My Bumbling, Fumbling Mouth Again

The wrong words emerge from my mouth all the time.

I have many friends who don’t share my faith. Several, in fact, who believe it’s pure nonsense to believe in Jesus. It’s an open conversation with most of them – none of us hiding our stand.

One girl is given to sarcasm about the church and not a little eye-rolling. Her go-to faith, in rocky times, (besides trusting in the goodness of humanity and the wisdom of her political party) is to knock on wood and cross her fingers.

I joke with her when she does it. “That table is laminate. Does the god of laminate have jurisdiction over natural disasters?” or “Will your fingers need to remain crossed for the duration of the political campaign or is that a time-release finger cross?”

She receives my comments well and has no problem answering with snarky commentary on the foibles of Christians in the news.

Recently, however, my friend faced a serious concern over a family member. I noticed her nervous demeanor and when she told me the worry she was facing, my heart panicked for her.

What I thought was: “How does anyone who doesn’t know God face that kind of fear without Him?”

What I said was: “Oh no! That’s huge, and all you have is that finger-crossing, knock on wood thing!”

It used to worry me, no end, that my mouth was so prone to fumbling the ball, until I learned it’s my heart that makes the calls.

I spent too many years trying to control my words, when God kept pointing to my heart, asking me to expand His residence there. Far too long, I left Him standing in the foyer.

Once I opened the door to other rooms, He filled them with light and the real clean-up He began, reducing my worry about what might fly out the door of my mouth at any given time.

Although in retrospect, I’d find another way to express what I did, my friend took no offense. She knows my heart. In fact, she crossed fingers on both hands, and then looked at me as if to say, “Yeah, it’s really not going to do this time.”

I asked if it would be all right if I mentioned her family situation in my prayers. It was.

My heart hasn’t always had compassion for others, especially for those outside the family of faith. In my younger days, I don’t believe she would have sensed any love behind my words, only judgment or a sense of superiority. I didn’t put that love for her in my heart, God did, when He moved in and got rid of some of the things that made room for it.

And I wouldn’t always have had the courage to offer to pray, especially not to someone who thinks my faith is archaic and evidence of a weak mind. God supplied that courage through years of hanging His Word on the walls of my heart, His home.

Through years of trials, He’s made His presence known to me in such powerful and practical ways, I cannot imagine how others endure hardship without Him. That is the thought that sparked the flash of compassion causing words to erupt in the moment with my friend. How, how will my friend ever endure if her only hope is the god of knocking wood, who is no god at all?

Human language is evolving. We have all kinds of words to describe anxiety, gender, political leanings, and sexual preferences and acts. I wonder if the church is so distracted by this, we’ve reduced our efforts to describe our great God and the excellence of His presence in our lives.

Of course, it’s important to speak up on social issues, but more important, each generation must find words to describe the wonders of God. I believe a new generation is discovering hymns because the hymn writers did this so well.

Frederick Martin Lehman is not a man of my times, but his words resonate with me. “Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry, Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.” (The Love of God)

Chris Tomlin is a modern worship songwriter who works to describe God. How Great is Our God is a powerful testament to who God is. But, the people we love who don’t know God, won’t likely hear that song, so it’s on us to find ways to describe Him.

The key is that it’s not really about finding the words. It’s more about opening all the rooms of our hearts to God and then throwing open the front door of our mouths without fear.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

As we worship this weekend, let us immerse ourselves in God. Let us invite Him to expand His residence in our hearts. Let us remember how good He is, how powerful, loving, creative, and kind.

And when we emerge from worship on Monday morning, let us open wide the doors of our hearts, so others can know Him, too.

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    The Conversation

  1. Lyneta Smith says:

    What a fantastic reminder! Thank you for pointing this conversation where it should be: on the heart.

