We use thousands of them a day—by some accounts up to 20, 000. Many of them empty. Powerless to deliver consolation or hope, our words fall to the ground like arrows short of their mark.
How many times, for example, have we patted someone on the back and told them, “It will be OK,”? Even though we mean well, we have no way of knowing or influencing the outcome. Our friend shrugs an, “I know,” but goes away as dejected and unbelieving as before.
Sometimes I read the words in my Bible like that. I hear God say them, but don’t really believe they will help or change a particular situation in my life. I don’t believe ANYTHING can help.
Last week was one of those times. I inadvertently did something that mortified me. Even though I immediately tried to correct the situation, the deed was done. The hounds of shame, humiliation, anger, and embarrassment pounded so relentlessly that I ran away.
I ended up a lake. The beauty of the sun, the flotilla of coots in the cove, the soft slapping of ripples from passing boats assuaged some of my distress; still, I didn’t know how to get past what was done.
After a while I had the impression to read Isaiah 54. Doubting even Isaiah could help, I opened to the passage. Verse four: “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced .... “The chapter ends, “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication is from me.”
You would think those words brought immediate relief, but comforting as there were, they didn’t touch my misery. Because I didn’t receive them.
As I got up to leave, I saw in my mind’s eye, a piece of paper on the bench, and I heard the Lord say, so gently, “Are you going to leave this word here, like a discarded scrap on a park bench?”
“But the word they heard did not profit them because it was not united by faith in those who heard”—Hebrews 4:2
I sat down, opened to Isaiah once again. The sun danced off the ripples, the coots floated by. Living words, words of life, words of hope washed over me.
When you received from us the word of God’s message you accepted it not as the word of men but for what it really is the word of God which also performs its work in you who believe.—1 Thessalonians 2:13
May the blessings of living words from a living God fill your heart today.