Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Thousand Words.

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow to the booming voice of God saying, “You have 1,000 words left and then your life is over”?
I guess you might question your sanity but we'll overlook that path of thinking. In this scenario, you know it to be true. You have a thousand words of life left. And then that’s it.

James 3:2 says this: "Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way."

I don’t see anyone making those cute little verse graphics to share of that one on instagram.
It’s not a pretty or feel-good verse but it needs to be addressed. This is a real struggle and in a lot of ways, it’s the thing that is diluting the effectiveness of the church today. And know, please, I’m not preaching at you here. I can only write this because God’s been hitting me over the head with it for a solid year now. My study on the subject has reached the point that I have to write about it to sort my own thoughts.  

I've thought about it a lot, and I've come to this solution. I want to start every day as if I only had a thousand words left.
A thousand words is not very many. Already, I've typed 283 words on this page. We have entire conversations, spending hundreds of words, about gas prices and the weather and Miley Cyrus twerking. We make plans and then we talk those plans to death. We treat our language like an infinite currency, thus cheapening it's face value. We are utterly wasteful with our words. 

It might not be such a big deal to just talk a lot about meaningless nonsense if I wasn’t a professed Christ follower. The thing is, deliberation is key for a Christian. We have been commissioned with the task of spreading what is, hands down, the most amazing and unbelievable story known to mankind. We believe that the God of the universe, the creator of everything…EVERYTHING (grasp that, it’s huge), made the choice to pull on skin, be born as a baby to a virgin, live about 33 sinless years then be nailed to a tree and die a horrible death all because he loves us individually and wants a relationship with us. Take a moment to view this from someone’s point of view who doesn’t know Christ. Or remember from your own point of view if you have lived part of your life as a non-believer. 
So, how do we do it? How can we be most effective at sharing this incredible gospel? Well… I think we have to take our one thousand words and use every last one of them in a very calculated way, with complete awareness of the weight we bear as a witness for Christ. We have to be a credible source. We have to establish relationships that reflect that love that sent Him here so that our actions do not contradict our words. Most importantly, we have to consistently LIVE our faith.

I think a person’s first response to finding out they only have a thousand words left would be to immediately lavish their family and friends with loving sentiment.
Seems legit.
I’m a mom. I have babies I’d give my life for. I’m a wife with a husband who I am completely in love with. It seems noble and romantic that if I only had a thousand words left, I’d want to give them all to them. I would be wrong though. Satan has a way of mixing people up here, especially mothers. Because we live with this overwhelming mom-guilt and somehow, if we could SAY we love our kids enough, maybe it would atone for the feeling we have when we fail them. 
Ladies, listen to me here. You are going to fail your kids. You are a human. You are going to fail your marriage. You are going to screw up and let your family down. The only thing you will EVER do that is fail-proof is to reflect Christ to your family so that they might come to know Him. Because He does not disappoint. He never forgets. He never gets too stressed. He never raises His voice in a moment of tension. We could save a lot of words if we would employ our actions. Think of the Proverbs 31 woman. The only mention of her speaking in all 21 verses is that “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be that woman. I want to be the kind of woman who pours her heart and soul into serving her family for 20 verses and only speaks for one.

What about the things we allow to dilute our witness? What about gossip, lies, and arguing? Those things may not seem so destructive, but what if you only had a thousand words? Think about how many you would be willing to waste talking about an irritating friend or co-worker. If that five minute conversation represented a large portion of what you had left, you’d be a lot more likely to just let offenses go. And regarding lying, if you only had a thousand words left, would you want to risk losing someone's trust and causing everything you say to be questionable? Lies can cost a lot of words in the long run and cheapen the potency of the ones you use. Remember, you are living your life to tell a story that’s already hard for some people to comprehend. Don’t you want your words to be as believable as possible?
Oh, and lets touch on arguing and being hateful. You’d think this would be something Christians would accept as truth, considering Christ had so much to say about love, but sadly it isn’t. It may feel like you are doing the work of God when you choose to argue laws and politics and take a stand against things like homosexuality and abortion. The problem is that when you choose to pick a fight like that, often the people get forgotten. Christ wasn’t in the business of laws. He was in the business of souls. And He didn’t die only for “the good Christians”. In fact, scripture makes it clear that we pretty much all suck as people and all fall short of God’s glory. So if you have to make a choice between arguing against abortion or telling a mother who has aborted multiple pregnancies that Jesus found her worth dying for, please, choose the latter. It’s a better way to spend your words because after all, legislation doesn’t change hearts. Jesus does.

