When someone threatens or injures (emotional or physical) someone I love and care for, I experience severe and disruptive vibrations at my core. If I am not stable on the rock seeking Him, the rapid shift of my foundation can cause a swift degradation of my circumstance and condition. The tremor is an internal indicator that I am relying on my own strength and am guiding myself. Proverbs 3:4-8 tells us “4-5 If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. 6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. 7-8 Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom. Instead, trust and reverence the Lord, and turn your back on evil; when you do that, then you will be given renewed health and vitality.” (TLB)
Recently, my business operations were reviewed by outsiders. Leading up to and during the review, I stood ready to answer any questions they had as I know every contour of the operation like the back of my hand. The thing I was not ready for was some of the cutting words a reviewer levied upon my colleague and friend. The words left my colleague feeling like actions or inactions on his part would cause us to fail the review. In a sermon from a year ago, I learned that we must THINK before we speak. Before we say anything, we must ask if what we are about to say is: Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. To the extent that any one of the five elements is missing, silence is the best way forward. I don’t believe the reviewer was aware of the acronym and perhaps he was not aware of the power of the words he spoke. He hurt my brother and I didn’t like it! His words loosened the rubble beneath my feet and the instability rippled throughout the day. However, Hawk Nelson gives us perspective and leads us in the right direction with Words: “Words can build us up. Words can break us down; Start a fire in our hearts or put it out. I wanna speak Your love; Not just another noise. Oh, I wanna be Your light. I wanna be Your voice. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You.”
When we allow events to shift us from solid ground to sinking sand, we get distracted, lose sight of our goals and begin taking matters into our own hands. We become self-reliant as we begin to do it our way. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: …a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods;…cutthroat competition; …a brutal temper;…small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival…I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (MSG)
And that is exactly what happened when I learned about the reviewer’s words. I got angry, questioned the team’s motives, gloated in their lack of technical accomplishments, pondered the possible sanctions against them, boasted about our successes, pitted my organization against theirs in an artificial competition, and viewed them as the enemy. Fortunately, prayer and 24 hours of reflection allowed me to regroup and climb back to solid ground. Sidewalk Prophets reminds us in The Words I Would Say, “From one simple life to another – I will say come find peace in the Father. Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things. I already know God’s got his hand on you so don’t live life in fear; forgive and forget but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray. Thank God for each day. His love will find a way. These are the words I would say.”
So…, when someone misunderstands the power of spoken word or knows it but intends to use it to hurt others, what is a proper response? When we feel unsettled, upset, alarmed, or distressed by the way others use or abuse language, how do we maintain an even keel? In instances such as these, praying and surrendering our circumstance to Him must become second nature; otherwise our path will quickly become uneven or turn to wet cement. When the ground rumbles as the earth quakes and we realize we are standing on sand, our reactions cannot be to reach for the control switch. We cannot grasp at the lever that steadies the platform we are standing on. Going for the handle attached to the helium valve that shuts off the air lift, causing a slow enough decent that those in the carrier are not sufficiently alarmed about the imminently approaching ground, is not appropriate. Leaning towards the button attached to forty feet of detonation cord, without regard for who is in the blast zone is not how we are called to react. Instead of clearing the entire deck in an explosive way, providing constructive criticism and dismounting with grace are alternatives. A volatile reaction illustrates ego-driven self-sufficiency that lacks faith and trust in Him.
The experience made me question whose favor I was seeking, God’s or man’s? Why was prayer not my immediate default position? Why was I so ego-driven when my goal is to serve Him? Where was my instantaneous surrender?
In the end, we were successful in the review. The reviewers finished out the week without too many more negative words or incidences. The vibrations I experienced were positive and good because they brought me back to these truths:
- God is our rock – Stillness with Him quiets the quakes
- Trust in the Lord – Seek Him first
- Prayer is the vest of tranquility – In Him we find peace
- His grace is our forgiveness – pass it on
- THINK before speaking – words can be exceedingly helpful or heartbreakingly hurtful
In I Will Not Be Moved, Amy Grant reminds us, “I will stumble, I will fall down, but I will not be moved. I will make mistakes, I will face heartache, but I will not be moved. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. I will not be moved!”