I love words. Not just because I talk a mile-a-minute, but because it amazes me that we can string together sounds to express our insides, to shape love, to send up prayers. Scratches on a page and movements of our tongues can encapsulate war cries and catalyze change.
In baskets – one in my closet, one on a shelf, a few in my parent’s attic and a big tub tucked away in my brother’s basement, are every note, card, and love letter I’ve ever received.
Three Christmases ago I returned the Kindle my sweet mama gifted me because my shelves are smushed tightly with book pages whose paragraphs I’ve circled and highlighted till they bled.
At eighteen I dragged another college freshman pal along to a late night tattoo parlor in Kentucky for what would be the first of many words permanently written on my skin.
In frames, engraved on bracelets and necklaces, pouring out of my car’s radio speakers –
God didn’t have to give us sunsets or laughter and He certainly didn’t have to give us words, but He did.
Words certainly can get us into trouble (flip your New Testament to James 3 if you don’t believe me), but they can also offer encouragement and hope. Words can heal.
And that’s what your Hopers are going to write about this week… words that’ve healed.
Sharing ‘words that heal’ with you could be very easy. All I’d have to do is snatch up two handfuls of folded paper from my baskets of treasured notes and re-type what friends have written to me in times of darkness and times of celebration, but here’s the thing…
Eight years ago my brother Bob told me: “Words from godly friends are a blessing, but I worry that you hold onto the words of people so much more than you trust the words of God that their advice and affirmation will eventually be toxic to your soul because you idolize people over your Savior.”
Four years ago my brother David told me: “What I hear you saying is what you want to do, but you keep telling me it’s what God wants. To be honest Kate, I don’t think you’re close enough to God to really know His voice and I don’t think you’re able to decipher what He wants. So at least be honest about it, you aren’t trying to convince me because you really think God wants you to, you are trying to convince yourself.
But really you’re just telling me what you want.”
(Isn’t it a real stinger when your younger siblings have the one-up on wisdom?)
Well, they weren’t wrong.
So three years ago I got a tattoo, in white ink that almost no one’s ever noticed. It’s part of the story when the angel appears to Mary to tell her she’s going to have a baby. She’s a teenager, she’s a virgin, and so that news alone would’ve bowled anyone over – but on top of all that – she’s going to give birth to the son of God! If that was me, after a heap of smelling salts had brought me back around, I would’ve texted / tweeted / instagrammed / e-mailed / and smoke signal-ed my nearest and dearest to shout the news! Ask for advice! Beg for prayer coverage! Schedule Starbucks dates to talk about this insanity and go shopping for tiny socks and wee onesies.
But what happened?
The Bible tells us that “She hid all these words in her heart.”
And that’s the sentence quietly reminding me from my left forearm, everyday, to firstly and mostly keep my words between He and I.
And everyday I fail.
I want people, people who I can hug and high-five, people who can spring tears and wipe mine, people and their words – Not God and His.
At it’s not because I don’t think His are valuable, I’ve dedicated the last twenty years of my life to studying and then teaching His words! When I boil it down to the root of “why” it’s because, damn it, with His words – I’m not unique and I don’t feel special.
The Bible would still exist, every story, psalm, jot and tittle – for all of His other kids – even if I’d never been born or picked up an NIV, those words would still exist.
And my selfish heart wants words that are meant for me.
But that’s the thing, the difference, about HIS words – by the power of the Holy Spirit, many times the words I’m reading or that He’s revealing, are meant for me. Meant to offer hope and conviction and guidance and yes, healing.
This happened a couple of weeks ago with a pal who can give me a run for my money on words counts. She’s a verbal processor and a writer also so words are her favorite currency. She’s someone I trust completely and so my words with her are very honest and unafraid. As I sat in a big black pool of sad and hopeless words waiting for her to bring clarity with whatever syllables she’d stitch together, I was almost annoyed that she kept sending me Scripture.
Screenshot after screenshot of scripture.
I just assumed these words, written from David and included in the Psalms for anyone weren’t especially special to me. Until I read them…
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
And until tonight, I have hidden those words quietly in my heart.
Hopefully they will take root, deep roots, healing my insides as the seeds of faith & belief they planted grow.
Dear friend, turn down the volume on what people say and meditate here for a moment with your Bible open – what words has He written for everyone are especially special to you?