Did you ever feel like God was trying to send you a message? At every turn you see the same words, almost as though they were written on billboards specifically for you? Perhaps since I have been blogging, I notice this a little bit more easily than I ever have.
On April 13th I posted a blog called “The Power of Words” in which I considered the effects — both positive and negative — of my words on others. Then, on April 22 I posted a blog called “The Power of Fewer Words” in which I discussed my challenge to say less and listen more. It may come as no surprise to those who know me that the kind of words and the number of words that come out of my mouth have been a life-long challenge.
Way back in the fall some new friends invited me to attend a conference for Lutheran pastors’ wives. They gave me a post card with the theme of the conference written on it, “The Word with Friends”. The logo is a wordle (see featured image); I love Wordles! I love words — I am a writer, an English teacher, a Words with Friends addict, and a bibliophile. My friends didn’t have to twist my arm to convince to come to this conference. I put the dates on my calendar, paid the registration fee, and waited for the weekend to arrive.
Well, two days after I wrote the second blog mentioned above, I was walking into the conference at a hotel in Bay City. The tables were set with Scrabble boards as centerpieces complete with chocolate Scrabble tiles! The opening games were all word games — fill in the blank, word scrambles, hinky pinky, and the like. We were even sorted into groups by drawing Scrabble tiles from a bag. I was having so much fun!!! Words and letters everywhere!!
The next morning, I woke, ate breakfast, and joined a table of women for the first of four Bible study sessions — The Power of Words, The Lack of Words, Hidden Words, and Impress these Words. Probably the biggest take away for me came in our last session on Sunday morning. We were studying James 1:19-26. Though we had been talking about words all weekend, this chunk included all the gems that God has been teaching me through the last few weeks: be quick to hear, slow to speak; be doers of the word, and not hearers only; bridle your tongue; and most importantly for me, I think, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
And really, if I am going to be honest, that is the lesson that I have been learning since I started this blog back in July — God’s Word is powerful and able to save my soul. Although I have made many changes since last year at this time — new home, new city, new church, new friends, new blog, new work life — the most impactful change has been reconnecting with the discipline of daily Bible study. I didn’t set out to make that change — it just kind of happened. My friend invited me to a Bible study. The Bible study required daily preparation. I am a good student, so I complied.
But here’s the thing — daily connection with God’s word has breathed life into me. It has poured truth into my heart. It has changed my thinking. It has slowed me down. It has allowed me to examine my thoughts, actions, and motives. It has brought me joy.
On Sunday morning, our Bible study leader gave us all a small can of Play-doh. She encouraged us to make shapes to remind us of the lessons we had learned. We made a face with a closed mouth and extra large ears to remind us to respect the ratio of one mouth to two ears. We made a hand to remind us to be doers of the word. We made a face with a tongue sticking out to remind us to bridle our tongue. And, we made a flower to remind us that God’s implanted word will bear fruit.
Words are a part of every day of my life. I read, I write, I edit, I teach writing, and I now teach reading. I must encounter thousands, even tens of thousands, of words every single day. But here’s the thing — most of those words do not have a lasting impact on my life. Sure, there are stories that I love to read over and over again. There are poems and songs that make my heart sing. My blog allows me to bring order to the chaos in my brain. But only the Words of God have the power to save my soul.
For the Word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.