So … it feels like it has been an eternity since I have written. But, I am huge proponent of meaningful communication. I have never enjoyed talking simply for the pleasure of hearing myself speak. Life has been busy and there are times when you just have to ‘be still … and be quiet … and know that He is God’.
The book of Ecclesiastes tells us:
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven …
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak …
Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7
Now is not the time to be silent! There are a great many injustices taking place in our nation and throughout the world. However, those are not the issues I am addressing today. Today, my focus is not at global or local level. Today, the focus is at an individual and personal level. Sadly, there are too many believers trapped in an existence of mediocrity – silenced and suffocated by the cares of this world.
Why is this so when Scripture tells us not to be anxious for anything (Phil 4:6-7) and reminds us that the power of life and death is in the tongue? (Prov. 18:21)
Could it be that we have forgotten to use our words?
I recall when my children were little – particularly my youngest son – and he would sometimes get cranky and want to whine or point at things rather than speak. Despite him being all of two years old, I would firmly remind him: ‘Use your words …’ At times it would frustrate him – especially a couple of years later when he struggled with stuttering for a while. Yet, I knew that it would never be sufficient for him to settle for anything less than what God had created him to be. He is a world changer, full of purpose and powerful in prayer. Each of my sons has such a significant call of God on their life. They give me great joy – most days. Yet, if I am honest, there have been times when I have regretted ever telling them to use their words … because sometimes the words are either not as nice as they could be or they challenge me. However, many times, especially in the past several years, it is not their voice that has been the cause of struggle – it has been my own. The realization became strikingly tangible with a dream I had about a week ago.
In this dream, a tremendous ‘force of darkness’ – for lack of a better word – pounced on me and began to wrestle me to the ground. In the dream, as I felt darkness surround me, I immediately began to call out for my sons. I called out for my oldest and then shouted out to the others … I cried and cried. Yet with each shout for help, that dark force dragged me closer to the ground and squeezed tighter … zeroing in on my throat and choking the air right out of me. I began to call out ‘Jesus!’ ‘Jesus!’ ‘Jesus …’
With each outcry, the grip became tighter, the voice became weaker until it was a strained whisper … ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’. As the darkness suffocated me, I continued to strain to call for Jesus … until my voice was gone. Yet, still determined to resist the stronghold around me and to break free, I continued to call out to Jesus, mouthing the words, without sound … shouting on the inside. Then I woke up …
My heart was racing … my chest still pounding.
I was quickly aware that this was no ordinary dream. The struggle was and is real. And, like I used to tell my son when he was just a small little guy, the LORD was reminding me: ‘USE YOUR WORDS!’
He firmly reminded me that salvation does not come to those who place their trust in man. Yet, this is what I was doing … in the dream … when I called out for my sons. And isn’t that what we do sometimes? We’ll run to friends and family, pastors and psychotherapists, looking for assistance. Yet all we need to do is cry out to Jesus … to keep proclaiming the truth of His Word … to our circumstances and over our lives. [See Psalm 20]
Further, if it was not enough for Him to remind me in the dream, He sent two sisters in the LORD to pray with me at church this past Sunday. I truly do not know either of them well. We have had casual conversation in between services at church. Yet their prayers were so specific, it was as if we were the best of friends. Perhaps because my best companion, the Holy Spirit of God, lives in them too. Then one of these spiritual sisters, Maria, proclaimed, ‘Something is trying to silence your voice. You cannot let that happen … worship the LORD … in your home, in your car and on the job. Your victory is in your worship of the LORD’. It was powerful because she knew neither of the dream or the tremendous circumstances I have been enduring.
In my book, When Storms Rage, I explore Twenty-one Principles to Keep you Anchored Through Life’s Toughest Moments. One of those principles reminds us to ‘Speak to Your Storm’. In discussing the importance of remaining vocal, I note:
‘It is often in the midst of the storm where we have a tendency to lose our voice. Our once bold declarations quiet to a whisper in response to all that is screaming around us. It is during the battles of life that we tend to become muted by fear and confusion … in the moments when it is essential for you to have clarity of mind – it often happens that the noise and distractions of the storm rage fiercest. There are those times when an unrelenting surge of activity abounds in your direction, to instill fear, to detract and deter, to distract and destroy.’
Yet this does not have to be our reality…
My friend, I implore you, just as God did me … Use your words!!!
It is not what we know that changes our lives, it is what we put into practice. And the LORD God Almighty has commanded us to speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19) … and to our storms with authority (Mark 11:23).
I like the Message version of Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7:
‘There’s an opportune time to do things,
A right time for everything on the earth …
A right time to shut up and another to speak up.
Now is the time to speak up.
Boldly declare God’s truth over your life and to anything that would seek to choke the life out of you, to anything that would strive to silence you.
Speak the Word of God, focusing on Scriptures which command you to be courageous (Deut. 31:6, Joshua 1:9) and which remind you that He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Is. 41:10)
Sing His praises – breaking out your favorite song or creating a new one of your own. (Ps. 96:1)
Cry out to Jesus, inviting His overwhelming presence and awe-inspiring power into every circumstance that troubles you. Surrender to His authority and watch Him silence your enemies (Psalm 143).
Victory is closer than you think … right at the tip of your tongue!