About gossip and idle chat, about being untruthful, about being hateful, it all comes down to James 3:11- Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Imagine a man who has been wandering through the wilderness for months. This guy is worn down. He’s tired. He is skin and bones and dehydrated. You have a water bottle of fresh, clean water and a bottle of poisoned water. Clearly he needs something to drink. His life depends on it. You know that and you want to help him. Which bottle do you give him? It’s a no brainer. Well, what if you just mixed the two, and give him that? Have you just given him some mostly fresh water, only a little poisoned, so it will mostly help him?
No, it doesn’t work like that. If you only have a thousand words, don’t dilute them with poison. Keep your water pure. Lives could depend on it.

What about your trials and troubles? You’ve got concerns and fears. Sometimes, you just need to vent.
James 1:19 says “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” I’ve always thought of this scripture in terms of dealing with people. Sure, it helps in your earthly relationships to open your ears and shut your mouth, but this applies to our relationship with God as well.
Here’s a lesson that I’ve learned well over the past six months. I recently started a project on Facebook where I post daily photos of life in our home. Someone noted to me that there are a lot more photos of my younger sons than my older ones. Yes. That is true. I am currently going through a custody trial with my older sons’ dad, and they are currently only at my house half of the time. The first few weeks of this, when I was first dealing with them being gone, I talked. A lot. I talked to anyone who would listen. I retold the same story over and over and over. Until I just…ran out of words. And then, finally, I really prayed. And amazingly, miraculously, God answered. Over and over, through scripture and well-timed Christian songs, and even perfectly worded Church signs, He answered. And only because I finally shut up did I hear Him. My faith grew. I learned to appreciate my boys in a way I never had before. I learned to trust God even when I am not in control of their lives. And I finally reached a point that I could be thankful for what I’d learned and that my creator loved me enough to walk with me through it. Sometimes, we can focus so much on our problems and being slighted that we don’t even see God working behind it all.
I wish I could say I’m the kind of strong Christian that immediately goes to prayer and my bible when things get tough.  God’s not finished with me yet, but I’ve learned a lot this year. I’ve learned that if I only had a thousand words, I’d spend a whole lot more time in a quiet room with God working through my troubles instead of calling my best friend and venting. Actually, thinking about it from this perspective, there are lost of places I waste words where I should just be praying. There are afternoons where I go put a load of towels away to come back in the bedroom and find my toddler has emptied my entire dresser on the floor. There are times when my husband has hurt my feelings and I feel the need to tell him, in that moment, just how mad I am and why he’s wrong and I’m right. There are instances where customer service is mind-blowingly bad and I lay my Christian face down for a few minutes to let the minimum-wage-worker on the other end of the line know exactly how frustrated I am. If I would just immediately turn my heart to God in these situations and keep my mouth shut, I’d have a lot less regret I’m sure and likely a lot more peace.

I’ve thought about this a lot lately and I’ve come to this.
I want to love my family and friends with not only my words but with my life, efforts and actions (Proverbs 31). I want my mouth to be a spring of fresh water to those who are trying to follow Christ around me as well as those who don’t know Him yet (James 3:11). I want to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
I want to live my life like I only have a thousand words left.
Or a hundred even.
Or ten.

And I want every one of them to point to Christ.


  1. Beautifully expressed :)

  2. Well said! I need to be more careful!

  3. Even from the perspective of someone that doesn't bother with religion, this has to be the most beautiful thing I have read in ages! Well said! Thank you for sharing this :)

  4. Love this!!! So thought out and deep, thank you for sharing!!

  5. Wow. Thank you. I'm going to chew on this one for a long time, I can already tell!

  6. May God continue to bless you as you have been a blessing to me, through reading your story am reminded of what an awesome God we serve. Praying for you and your family!!!

  7. My thoughts and prayers are with April,Daniel and all who've had their lives changed by the storms of this past week.As I read April and Daniels story,I kept thinking 2 things.One was of Job,and his unwavering Faith.The other was "I want a Faith like that".A Faith that surpasses any earthly comprehension and soars to the Heavens to be held strong by God.As only God can do.A Faith that can't be shaken.A Faith that only compares to a mustard seed.For with that,mountains shall be moved.You are in our hearts and in our prayers.Much love and many hugs.

