I was probably 8 years old when my neighbor and best friend, Butch, got into a fight with the two Krum brothers who lived down the street. Their mother ran us off and as we were leaving the boys called us some pretty ugly 22 words of lovenames. Together we shouted back, and kept it up all the way up the block until out of hearing range, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” As I grew up I learned that sometimes words can be very painful and the harm they do to your soul can be worse the pain you’d get from a punch in the nose. But at that age a punch in the nose was never preferable to being called some stupid name by some insensitive kid. However, when words are spoken from someone very important in your life, like your parents or teachers, priests, spouses, and others they can do great good or great harm.

When God speaks, His words bring order out of chaos. They bring time and space together. The bring lights in the sky, oceans on the earth filled with fish. They bring trees and skies filled with birds. They bring hills, valleys, mountains teeming with life of all kinds. God’s words bring life. But when God’s words are rejected, refuted, denied, ignored, or contradicted they can bring great harm. Since the people of Judah spoke out against Jeremiah’s divinely inspired prophecy, he tells us in Jeremiah 5:14, “Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.” But Jeremiah’s word from God to us, is not God’s final word.

For fifty-seven years, Steve Henning of Huntley, Illinois, could not hear music, laughter, or human speech. Even though he lived a full life, he still longed to hear the voices of those he loved. In the winter of 2001, he learned of a surgical procedure that would allow sound waves to bypass the nonfunctioning part of his ear and travel directly to the auditory nerve. On January 30, he was operated on. After several months of healing, Steve waited nervously, as the audiologist programmed the cochlear implant. Then he invited Steve’s wife to say something. Pat Henning leaned toward her husband and gently said, “I love you.” Able to hear for the first time in six decades, Steve’s face broke into a smile. The first words he heard were of love.[1] I remember in the 60’s before the BeeGees went all disco, they had a series of quiet love songs. One that I remember was titled, “Words.” The chorus went, “It’s only words, but words are all I have to take your heart away.” Jesus is the Word God spoke to take our hearts away. I wish everyone could hear it! I wish there was an operation that could be performed on all those who can’t hear it! Can you hear it?

[1] Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 261–262.