A World of Words

Who do we listen to?

Words permeate our world.

Present, heckling voices snatching airtime on social media; momentary conversations over the fence as opinions are exchanged; opened books shout from the past with erudite wisdom, but also postulate the latest theories and philosophies; novelists, poets and songwriters seek to transport us as we listen and luxuriate in created soundscapes.

Our ears are awakened, battered, soothed and excited by voices in every medium, and at varying volumes. But who gains our attention more than others? Who we do choose to listen to?

Choosing whether to listen or not is a common discussion in our household as little boys decide whether to stop hitting one another or accept help manhandling the gallon milk carton to fill their cereal bowl or put shoes on while riding a scooter or a bike!

Recent events, still raging across this nation and the world, have added volume and dignity to black voices. Wrongly silenced, pushed to the bottom of the pile, but now – hopefully – gaining hearings that may bring about change. I’m certainly listening more attentively than ever before, and am doing all I can to open my children’s ears so that they understand truly and fully that we really are all made in the image of God, and so are all equal.

I don’t know about you, but my instagram feed is often a reflection of where my interest, and wisdom-desires, lie at that moment. Endless preschooler entertainment ideas, innovative recipes, fiction book recommendations and a host of Christian writers and bloggers currently populate it, alongside my friends’ and family’s lockdown snaps. While I’m skimming through the images, my ears are attuned to these voices and their wisdom.

But it’s never quite enough. There’s always another person I could follow who might offer more. There’s always another facebook scroll that might give insight. There’s always another book or article that will help me understand the world I live in.

I’m challenged, as I gather voices and try to glean wisdom, by a man called Isaiah, who was writing centuries ago to the people of God. He tops and tails a chunk of his writing in the Bible with a couple of statements about a different, distinctive and satisfying word:

‘The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever’ (Is 40v8)

As I read it today, thousands of years later, so we get a hint of that ‘forever’. But even more so as we get to the other ‘word’ bookend fourteen chapters later:

‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and spout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ (Is 55v10-11)

This word will accomplish that which God purposes, and – as Isaiah repeatedly points out in his writing – that purpose is for people to be gathered into relationship with Him through the saving death of Jesus. He writes an ancient word, found in archaeologically-dug scrolls from centuries before, and yet its purpose is being accomplished even now as people seek to follow Jesus across the world. And it brings sustaining, lasting satisfaction and rest. It is enough.

While I’ll keep listening to the host of voices that populate my world, I’m praying that I’d rest in this voice, and it’s life-giving result, above all else. May this be the ground upon which I stand, and so am able to hear other voices through it’s realities.

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