...Words can hurt you if you let them; people say them and forget them;
Words can promise words can lie, but your words make me feel that I can fly...
Carole King sings this song as the credits roll by following the movie classic You've Got Mail; words so simple yet so penetrating.
The Bible is words. You pick up an exhaustive concordance and in it you find all the significant words of the Bible; each word alphabetically in order and listed as it appears with a little context around it and you are quickly overwhelmed that you should somehow know and understand this book.
The words are as useful and important as you want them to be. You find historical names and places and poetic verse and simply profound things that are too simple to be true. The words can be theological or merely teach you the best way to live if you take advice from such books.
The words can hurt you...The Bible can hurt. It can nail me right between the eyes or nail this sinner to the cross. It can reveal me to be shameful, needy, and inadequate. It tells me I failed, and worse than that it tells me I could never have succeeded. My ship was sunk before it ever left port and sometimes I have to wonder why I needed to know that.
Sometimes I get with someone and start talking and all they can say is Bible quotes. I'm like "What do you think?" and all I get from them is someone else's words. "No, you answer with an original thought!" I scream to myself, but noooooo - zing, more chapter and verse. Like they have this book memorized but I do wonder if they really know what it means. I can read the words for myself just help me know what they mean.
I love all the promises in the bible. Prophetic words that assure me He is in control. But I've known people who read about God's promises and call it a lie. They've been hurt and the words of the promise don't ring true. Words out of context can be lies. Does it matter that the word love is used nearly three hundred times in the King James Bible if you don't know what love means?
God's words can't comfort me until I know He hurts too. I find no peace in His promises until I see that this world was and is just as cruel or even more so to Him. I cannot stop fearing this life and overcome until I see what He overcame for me.
God's word is just words until He speaks them into my heart. It was just another book until I encountered the Author. I could not trust these words until they began to ring true in the lives of others and then in my own life. The first time I read the scriptures and it felt like a good friend talking and giving me a little nudge and saying "You know what I mean?" I was stunned. Those were just words until God said, "Hey, I'm talking to you. Pay attention!" The Word of God is more about application than memorization.
"The Bible is the written word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The Voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free...God's word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God's word in the universe. It is the present Voice, which makes the written Word all-powerful. Otherwise it would lie locked in slumber within the covers of a book." A.W. Tozer
The words of God can hurt them; people say them and forget them. You don't know promises from lies and then suddenly those words will make you fly.
John 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." Jesus Christ
Those who know the words of scripture best continue to read it the most. As they turn the pages a conversation takes place between Creator and creation opening the door to the eternal.
Tim Lamb writes The Message, a weekly Christian-based faith column, for the Chelan Mirror. He lives in Entiat.