On Finding the Right Words: “May my speech distill as the dew”

Photo: morning dew on a web

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
    and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
 May my teaching drop as the rain,
    my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
    and like showers upon the herb.
 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    ascribe greatness to our God!”

  “The Rock, his work is perfect,
    for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
    just and upright is he.”

(From the song Moses sang to his people before he died, warning them not  to forsake God. Deut. 32)

An organized person having a disorganized experience

Photo: log rail fence in the Kootenays

“I’m never going to be organized.”


Well, I asked the Lord to show me the lies I have believed and the first one cropped up whilst going through a file of my recent photos which included this one. (Huh. So that’s where I filed it.) I can give you a lot of historic evidence upon which I have based this lie, most of it embarrassing, but the truth is that by assuming this statement to be correct I have placed a fence around my future, based, not on faith, but on disappointment with the past.

A friend challenged me to examine my words this past weekend. Profound in a simple way -the really profound stuff usually is.

Can you imagine a child telling herself, “Tried walking. Didn’t like it. Fell down -more than once. I obviously do not have the gift of walking. I’ll just have to bum scoot my way through life. Someone else will have to do the walking. My gift is laughing hysterically when somebody blurbles my belly. I know how to bring cheer to the YouTube masses with my charming blurble-induced guffaws. I’ll just stick with that?”

Just an example. Blurble my belly and you’re a dead… I mean you will not be blessed – at least not by me – although I have been known to laugh hysterically with the kind of snorting laugh that is funnier than the original joke. I’m not a delicate giggler. Decorum is not us.

Oh dear. Is that a lie too? This brings other lies to mind. I’m not a runner or a dancer or a carpenter. I have no entrepreneurial skills. I am just your average starving artist (metaphorically speaking -in real life- -huge effort at being positive now- I’m a yet-to-be-discovered, pleasingly plump, deliciously dimpled lateral thinker).

Note to self: The thing is that when a you are convinced you are not a runner, or capable of earning more than survival wages you tend to stop trying. In fact you will go so far as to sabotage any budding talent in that direction. You’re building limits on your God-given potential like thick log fences around your future.

Renewing the mind. OK. I am not a disorganized person. I am an organized person having a disorganized experience. Write that down and stick it on the fridge, Charis.

Now where did I put my pen?

Use your words

I heard a newborn baby crying in church. You know, it was a sweet sound. The mom had a difficult delivery and it was such a blessing to see both of them happy and healthy.

Some of the kids turned around to see what was wrong — or to see how long the baby was going to get away with this. I felt like explaining to them that crying is the only language babies have and it doesn’t always mean they are in pain, or even that something is wrong.

Then the Lord spoke to me in my spirit and said, “Sometimes people cry and whine because it’s the only language they have.”

This came up in the context of praying about how to respond to people I care about, but who cry and whine a lot. (OK, I’m one too). Sometimes I feel like a mom in the kitchen at 5 o’clock with a whimpering baby demanding to be picked up and a whiny toddler demanding immediate satisfaction and an older child groaning about being asked to set the table. I get frustrated and I am so tempted to snap at them using a less than kind tone myself.

If a child is never spoken to she will never learn to use words. If a child is only criticized he will never learn to speak positively. Children learn by hearing, or by watching in the case of sign language, and then by being given opportunities and encouragement to practise their new skills.

Sometimes, like my three toddler grandchildren, we need to be reminded to use the skills we are gaining. Frustration and whining decreased when they learned the signs for milk, please and thank you. Now they are starting to talk, and the oldest one is being actively taught to use kind words by her parents who have instituted a time of blessing every day. Even the 18 month old is learning to say, “Nice, smart, kind, strong.”

I wonder if some people cry and protest a lot because it is the only language they know. I wonder if we need to teach people how to gain new ways of expressing themselves. I wonder if we need to speak more kind words to them.

I wonder if my prayers would be more effective if my first response to Abba’s requests was not a groan. (Although admittedly there are sometimes in prayer when there are no words, and only a primal moan will do.)

I wonder if we need to be very understanding of those who only have the language of crying.

I wonder if we also need to seek the Lord for discernment and wisdom as they grow to recognize the time to start withholding gratification and to say, in as kind and patient a voice as we can manage, “Use your words.”

I wonder if God sometimes withholds gratification until we learn to communicate respectfully with an attitude of trust and appreciation –to help us mature. I hear him say, “Use your words, honey.”

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:6


I had a good friend, the adult son of a pastor, who told me he perceived God as saying, “Love me or die.”

Then he added, “I’d rather die.”

Yes, he was the son of a pastor and spent many hours sitting in a pew hearing the words about God — but he also had a parent who put a knife through his hand rather than have him use his considerable musical talent to “play worldly music.” To him (and to many others) God was a sad construct of his abusive parents. We do tend to create God, if not in our own image, in the image of authority figures we have known, good and bad, from detached irresponsible fathers who went away to physically and emotionally abusive mothers to indulgent Santa Claus-type grandfathers.

I think the way we hear words someone says depends on how we view the person who speaks them. For most of my life I heard God’s words as disapproval and laying down impossible expectations.

These same words, “Do what I tell you or you will die,” have completely different meanings dependng on whether you perceive the person speaking them to be a rapist with a knife or a rescuer hanging by a rope from a helicopter.

For years reading the Bible, at best, felt like reading a phonebook from a city I had no intention of visiting –meant for someone else. At worst it felt like reading court documents listing the charges against me.

What I never realized was that the judge loved me enough not only to hang from a helicopter to get me out of a certain death situation, he hung from a tree. He said, “I love you so much I’d rather die than be without you.” So he did –and then conquered death so we could be together forever.

I am adored by the King of the Universe who wants a relationship with me. He invented love. Heady stuff. I hear his words differently now.