The Power of Words and the Wonder of God
- Monday, December 07, 2009
About forty-five minutes later, I walked into the bathroom where Luella was, along with my then nine-year-old son, and I could tell by the way she was dressed that she was not near being ready. So I began to say helpful things to her, like informing her that it was not an Easter dinner; it was an Easter breakfast. She found that very helpful. I told her that a couple of our children were already in the car, as usual, waiting. I reminded her that I was an elder in the church and my arrival before the ham and eggs was very important to my ministry. About then my nine-year-old son said, "Daddy, may I say something?"
I should have said no. I said, "Sure, you can talk." He said, "Daddy, do you really think this is the way a Christian man should be talking to his wife?" Now, I'm a counselor sort of person. I'm pretty good at these conversations, so I said, "What do you think?" trying to escape the conviction. And little Darnay, not trying to be impertinent, said out of his little heart of faith, "Daddy, it doesn't make any difference what I think. What does God think?" I slogged out of the bathroom being duly chided, and as I got to the threshold of the door, I heard his little voice say to me, "May I say something else?" I wanted to say, "No, no, please don't!" He said, "What I mean, Dad, is what does the Bible say about it?"
I went to my bedroom and was hit immediately with a couple of thoughts. First my pride reared up. I wanted to be a hero to my son. I was embarrassed that he had seen through my harsh communication, and he had hurt for his mommy. But that thought didn't last very long. I was filled with the wonder of his question. How could it be that God would love me this much that he would give a twit of care about that mundane little incidental moment in the Tripp family? This is just one moment in one morning of one day of one week of one month of one year of one family living on one street in one neighborhood in one city in one state in one nation in one hemisphere in the globe in one moment of time. And God, in the glory of his love, was in that moment. God cares for me so much that he would raise up a nine-year-old boy to rescue my heart one more time. That is love so magnificent I can't wrap my brain around it.
You see, that love, that redeeming love is not just a big-moment love. That love reaches into the private recesses of your everyday life. It reaches into those secret, quiet moments, even into seemingly trivial moments in a bathroom on a single day. That's how zealous that redeeming love actually is, and because of that I can have—you can have, we can have—the courage to look at this difficult area of our talk. The gospel is so robust we don't need to be afraid of looking at the horror of the trouble of our world of talk, because Jesus is—and because he's our Savior.
So What's the Struggle with Our Talk Anyway?
In this chapter I want to take you on a bit of a biblical tour, and I want to ask, What is the trouble with our talk? What is the difficulty? Why is it that all of us get into talk trouble? Why do all of us look back and wish there were words we had never said? We all have had conversations we wish we could snatch out of history. We wish we could remove them from the memory of the people that heard them. I wish I could say that I'm proud of everything I've said to my children and to Luella, but I cannot say that. We simply have to ask, "What is that trouble with our words?"
Before we answer, I want to make a comment on the Bible that will provide the basis for our answer. I don't know if you've noticed this, but your Bible isn't arranged by topic. Some of you are irritated by that. You wish it was chopped up into topics, and if there were topical tabs on the side of your Bible, that would make it even easier. The Bible isn't arranged that way, but not because of accident or oversight. It's arranged that way because it was God's intention to give us his book in the form that we have it. The Bible is essentially a story. It's the grand narrative of redemption. It is actually more accurate to say that the Bible is a theologically annotated story. It's a story with God's notes. There are propositions alongside the story that are truth statements that help you to understand the plot of God's story. Also alongside the story are principles that apply the story to your life so you can live inside of the plot of God's story. God has given his Word in this way because his call to us is that we would live with a "God's story mentality." This means that in the situations and relationships where God has placed us, we are to live in a way that is consistent with the plot of God's story. God's Word is not just given to be informational but transformational of the way we live.
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