Recently a pastor wrote an account of a moment from his ministry. During the week after Christmas he learned that a three-month-old child had died unexpectedly during the night. He went to be present with the stunned and grieving family. For most of the visit he sat silent, remembering the wisdom that “he who keeps his mouth shut will not place his foot in it.”
Prior to leaving the home, however, he led the family in prayer. His prayer was a recitation of Psalm 23. Later he learned the family appreciated what he had prayed in the face of death. He confessed that he did not have the words, so he borrowed some from the Psalmist.
Borrowed words. Sometimes we have nothing else to offer.
The Bible is filled with words. They come in handy when we stammer and stutter, when we cannot string together words clear and deep enough to satisfy.
Some are borrowed when we face daunting challenges: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Some we borrow to simplify life and its purposes: “He has told you, mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you God?”
Some are borrowed from a devout follower of Jesus: “Do not
worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We borrow some from Jesus himself: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”
Here’s the kicker—we have no borrowed words unless we have read or heard them. We stand mute before the mysteries of circumstance unless we have soaked ourselves in the lines and themes of Scripture.
This is where Christian education and spiritual formation come in. Google is such a ubiquitous presence that we no longer see the need to absorb the lessons and words of the sacred text. In a pinch we are confident we can search the Web and borrow the words we need.
During early May we shine the light on our continuing efforts to equip you for living your life as disciples of the living Christ. Find out the source of these borrowed words and what they can mean for you.