A sudden afternoon squall whips in off the Pacific Ocean destroying a spectacular sunset in progress. It drenches me with an unexpected downpour. I scramble for cover. Grabbing the long metal handle on an old wooden door, I quickly yank it open and stomp inside dripping water everywhere. An old golden retriever lies on the floor near the register. “Must be security,” I think to myself. The old dog gingerly raises his head in a geriatric salute before returning to the nap my entrance interrupted.
“Sorry, Boy,” I whisper. The clerk smiles.
Instantly, I am captivated by the delightful store in this beach town byway. I’ve stumbled into a used bookstore complete with book dust, circa 1956, still floating around in the atmosphere. Hundreds of books jam the shelves where I long to lose track of the time on my last visit to the Oregon Coast before moving across the country. I love how books can transport me out of my own life and drop me into another world; it feels supernatural somehow.
I also love words and I am never happier than when I learn a new word – like this week’s “lamprophony.” I absolutely delight in clever double entendres, and I collect oxymorons the way some people collect baseball cards. “Found missing” and “last initial” are two of my current favorites. I am a writer. There, I said it. I am a writer possessed by the very same compulsion as the authors represented on these bookshelves, but lacking my own contribution to the store’s inventory. There is no book bearing my name here or in any other store yet, but maybe one day.
Words are the currency of every writer, but what if I couldn’t use them? How would I communicate? Would I even be able to communicate?
On Sunday Bob and I went to a church service that was presented in Korean. Out of the hour and a half service, there were only a few phrases I could understand. Here’s what I got: A blind beggar cried out to Jesus, and Jesus responded with a question: “What do you want me to do for you?” “I want to see clearly,” the beggar requested. My own spirit resonated instantly.
Apparently, I didn’t need any more words than that. I got it. Whatever the senior pastor was conveying to his congregation came through loud and clear even though I only snatched a few words here and there. I am that beggar in need of Jesus’ assistance. Jesus doesn’t need to get all theological with me; he simply wants to know what I want. He is happy to provide it because I am his child and my heart is right with Him.
“I want to see,” my heart cried out as the pastor spoke, “I want to see clearly!”
Good enough. God showed me. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one was priceless.
Shortly following the service, a woman dressed in a beautiful pink dress approached me carrying a wrapped gift. She didn’t speak much English, but she pressed the gift into my hands and said, “For you, for you.” Did she need to speak any English to explain her gift? No, giving doesn’t need words; giving is a language all its own. As soon as I opened her gift of knitted slippers, however, there was so much I wanted to say to her!
Please, let me tell you now.
Dear sweet sister, thank you for my slippers. You don’t know me but have made me feel so welcome. You don’t know I have been grieving my church family in Oregon because we moved away two months ago and have been without a church home. You don’t know that I have circulation issues in the lower half of my body, so ever since I moved to Colorado my feet have been freezing. You don’t know that I have to set my feet on top of a space heater just to keep them warm regardless of the temperature in the room. Your slippers are a perfect gift for me! You don’t know all of that, and I can’t tell you because I don’t speak Korean.
No matter. She didn’t need to know anyway. She just offered her talents to the Lord earlier in the week. She spent her week praying for her congregation and knitting scarfs and slippers to take to church on Sunday – to show others God’s love, or just in case someone might need them. Then she prayed – just in case…
Well, just in case arrived. I needed them, and God knew I needed her encouragement. He sent her right over after the service.
St. Francis of Assisi is often credited with having said, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary,” although his exact quote was a bit different than those words. The woman in pink preached an entire sermon to me yesterday, and only said, “For you, for you.”
Here are some other messages with few words:
Delighting her Father:
“I will give You thanks in the great congregation; I will praise You among a mighty throng.” Psalm 35:18 (NASB)
A Nicaraguan orphan girl’s unspoken question:
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 (NASB)
What do you hear in these messages?
Sometimes the direction of the Lord is so precise, I cannot accurately reflect it by the use of my words. Sometimes the pain in my spirit is so deep I don’t have any words to convey it, so God’s Holy Spirit steps in as my translator. And other times a whisper from the Lord is so intimate, I dare not reduce it to the limitation of words.
Words are the currency of every writer, but what if I couldn’t use them? How would I communicate? Would I even be able to communicate? One word spoken in the Spirit of God trumps thousands of words spoken without Him.
In-Spirit-ation. Speaking or writing “in the Spirit.”
The senior pastor spoke only one or two phrases in English on Sunday, but they were spoken by inspiration of God and instantly reached my heart. The beautiful lady in pink said only, “For you, for you,” but really didn’t need to say anything at all. Her actions said everything necessary. They carried all the power and authority of the Spirit of God and effectively accomplished all God intended.
It always amazes me that though we may not speak the same language, in the body of Christ we can be one even without a word.
© Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.