A Word, Please

My Christian heritage is a most precious part of my life. My mother was the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman (look her up in the Bible or on-line, if you are not familiar with her . . . the 31st chapter of Proverbs).  Mom taught me what it means to be a faithful Christian. It’s not about religion; it’s about having a loving relationship with God through Jesus.

Some of my earliest memories are saying my “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer every night; sitting in tiny chairs in a classroom with other children while our Sunday School teacher taught us that Jesus loved us, usually using felt figures on a board as visual aids; sitting on the front row seats in church with my siblings while our mother played the piano; and hurrying eagerly to Children’s Church where we had fun and learned about the things of God. Vacation Bible School was something I looked forward to every summer from a tiny girl all the way through my teen years.  It was always fun, and I always learned more than I realized at the time.

One of the main things I learned as a child and am still learning as a senior citizen is how relevant the Word of God is . . . how on-target it is for every stage and situation of life. It means a lot to me when I am going through a hard situation, and I find the perfect scripture verse to encourage or guide me. Some people look at the Bible as if it were just a dusty old book, but it is the living Word of God . . . always powerful, always relevant, always precious.

When my son was in rehab, we could only write letters for a time . . . no phone calls or visits.  He was going through a hellacious time, and I tried to encourage him as much as I could through letters. The thing about me is I can only be me. So, being me, I scattered scripture verses throughout the letters to back up what I was trying to communicate, because scripture is what encourages me most in difficult times. It never occurred to me that he might receive it differently from the way I intended. I raised him in church and to know the Bible. When I received a letter from him saying, “Mom, you’re a good writer. Use your own words. You don’t have to quote scripture at me,” I was surprised and a little hurt. I never meant to preach at him . . . only encourage him the best way I knew how.

Unfortunately . . . or perhaps fortunately . . . I had already mailed him a letter with, yes, more scripture.  He had written how hard it was for him to sleep at night; how badly his dreams tormented him. I told him about when I was a young woman, and his dad worked out of town all week and came home on weekends.  I had never been on my own before. I went from Daddy’s house to our first home after my husband Bill and I were married. I had a lot of trouble sleeping when he was out of town. Every little creak and noise frightened me during the night.  One night I was reading my Bible and found a verse in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  That verse came alive to me, and I quoted it every night before I went to bed. It reminded me that God would keep me safe. The fear left, and I never had trouble sleeping again. My hope was that the same verse would help my son.

Several weeks later, we were taking him to a half-way house. I overheard him tell his brother, “Yeah, wouldn’t you know it? About the time I told Mom she doesn’t need to quote scripture at me, she found out I was having nightmares and not sleeping, and she sent this verse to me that was spot-on.” He laughed. I smiled. That’s the way the Bible is . . . spot-on in every situation.  My son is now program director for two half-way houses, and he gives God the glory for keeping him clean all these years. And I think he’s accepted that he has a mother whose every day conversation just might include verses from the Bible.

Since then, I’ve tried to be mindful of who I am talking to and what the situation is, so that I don’t seem to be preaching at anyone. I never wanted to do that. Encourage, yes. Preach, no. But I also don’t want to hesitate to share a verse with someone if it is timely and needed. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). There is no word more fitly spoken than the Word of God.

Ancient Words by Michael W. Smith

God’s love letter to His children

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