The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.
I Samuel 3:19
I used to love the sound of the school teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. All you could hear was the teacher saying "wawa wawa wawa" in different tones and pitches. It was a tribute to the authority figures in our life that continually speak to us, but their actual words have lost their vitality and potency. I think Charles Schultz may have been alluding to something much greater. In the 1960's through the 80's, many of the authoritative institutions were viewed with suspicion rather than honor. The government, the church, and even our cultural icons were viewed as possible agents of propaganda, rather than providers of community and traditional wisdom.
Yesterday, I flew from Baltimore, Maryland back to Rochester (and man, my arms are tired!). During that flight, I watched as the Flight Attendents gave the safety instructions. As they talked about emergency exits, safety protocols, government mandates, and evacuation plans, most of the people aboard simply ignored them. Flyers were engaged in conversation with one another, reading USA Todays, or sleeping.
I know that many of you who are seasoned flyers may say that you have heard their words many times and thats why you ignore them. Indeed, that may be the cause, but I think there is something else going. Something a little more subtle.
I believe that an atmosphere of fear has caused us to tune out the legitimate messages of concern. We are inundated with messages of fear everywhere we go. In the airport, I watched the TSA agents tell an 84 yr old man that they are confiscating his mouthwash because it was in too large of a container. We all nodded in agreement, after all, he could be the next great terrorist. As I entered the airplane and went to my seat, my seat neighbor clutched her purse and put her Ipod in her purse, even though she was still listening to it, after all, I could be a thief. At the hotel I stayed at, there was a party. I spoke to a couple in passing (Have a great evening!) and the man of the couple decided to mean-mug me (stare at me with a frown long after we had spoken), after all, I may be trying to get his girlfriend or wife. Turned on my TV, and immediately heard an ad telling me that there are people in Congress who want to take away the healthcare of the elderly. All fear based stuff.
I believe the key to powerful communication is making a connection based upon life giving words. It is such as refreshing contrast to hear how to live, as opposed to avoiding death. This was the essence of Jesus' message. He gave blessings and ways to live in blessings, as opposed to focusing on what needed to be avoided. This is why his message was received so powerfully as opposed to the Pharisees and their strict religiosity.
It is not a coincidence that the most common commandment in all of scripture is anyone of the variants of "Do not be afraid" (fear not, Be strong and courageous, Do not fear, etc). It is fear that makes us numb and keeps us self-centered instead of God-centered.
Take time to analyze your words today. Do you speak life, hope, and healing or fear, worry, and loss? Is your life based upon avoiding fear, or living free? Is your faith based upon fear (I just do not want to go to Hell) or life (I want to live life fully according to God's purposes).
I pray today that you will speak life and that unlike the flight attendent, none of your words will "fall to the ground".
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor