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Teetering on the Brink

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NASB)

Living out my walk with Jesus in “the 167” as we say at Creekside (the other 167 hours of the week after the hour of church service), has been challenging these days leading up to the election of 2020.

One week, my pastor exhorts plainly from the pulpit: faith without works is dead. Get busy doing what God is telling you to do!

Another week, our text is James 3:1-12. My pastor preaches: beware, beware! “What a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” Tremble with fear for the things that come out of your mouth! In fact, the things that come out of your mouth reflect who you are! (Yikes, I think. Who am I? Look to my words and I will know—terrifying. We know so well what fire can do in these days of hotter and drier summers and wild winds, don’t we? That’s what the tongue can do.)

My pastor concludes his “fiery” sermon with a cheery video that says, in essence: Keep talking! Do good with good words!

All this input, all these good words, leave me in a private place of anguish. Why? Because I am a person of words. I run away from writing, but I am compelled to write. All day long I’m writing in my mind. The words are almost like a command. But I don’t heed it—partly because writing is so self-revealing. Yet the sermons are pushing, pushing, pushing me.

I think about words especially now because Election Day is so near. We’re going to vote on leaders who influence the entire nation. For whom shall we vote? What do the words of the candidates reveal? Twitter feeds and campaign speeches, press conferences and debates—all these words have power to bless or curse, to damage or to do good.

“Words Reveal Character” is the title given to Matthew 12:33-37 in my NASB Bible, where Jesus is speaking:

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

How the Bible has raised the stakes in our speech!

And here is a grief. I hear from some whom I love that words don’t matter, that character doesn’t matter in electing a leader to govern over 330 million people. How can this be?

I take this grief to my Father in heaven. And my Father in heaven has led me to Calvary. There I find Jesus, tortured and degraded, using words, not as fire to deal damage, but to reveal God’s goodness. His words are sourced from heaven.

From the cross, Jesus said, “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.”

From the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

From the cross, Jesus said to a thief, “This day you will be with Me in paradise.”

There are great destructive fires of words these days, and there’s peril in adding words of my own, but Calvary strengthens me.

Can you believe, my husband just got up and relayed a dream to me as I wrote these lines? In his dream, I was driving a car and failed to get off at the exit he indicated. I drove on to the top of a pass, and then, walking along the top, I suddenly jumped off and fell several stories.

If I teeter on the brink of heaven or hell when I write, there is a risk that I will fall. But if I fall, I will seek God’s forgiveness for intentional or ignorant sin and commit myself and my words again into God’s hands. When all is said and done, I trust Jesus to take me to paradise with every sinner who will permit Him.

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