“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:12-14
Even as a child I knew the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” was total blather. Very early on I learned that sticks, stones AND words had potentially deadly and destructive power that could cause pain that I wanted to avoid. Although most people who knew me were not aware of it, I distanced myself from much of “life” in an attempt to protect myself. As years passed, I became aware that the fruit of distancing had a high price of its own: loneliness and a fear that seemed to compound itself. My protective “shelter” became my prison. I wanted freedom . . . but every attempt I made seemed to only accentuate my loneliness and fear.
It wasn’t until years after I gave my heart to Christ that I was freed from my self-made prison. It was only as I actively chose to trust the Word of God over my old ways that I was granted the freedom I desired. An important aspect of my gained freedom was the discovery that sticks, stones and words in Christ’s hands could be used in wonderful ways to BLESS rather than to CURSE. I discovered that whenever something is torn down in Christ’s economy, it is removed to clear a better place to build. “Sticks, stones and words” in Christ’s capable hands can be used to BUILD amazing and wonderful structures that surpass our human imagination.
A Short Story ~ A Big Lesson!
- There are some seasons in life that are harder than others. Looking back, one of the harder seasons in my life took place when we had two teens and one preteen living at home (so much for the wisdom of “family planning!”) My husband was away on trips a lot, so I felt alone and worn down. I was increasingly convicted that the arguments that seemed to be occurring more and more frequently between me and my children needed to stop . . . but how? I tried to hold my tongue but my temper seemed to bite through those attempts, making things even worse. I finally got so desperate that I began to pray. . . .
- As I prayed, I admitted how I had contributed to the problem: my defensiveness, fear and pride. I also confessed my anger and resentment at my kids for “making me angry.” (Blame-shifting is never pretty!) After I finished praying, I did not have a “game plan” but I had peace in my heart. I trusted God would help me as He saw fit.
- Opportunity to test my conviction (and peace!) soon came in the form of another argument. When I realized what was happening, I “put on the brakes!” and stopped talking. After a minute that felt like an eternity, I saw my teen looking at me like I had three heads. I remained quiet a moment and then out of my mouth came, “I love you.” (I was sure my teen saw three more heads emerge!”) I continued, “I love you and WE love the Lord. What we are doing is SIN and it has to stop. If we can talk about this later without arguing, I am willing give it a try. But for now, this has to stop.”
- The interesting thing was that as I said, “I love you and WE love the Lord,” I felt my heart softened. I realized that I had been looking at my child as an adversary, but what I desired was to be a BLESSING. To continue in the direction we were going was to be CURSED, because that is what sin does.
- From that point on WE were changed as a family . . . the arguing lessened, I learned to pray more and gave thanks to God for His faithfulness in freeing me to love my family better.
No matter where you are today, be encouraged friend, that God is entirely able to bring blessing out of whatever “sticks, stones or words” that were ever thrown your way. No matter what the motive of the “giver” may have been, our freedom and blessing lie at the foot of the Cross of Christ. It is as you trust in Christ to help you release your fears (or whatever else that has you in spiritual bondage) that your life will begin to freely reflect His Glory. Believe me, He is worthy of our trust. How to begin? Join me by giving thanks!
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3,4