Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Word Fall

In case anyone missed my Seekerville post yesterday, I thought I'd share it here today. In case you, um, didn't just want to go over there and read yesterday's post . . . okay, so I'm in the middle a BIG reunion scene in my manuscript and don't want to take time away from it to write a blog, LOL. Indulge me.

And keep in mind that the post yesterday was the last stop on my blog tour, so your last chance at a free copy of LFY Annapolis and to enter my big giveaway that way!


As a writer, I’m always aware of the importance of words. As a writer, I pay attention to any mention of them in the Bible. As a writer, I cringe when I realize how carelessly those precious, life-giving syllables are often used. Not just in writing, but in speech. In life.

We all know the beginning of the gospel of John.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was Life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

It’s a beautiful throwback to Genesis, where God spoke creation into being. A poetic illustration of how Christ fulfills the promises set forth in the very beginning. A fine example of how powerful words, the Word, really are.

Words create. But conversely, words can destroy. Why are lies so dangerous? Why is bearing false-witness one of the big Ten? Because words are one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal, and the Lord wants us to use them wisely.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt,
that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Colossians 4:6

When we use words with the express goal of damaging others, we’re not pleasing God. He wants us to edify each other, to encourage. Even if we’re calling out someone’s mistakes (something we’re definitely told to do), we’re given strict instructions on how to do it. Why? Because it matters. Because God knows that if we just go up to our friend and say, “You’re such an idiot,” then we’re going to be hurting, not helping. Our words need to be a stepping stone for others, not a stumbling block. And so we need to take care that when we speak, it’s with the love of the Lord shining through us.

I think this is a pretty simple idea, and one that most people understand on some level. They know very well that the old “sticks and stones” rhyme is about as false as it gets. And yet, how often do we speak things we later regret? How often do we send a rash, nasty email and then wish for the backspace key? How often to do we make a dire prediction about someone, rather than going to them and lovingly admonishing them?

Are we then surprised when our predictions come true?

“As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence.”
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

One of the ideas presented in the book of James that always struck me the most is that we’re not just held accountable for what we do and say, but for what we know we ought to do and say but don’t. God judges our hearts, our motives. That means that if the Spirit whispers Go talk to her, but we hem and haw and stay put, afraid of “not coming off right,” then we’ve done something wrong.

It’s tough, right? We don’t want to hurt people by speaking amiss . . . and we’re never quite sure we’ll say things right. We don’t want to be held accountable for using words to hurt someone . . . but then He tells us that we’ll also be held accountable for not saying or doing things? Um . . . little help, God!

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, 
who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 
comfort your hearts and establish you in every good WORD and work.”  
II Thessalonians 2:16, 17

God doesn’t leave us floundering after giving us these commands, thank heavens. He gave us a whole Book to help us. Jesus came to help us redefine. And then the Spirit was given to “teach you all things, and to bring to your remembrance all things I [Jesus] said to you.”

We can do this. We can use our words as He ordained. Whether you’re a quiet, introspective person or an exuberant extrovert. Whether you write epics or only the occasional email. We’re still all held to that standard.

As one of those people who writes countless emails a day, who has written thousands of pages of fiction over the years, who is partly responsible for choosing which books WhiteFire Publishing produces, I think about that standard a lot. I know the fear of  words being taken wrongly by readers, of them being misused, of being judged harshly for them. I know the fear of not writing things as I ought, of it being more about me than God, of getting carried away with my wisdom and so not fulfilling my ultimate goal of sharing His. That’s why I bathe my work in prayer. Day in, day out, I beg Him to help me write His words. Yes, I know they won’t hold a candle to the Word He’s already inspired in His writers so long ago—but if I can help expound on the truths laid out in the Bible . . .

“This will be written for the
generation to come,
That a people yet to be created
May praise the Lord.”
Psalm 102:18

About a year ago, a reader emailed me. She said that as she reads, she keeps a notebook handy, and when something strikes her as true, encourages her, or helps her understand a gem of the Lord’s wisdom, she writes down the line from the book, the title, author, and why it spoke to her. I was touched deeply to learn that I had a page in this notebook of hers. She shared with me how important she feels words are, how powerful, and how much she admires writers for living by them. And I thanked her for the enormous blessing she bestowed upon me by letting me see that the books I sweat and cry over have an effect. This is what God wants us to do with our words—to mutually build one another up. To encourage, to edify, to be a blessing.

“Sing to Him! Sing psalms to Him!
Talk of His wondrous works!”
Psalm 105:2

Have you ever noticed how everything in the Bible ends in praise? Read the Psalms. Even the ones that are lamentations end in hope, end in glorifying the Lord. With a few exceptions, each and every song written by the psalmists will show a heart poured out and then given over to the Lord’s will, which by nature requires praise. In the epistles, the writers will admonish, direct, guide . . . and end with prayer and praise. Why? Because that is what our words are meant to do. We are to shine for the Lord, to glorify Him through the words of our mouth, just as He breathed life into us with His.

He guides us. He calls us. And when we say in response, “Here I am, Lord,” then we are fulfilling our potential.

My ultimate prayer is that I can be like Samuel.

“So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him 
and let none of his words fall to the ground.”  
  I Samuel 3:19

Lord, let my words never fall to the ground. Let them all fly heavenward to You, for You . . . that through them You may shine.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I always really appreciate the posts like this. Keep sharing please!!

  2. Hmm... I love that prayer at the end. Thank you for sharing this!
    So, I finally bought two of your books and just finished A Stray Drop of Blood. Completely enjoyed it. Will be passing it on to my mother. (I pre-read most books for her.)
    Am looking forward to reading Jewel of Persia.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Natasha--both the post and the book. =) One of these days I may stop being surprised when people say they buy them, LOL. Maybe. ;-) Hope your mom enjoys it too, and that you like Jewel of Persia!