Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What Did You Say?

It was shortly after my husband and I separated. For months I'd been applying Band-Aids to my childcare situation, using a rotation of parents and oh-so generous friends -- none of whom I wished to impose upon indefinitely. I was struggling financially, and while additional hours were available at work during the holiday season... childcare. I was homeschooling when I wasn't working; the dissolution of our marriage, though a long time coming, was difficult, to say the least. It was Christmas, a time of joy and promise, and I was emotionally and physically tapped. As I stepped out on my front porch in the wee hours of a frigid December morning, preparing to go to work, my neighbor -- a notorious nightowl -- was hanging Christmas lights. I'm not sure if we exchanged pleasantries or any other remarks; I only remember her words: "Have a good night; I love you." At a moment when the night was not the only thing in my life void of light; at a moment when loneliness was something I dared not even consider lest it consume me without a fight, there was love. She spoke the words with such authenticity and ease. Those words changed the course of not only my workday, but have warmed me and encouraged me every time I've thought it since.

This morning I was reading Micah 6. God is defending His actions toward Israel (not that they had any just cause against Him). Of all the things He could have used to defend His character or His provision for them -- crossing the Red Sea, quail falling from the sky in quantities so large they gorged themselves, remaining forever with them in fire and cloud -- He uses the account of King Balak sending Balaam to curse God's chosen people, Micah 6:5 reads:
"Don’t you remember, my people, 
how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed
         and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?"

God did not even interact with, or directly bless His people in this circumstance; He merely intervened to stop the plans of a wicked king and his lackey. So why, of all things would God use this occasion as proof of His love for Israel? Among other things, God knows the power of the spoken word. He knows what we can do, what we feel when we lift up our voices in praise to Him (James 4:6-8). He knows how important it is for us to be in agreement with Him about who we are and where we fail (2 Timothy 2:21). He longs to hear us speak our requests to Him and tell us what is on our minds (1 Timothy 2:1-3).  God spoke the universe into existence (Gen. 1); His Word is sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12) and is a complete source for sanctifying and equipping His saints (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The power of words.

In this "intelligent and enlightened" society, hate speech is so prevalent it requires laws to prevent it. We tell ourselves lies about valuing and respecting diversity, while truthfully we fear and hate it to its very core. Technology has made it almost effortless to contact someone on the other side of the world, in some of the most remote locations, yet type of education or familiarity has not taught us the value of uniqueness, made our world any more smaller or unified. Our speech vilifies and condemns people that appear the least bit different, or live life in a way we consider strange, or express an opinion that sounds even a bit unlike our own. How sad that we speak curses on one another simply because we are different. What would be possible, if we were to speak words of love, encouragement, blessing? I found out in the yellow-white glow of artificial icicles.

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