HopeWriters Challenge: Raising my voice –
My child, if you accept my wordsProverbs 2:1 – 5 NRSV
and treasure up my commandments within you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
if you indeed cry out for insight,
and raise your voice for understanding;
if you seek it like silver,
and search for it as for hidden treasures—
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
I’m raising my voice to find God!
In Proverbs, the parallel phrases, “cry out for insight” and “raise your voice for understanding,” elevate the meaning, strengthening the idea that we use our words as we search for wisdom much like our hunt for hidden treasures, with great diligence and effort. But wisdom itself is not the goal! It’s to find God! Not just an intellectual knowledge, but to know Him, my creator, redeemer, friend, and Father!
And so in my writing, I am raising my voice to find my own understanding, to process my thoughts, but also to suggest ideas to you, the reader, hoping to offer an element of clarity as I connect life, scripture, poetry, and more.
I love the emphasis in this passage linking words,
commandments, wisdom, understanding, and insight.
Words matter. With words God spoke the world into being. With words He blessed it saying, “It is good!” With words He called His disciples, “Follow me!” And with words He pronounced His work done, “It is finished.” His commands are given to us in words, and in His words we find true wisdom, understanding and insight. God uses this key element of our language, words, to reveal who He is, to relate to us.
In writing, I seek to find my voice –
first in my identity in Christ.
May the words of my mouth and
the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer!
But scripture also speaks to our words. I remember one of our pastors, an older gentleman, kind, just a little country, saying, “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket!” Jesus, when speaking to the Pharisees, was very clear about our use of words!
“You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”Matthew 12:34 – 37 MSG
Words are a gift. Each of us has life experiences, lessons learned, passionate interests fueled by the Spirit. What a blessing to share with others, sometimes in quiet conversations, in written notes or letters, in speeches or sermons. When was the last time you wrote a sweet note to a friend or an encouraging word to your pastor? Using our words as a gift from God to build up the body of Christ is our privilege!
We also use our words with love to those who do not yet have a relationship with God. I know you’ve seen the arguments, hateful statements, trashing one another online. In the past few years it seems like the ugliness of exchanges online has increased exponentially. How can we make a difference? How can we use our words to honor Christ, and respect those who do not follow Him? I’m reminded that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world – and so in imitating Him, we offer grace to those who believe differently than we do. As I search to find my voice in writing, I’m also reading and writing to build bridges, heal, restore, celebrate – my goal to glorify God and support human flourishing. All of society can be built up by good words – no matter personal beliefs. In finding my voice, I ask the Spirit to awaken my compassion, stamp our my tendency to judge, and to cause life-giving words to find their intended audience.
May the commandments of God,
to love Him with all my heart, mind,
soul and strength and to love my neighbor
be evident in my words!
The reward for searching, crying out, raising voices, seeking, searching is God Himself! Knowing God, not just knowing about Him is our delight! And so, my finding my voice is to process, search out, dig deep in thoughts to know Him better … to thank Him, praise Him – for his steadfast love endures forever!
Thus says the Lord … there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord: “Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”Jeremiah 33:10-11