I woke up this morning and mumbled something to Shauna, to which she replied, “Well that sounded stronger.” And it’s true. My voice has a bit more resonance today, even if part of that is just the morning thickness. And I’ve been thinking. A lot. Here are some of my musings.
1. I know a lot of people are praying, and I want to thank you if you’re one of those. But my real bouquet goes to God—roses, thorns, and all. I’m often annoyed when I hear hurting people say, “Thank you for praying, I can feel the prayers,” or “I’m being upheld by the prayers of people who love me.” No, you’re not. A prayer is a request laid at the feet of a God who either answers it with a “yes” or doesn’t. If you feel anything, are being upheld by anything, it’s HIM, not the prayers. God. It’s amazing how many times prayer gets the credit only God should be receiving. I’m not celebrating the power of prayer, but the power of God—and his astounding ability to invite us into his work through conversations like the ones prayer creates. Wow.
2. “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say anything at all.” Or, for me last night at Olive Garden with my family, “If I can’t say something at all, I can’t say something nice either.” I was so frustrated at the table, so isolated (even though no one was ignoring me). Like I was halfway invisible. I had things that I wanted to say, but couldn’t. Things I said, and no one heard over the din of the dining. I realize now what a gift it is to have a voice—and here I don’t just mean vocal chords, but a platform, a certain permission and respect and ability to speak into people’s lives. When you talk too much, you cheapen your words. When you can hardly speak, every word must count. This, ironically, improves your voice—makes others sit up and listen because your words are carefully chosen.
3. I’ve been praying more, much more—mostly because I can’t use my own words to get everything done. And God hears every word I say, even the garbled, whispered, muttered ones that make no sense. And I’ve been gesturing a lot. Amazing what you can communicate with gestures. There’s a sermon there somewhere, I know it.
4. I mentioned my anger issues a couple of weeks back. I can feel those surfacing, yes… but also being dealt with in interesting ways. Like the Star Trek Borg mantra, “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated,” this is like, “Anger is futile. It will be assimilated.” Interesting how much my voice is part of my anger, and now that I have no voice, my anger has no legs. Reminds me of that Proverb, “Where words are many, sin is not absent.” Where words are absent, anger is a paraplegic. It still has arms that can flail and gesture and lash out in other ways, but luckily the physical side of anger has never been my problem. Jesus, go deep! Rip this sucker outta me!
So apparently my life is a walking sermon illustration.
Hey…! Yours is too, you know. And it’s worth thinking about. If I took your life this past week and mined it for sermon illustrations, what would they be about?
– The problem with apathy?
– The faithfulness of God?
– The futility of self effort?
– How God’s joy can be experienced in any circumstance?