  8. "So if you have to make a choice between arguing against abortion or telling a mother who has aborted multiple pregnancies that Jesus found her worth dying for, please, choose the latter. It’s a better way to spend your words because after all, legislation doesn’t change hearts. Jesus does." The last 6 words = truth. I would also say this is one of the dangers of turning to the government as provider as people will ultimately look to government rather than Jesus as the answer.

  9. April has it right. She knows where her children are, and although they were young, these boys accomplished God's missions for them here.

    I had two babies who both died as infants. It hurt, bad. As I learned my babies were dying, I prayed and I gave them to God, to do with them as He willed.This gave me peace, to know my beautiful infants were going to be in Heaven.

    With the first one, it was harder. I had her for eighteen days. She was doing so well, and then she was gone. All of my hopes and dreams for her future had to die, too. It hurt, BAD.

    One day, I decided to go to the beach and just sit there and try to make sense of this. I wanted my baby so much, I had so many hopes and dreams for her, but God had even better plans. I sat there on an empty beach and sat with a numb, blank mind.

    I looked out to the sea for a long time. Then, I happened to look down at the sheet I was sitting on. A tiny ant was walking across it. That ant unleashed something in me that I didn't know I had. I was angry. VERY ANGRY with GOD. How could God allow something as insignificant as an ant live and my precious Renee to die?

    It is a good thing no one was around to see me. I jumped up from my peaceful sitting so fast. I yelled. I screamed. I kicked dirt. I shook my fist. At God!!! I probably raged for fifteen intense minutes.Then, all of a sudden, I stopped. Yikes! I yelled and threw a fit, I shook my fist. At God!!!

    You just aren't supposed to do these things to God. I waited for a lightning bold to zap my fanny. Something. What I did was very bad.Do want to know what God sent me? He sent me something beautiful.God gave me peace. I learned that God understood my rage. My God loves me and forgives me.

    When I lost my second baby. It hurt, but I was peaceful. I was able to understand better that my tiny son, Stephen, had accomplished his life's mission. As I held him, I gave him to God.He died a beautiful peaceful death in my arms. My baby never experienced anything but love. He never had the hardships that we face. From my love to God's eternal love...

    A few years later, I tried one more time.I had a two pound, fifteen ounce baby boy. He is now a big, strong, handsome, kind, loving and God loving, twenty-four year old man.

    I almost lost him when he was four after a bad fall. He lay there, dying and I said my prayer. "God, I give you my son, to do with as you will." I looked across a misty field and thought; God doesn't give you what you can't handle. " God, you must think I am awfully strong..."

    My son made it, eight hours of brain surgery later, he made it. His little head had an indentation fracture, but his brain was irritated, not injured. The following day, as soon as his ventilator was removed, George was conversing in complete, coherent sentences. The nurses and doctors were amazed. This just does not happen. No, it doesn't. This boy is a gift from my God!

    It has taken me years to heal from the loss of my daughter. Each year that passes brings me more peace. So many people were touched by her little life. She did so much in her eighteen days. To this day, people mention her and how her life impacted theirs.

    Presently, I am dealing with breast cancer and I am in chemo. It has been easy and I am going to be fine. People have wondered to me, " Why you? Haven't you been though enough?" I have had an unusually high number of other hardships, but my faith is unwavering.This is just one more step in God's plan. I know that my attitude toward cancer, my faith, and my open honesty has been an inspiration for hundreds of people.

    Prayer is powerful! I am praying for you, April and Daniel, and all of your friends and all who have been hurt in some way by the tornado. May God's peace and love be with you all of your days.

    1. What a wonderful story you have. As April told me the other night "God knows my heart. He wouldn't do this to break me. It is for a reason"
      Thank you for sharing. Your story has touched me. I am going to save it and show April.

  10. I believe Jesus led me to this blog. I have been suffering through a painful marriage with a mean and controling man. Some days I am afraid for my life. I have been asking myself why I could just never be good enough. I feel so alone most days. Perhaps God is working in the background for me
    as well. Today I prayed for strength. I didnt know what else to ask for.