My schedule has been somewhat in upheaval this month for a number of reasons, so I offer you today a piece I wrote during in-patient rehab. It is good for me to look back and see how far we have come, and also to be reminded that God’s Word is as true today as it was then.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 12:18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Years ago I read a book by Larry Crabb in which he described words as being in two general categories: life words and death words. As I remember it, the gist of the book had to do with being careful what we say to people and how we say what we say. Words can be very powerful tools. I have been struck by this several times in the past week – how words can bring about a myriad of emotions and reactions. When a therapist says to Sherman, “There! I felt your muscles start kicking in that time,” I feel as if I have been given a gift of great price…life! When I read on the handicap parking application, “permanent disability,” it stabs like a knife…death. Then there are those sentences that are kind of like a roller coaster ride, “You may be discouraged at the slowness of your progress, but I see change, and I am confident that you will walk again, if only for short distances.” I remind myself I need to know. I need to have a clear picture of what to expect. But then I find my heart rebelling. After all, they can guess, but they don’t really know what will happen. They don’t know that he won’t be back to doing all the things he used to do! Oh, but they don’t really know if he will walk again either.
Sometimes the words that feel like death are really not death at all. They are necessary pushes towards reality as we know it here on earth. A few weeks ago, the word that shot a hole through my heart was “massive” as in “massive stroke.” Believe me, that one felt like a violent death. And yet, now I am aware that while in medical terms it was massive, it was by no means terminal. It may be a permanent disability, but it won’t be totally disabling. Sometimes I feel like I am caught up in the flood waters that are escaping the Mississippi river – being swept away in the deluge of words. Then I am reminded that there is only ONE who speaks the words of LIFE. There is only ONE who knows what the future holds for my husband and me. The comfort is in knowing that HE is able “to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day” II Timothy 1:12.
So. What I need to do is be careful who I am listening to, and where I am placing my trust. I need to ask the experts and listen to them. They have a great deal of experience to back up their assessments. I need to plan in terms of what they tell me. While we have every indication that Sherman will one day be independent again (at least for short distances), for now he is disabled. The words, though painful, are instructive. They are actually life words. This is where I listen, and in earthly terms put my trust.
However, I can’t stop there. I must also listen to the WORD – the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). I must remember that all my days (and Sherman’s) were written when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16). I need to remember that these present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18), and that the Spirit makes intersession for us according to the will of God (Rom 8:27). And that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom 8:37) [Just read the whole chapter!]. What a blessing it is to have been given the opportunity to know and serve the One who has the words of eternal life (John 6:68), and honestly, where else would we go?