I’ve been thinking a lot about words lately.
You know the line: “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Well, my words have practically disappeared.
Anyone who has endeavored to learn a foreign language understands the feeling well. You begin a sentence, and halfway through…there just isn’t……the word……you’re wanting……
It’s laborious, really, and very frustrating for whoever you’re talking to! But for you, well it just about drives you crazy! You feel like you can’t tell stories anymore, crack jokes, or go into detail about much of anything. But worst of all, it’s so hard to express yourself.
I am four years into learning French (in case you think that is sufficient, I can assure you I need about 10 more), and although my self-expression is much better than it used to be, unfortunately, much of the vocabulary and nuances of emotions and deep conversations have escaped me.
I get stuck in meaningful conversations wondering if I said what I meant to say or if they understood something else completely.
Worse yet, my profession IS words. I have been sent to minister the gospel—to speak of our true, living, beautiful God and the sacrificial act of love and forgiveness and propitiation (try saying that in French!) that His Son accomplished for us. Now how in the world do I explain that? I ask myself this question more than once a day.
My life can feel like a wordy wrestle.
But one day–this was probably two-and-a-half years ago now–I was on the train, making my way to class. I was steeped in failure: sent to preach the gospel and not even able to preach; wanting to evangelize but being too timid to start a conversation. I was grumbling on and on in my head when the Holy Spirit interrupted me.
“But you smell good, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry, what?” I was baffled.
“At least you smell good, don’t you?”
And then this verse in 2 Corinthians 2 came to mind:
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (ESV).
Man, I may not be able to speak, but at least I smell good!
Agreeing with the Holy Spirit helped shift something in me. I am helping to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. I do walk in triumphal procession, aka victory! I may not be able to say everything I want to say, but I am still a light of Christ. My prayers have weight. My daily walk is making an impact. My life has purpose here.
Living a loving, holy life still matters even if I’m lacking the right words. How I treat people–even silently–still matters. Trying to learn their language so I can share the gospel with them in their heart language matters!
You may not have all the words you want, but God will use you. He will help you, He will lead you, He will make you the aroma of Christ for those around you. And in time, as you persevere, I believe He will give you the right words to go with that nice smell you have, too.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 ESV