Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105
I recently had a dream that my wife lost her voice for a day. She couldn’t speak. All she could do was nod. Imagine a spouse who cannot say a word. Whatever I said, she could not contradict. Whatever issue came up, I was guaranteed to have the last word. All she could do was smile and nod.
When I woke up I thought, wouldn’t it be unbearable if she were to forever lose her voice. I know her voice better than any other. To never hear it again, to never hear her laugh, or talk, or give encouragement, or express love, or disagree, or argue and then make up again, would be unthinkable.
For one day, it would be enjoyable, but for a lifetime… Where there’s love, where there’s relationship, there are words. I love words.
I can be transported to another planet when I read Peralandra or I can find myself in a dusty border town in Texas called Lonesome Dove. I can laugh at the outrageous characters dreamed up by Flannery O’Connor or feel a tear track its way down my cheek at the last scene of The Grapes of Wrath. In so many ways words are my world.
But no words—written or spoken by great authors—compare with the Word of God to bring lasting change to a culture, guidance to a government or gentle encouragement to a frightened heart.
There is nothing on this earth that can shape your soul like the Word of God. There is nothing that can give you comfort and hope like this love letter from Jesus.
A few years ago, my wife and I visited an elderly saint in our Church who had broken her hip and was in the hospital. We stood in the doorway to her room when her daughter saw us and waived us in.
After washing our hands, we walked in and when she saw me, she raised her knobby hands, with tubes taped to them, and beckoned me to come close. I held her hand and I asked how she was feeling and assured her of her churches love and prayer support.
Her chest moved up and down and a deep guttural rasp escaped with every exhale. It was as if she were pushing a piano off her chest with every breath. Every exhale was loud and labored. There was a wild look of concern in her eyes. What you might expect from someone who was uncertain about their next breath.
Her daughter asked if I had a Bible. I felt my face flush and said that I didn’t have my tool box with me. She said that Providence Hospital couldn’t find one and that her mother wanted to have the twenty third Psalm read to her. I said, “Well, I think I might be able to recite most of it.” (Secretly hoping that I remember all of Psalm 23, but will probably mess this up)
I put my right hand on her forehead and held her hand in my left hand and began to recite, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
She closed her eyes and her breathing grew quiet and serene. I continued, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul…”
Her breathing was as gentle as a baby’s. I looked at her daughter and tears were streaming down her face.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Give us this day our daily bread…and Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; for Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen”
My face burned because I knew I had mashed Scripture together that didn’t belong. I was hoping that since it sounded like the King James Version that she wouldn’t notice and that God would forgive me messing up His book. Then she opened her eyes and looked at me.
“Did that sound familiar?” I asked.
With misty eyes she slowly nodded her head. I tried to wrap up the visit so we wouldn’t tire her out.
She squeezed my hand tightly and said, “Pastor, I have confessed all my sins to Jesus and I am ready to go.”
I smiled and said, “It’s not time for that yet.”
“Well, stay or go—either way, it’s fine” she said.
Her words fell like notes from a lover’s ballad into my heart and reminded me of the Apostle Paul who said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Where there’s love, where there’s relationship, there are words.
Does God have words? Does God have a voice? Does God speak?
You tell me.