flawed human beings, to help me see that I have a lot in common with ancient, imperfect people. The consequences of many unfortunate, ancient choices have inadvertently affected my life. So tales of those events have become “my” stories. And of course, you have a connection with these people as well.

I’ll begin at the beginning with Adam and Eve, when Satan disguised himself as a snake and caught the first lady off guard by asking, “Did God really say …?” With those articulate words, the evil one pushed mankind closer to the Slip ‘n Slide of Sin that would lead to generations of misery.

Then there was Noah, whose righteousness and obedience saved himself, his family, and an uncertain number of living creatures from a watery grave. Eventually, however, one of his offspring ticked him off, and Noah ended up using words as a weapon to curse – literally – all of his middle son’s descendants! (Check out the family feud in Genesis 9:20-27.)

Abram used careful words – saying that his wife was his sister (which she actually was) – to avoid losing his life down in Egypt. (Seemed like a good idea at the time.) Moses was “slow of speech,” so his brother Aaron had to talk for him. David got it right, boasting that the Lord would deliver him from the hand of the nine-foot tall Philistine, Goliath. But then he blew it by whispering passionate words to another man’s wife, impregnating her, and sending her husband to his death at the front line of battle.

God spoke through His very ordinary prophets to give people hope: “A Messiah is coming … but He won’t be what you’d expect of a Savior.” And when the Promised One did show up to begin His long awaited ministry, Satan also popped in. His tempting promises didn’t play out as well with Jesus as they had with naïve Eve thousands of years earlier. So the devil left the Son of God “until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

Peter often spoke words that originated from his gut rather than his brain. Judas regretted the bargain he’d made with conniving chief priests, so he bought a field and fell headlong. His body burst open and all his intestines spilled out (Acts 1:18).

John was exiled to a remote island, where he had an apocalyptic vision. He wrote it all down, including the end of the story – which is actually just the new beginning – so future generations could be assured that the Lord God really does have a plan!

And so it goes. Whenever I’m feeling defeated, I can always find a story in the Bible about someone who walked the path long before I was a twinkle in my father’s eye. I try to extract life lessons from those written words. Because, in my humble opinion, that’s what they’re there for.

 

“Everything that was written in the past
was written to teach us,
so through endurance
and the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.”

(Romans 15:4)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Search God’s Word to find someone you have something in common with. Try to imagine what that person’s character was like. What was their goal, their motive, their best intention in the given circumstances? Were their words helpful or harmful? What can you learn from their situation that might be applied to yours? And thank God for the infinitely patient scribes who wrote it all down.