  2. Heather Marsten says:

    I smiled at how you’re dealing with your friend. I’m enjoying watching God work in a situation I’m in. I’m writing a memoir and taking a writing class. Most of my classmates are new agers – do not believe in God. I’ve been in this class for a year and a half now and they have gone through chapters of the abuse I received as a child, my pagan/witchcraft/voodoo and therapy years. Now I’m in the Christian part where I get healed and they are having to help me edit those chapters which means they’re hearing some Gospel teaching. Some tell me they like Pastor Don because he’s always telling me God loves me. Others say they don’t like him because he doesn’t pull punches. Forgiveness of my abusers caused an hour-and-a-half discussion after class with my teacher dealing with her forgiveness issues, and others also reacted that they found it hard to forgive those who hurt others. They don’t fully get how I could give up the glorious occult for Christianity. Our class recently started for the Fall and some new members were in attendance. My teacher gave a summary of my book and as an illustration of how writing can uncover surprising conclusions she used my book as an illustration. In one chapter I was wrestling with where was God in the midst of my abuse and when I got healed enough to know Him, He let me see He was in the nots – what did not happen – I did not get pregnant with my father, catch a social disease, go insane, etc. The teacher explained this to the class (she remembered it after a two month break) and I saw one of the students do a double take. She had to leave early, but I’m hoping to strike up a conversation with her. I love how God can reach the lost. I know it’s possible for He reached me after I spent 40 years avoiding Him.

    • Such a powerful example of exactly what I pray people are trying to do – give voice to the wonder of a life with God. Of course the occult looks glorious because we’re allowing Hollywood to tell our story without our input so they flatten our faith while inflating the alternatives. I’m humbled by your example. Carry on!

  3. Meredith says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Lori. God pointed to my heart recently as I found myself responding with frequent irritation toward one of my kids. I was simultaneously overwhelmed by the impossibility of changing my own heart and also filled with relief that I know the God who specializes in changed hearts. I’m sure glad He’s patient (and that my kids are forgiving of my shortcomings!)

  4. Jann Butts says:

    You hit the nail on the head, Lori! In more ways than one.

    Having gone through — and am going through right now — difficult times myself, watching people who do not have relationships with God fills my heart with sadness. Life verges on the impossible at times even with God. Not having the assurance He is walking through the deep valleys with you has got to be even more devastating. What hope is there when there is no hope in God?

    We have to show God’s love, not just speak it. “Talk is cheap” comes to mind. If all I do is talk but don’t actually help someone who needs it, my words are worse than useless. We have to be God’s words and hands and feet.

    Thank you very much for an AMAZING blog!! I’m looking forward to reading the next Hobbit disturbing message. 🙂

  5. Lori, Thank you for your honesty. I have a friend in my life who does not believe. She says Christians are hypocrites and brainwashed. I keep showing her the love of Christ. Prayer is my power to go forward in the love God put in my heart for her. Thanks again for the reminder.

  6. Lori, Thank you for your honesty. I have a friend in my life who does not believe. She says Christians are hypocrites and brainwashed. I keep showing her the love of Christ. Prayer is my power to go forward in the love God put in my heart for her. Thanks again for the reminder.

  7. I come from a family of Talkers, who use words more to hurt and control than soothe and heal. So I’ve verbally charged in where angels fear to tread way too many times, often saying strange, abrasive things before I even notice.

    But now, after decades of being loved and protected and taught by our incredible Abba, I know He’s The “God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness”, and He will not forsake His children! He has taught me to pray for His prompting, and I ask Him to shut my mouth when there’s something I shouldn’t say. He’s stopped me many a time, and I’m so grateful!

    Yet, sweet soul, do not forget that He made you the way you are, and He will use you for His pleasure and glory. So, pray for “promptings” and trust Him, then just go out and honor our King Jesus with your wonderful words, spoken and written. We need those who are brave and fearless and, even, not very self-conscious to “gossip God” and be used by The Beloved Spirit to say what needs to be said without fear!

    Keep up the wonderful words, precious Forever Sister! I, for one, really need to hear them! <3

  8. Well said, Friend. You can keep bumbling and fumbling as far as I’m concerned. <3