Sweet Words

Journal 2009.

“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your Word was to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of Hosts.” (Jeremiah15:16)

Thought #1. What did Jeremiah mean by eating God’s words? I think about the word biblio-idolatry (the worship of the Bible). This is the person who studies every word, shade of meaning, and explanation but never falls in love with the author (The Word Himself). It’s the person who can’t let go of the literal to read in context. Or the one who boasts in the ability to find any verse, quote any passage. They’ve fallen in love with the beauty of the language, or they use verses to beat people over the head.

That was not the case with Jeremiah. He had a relationship with the author of the words, and therefore the words were sweet to him. When my husband says to me, “I love you,” I cherish his words. If an acquaintance says, “I love you” because I happened to be kind to her, the words do not hold the same impact as someone I deeply cherish. I can thank her politely and then flick them away. I don’t “eat her words and enjoy their sweetness” like I do when Scott says them.

Thought #2. What does it mean “I am called by Your Name”? My maiden name was assigned by default from my father, and I inherited my last name by marriage. My given middle name, however, belongs to my paternal grandmother. I am “called by my grandmother’s name” means I’m associated with her. And though I never knew her, I want to “do her proud,” as Grandpa would say. But to be called by GOD’S name? Wow! Here’s the relationship as I see it:

He is King                   I am a Princess

Lord                            Indentured servant

Messiah                       Saved one

Shepherd                     Sheep

Truth-giver                  Truth-receiver

Creator                        Created

Redeemer                    Redeemed one

Master                         Slave

Comforter                   Comforted one

Counselor                    Counselee

Father                          Daughter

Prince of Peace           Peace-receiver

Holy One                    Purified one

Savior                          Saved

Vine                            Branches

Door                            Protected one

Way                             Traveler

Word vs. Spirit

Journal 2005

As I study the passages in the Word about the Holy Spirit, I wonder where the balance is between study and experience. My Bible training was all academic: interpretation, dissection, exegesis. If I only have the written Word and no Holy Spirit inside to interpret them, I simply have a collection of symbols on a page, lifeless and meaningless. But if I didn’t have the written Word, how would I know what my experience meant? But Jesus IS the Word—the Living Word. He brings the symbols to life and gives them meaning. I need both.

I wonder why God chose to use words to communicate with us. Why not comic-book pictures? Or is the world itself and its experience a visual? A picture would not be reproducible in certain countries or eras. But words endure, can be passed down through the generations. Can be heard. But for those who are visual . . .  I guess God gives each of us the visuals in our minds that meet our needs the best. But then, so do words.

A 2023 Update. After praying with people for the past 22 years, I’ve come to realize how important both words and visuals are. Clients will say, “I know the truth in my head, but I don’t feel it in my heart.” What they are describing is left-brain (words, logic) vs. right-brain (pictures, emotion). Our experience comes first, followed by interpretation of the event. When I read Scripture, I’m engaging my left brain. When the Holy Spirit speaks directly to my heart (emotions), I experience the truth and it gets correctly interpreted.

The Word and the Spirit

Journal 2005

Sometimes I learn more truth through other people’s processing than I do through my own. Yesterday, while praying with a client over the phone, God answered a question for her that answered a question for me: If we have the Holy Spirit, why do we need the Bible? And if we have the Bible, why do we need the Holy Spirit?

Now, I could have given her a plausible explanation that would have satisfied me. However, it made the most sense to her when she visualized a classroom. We need both the Teacher and the textbook. A student gets information from the text—facts, history, stories, and even poetry, but she has a relationship with the Teacher. The Teacher asks and answers questions about the text; He explains, expands, and embellishes it. And how does He know so much about the textbook? He’s the author!