“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:1-5, 14).
Whenever I read or hear someone else read from John 1, I get goose bumps. And I figure I know where I got my love for words.
As humans, we tend to take words for granted, to handle language flippantly, to waste our words, to withhold them, to use them as weapons that can cut as nothing else can. We forget that words can be powerful, precise, and sacred. That they should be respected and used thoughtfully, that even a few words can make our world more beautiful or more devastating. That God himself is the creator of language, the foundation of all words, the source of all meaning and significance. He understands the mysterious power of words much more deeply than any of us do.
Ultimately the holistic nature of God is an almost complete mystery to us. Yet he has chosen to reveal himself in many ways, in terms we can understand. How striking that among these revelations, Jesus is called “the Word.” He is the definitive and final word, the greatest word, the perfect word for all time. He is the precise and clear word, always ready to complete any thought, to explain the unexplainable, to illuminate confusion, or to deepen the mystery.
For a writer, who often searches for the right word and sometimes makes do with inadequate words, this idea is stirring. I’ve always loved what I interpret as a ringing endorsement of the power of words and of the choice to devote my energies to using words well. I even feel a little sorry for people in occupations who don’t have similar revelations to keep them going: Jesus as plumber, stockbroker, or real estate agent. (Then again, I don’t think plumbers, stockbrokers, and real estate agents are generally as insecure about their work and their gifts as writers tend to be.)
This Word has inspired so many other words, all incomplete and inadequate and essentially uniformed in their conclusions because we who are limited by space and time and other constraints we can’t even discern, are incapable of describing one who is limited by absolutely nothing. Words fail us.
And yet even in our inadequacy, writing feels like a holy calling when I look at it in the light of this description of Jesus. My feeble attempts seem noble because they shadow what he has done—written the perfect Word where everyone can see it, in the greatest book ever written, in the story that keeps unfolding, generation after generation. When I add my words to his Word, they matter.
What will come of your words today?
© 2016 Amy Simpson.