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The weight of words

October 15, 2013 — Leave a comment


“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” Markus Zusak

Words are powerful. So often it’s what people say to us that lingers in our minds, nagging away at us and chipping away our confidence. We’ve all been on the receiving end of a cutting comment or an unintentionally upsetting remark – and the chances are, we’ve made a few of those comments ourselves. Words have power.


The Hebrew language has a depth which our tongue can only dream of. There are seven words to describe love, with the three most commonly used drawing distinctions between friendship (raya), intimacy (dod) and commitment (ahava). This allows for intentional use of words to define a situation.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the words we use to define and describe our faith; the language we use when discussing our relationships with Jesus.

In the course of my day I can say I love Jesus, the sun, the West Wing, kiwi fruits and the book I’m reading. I can also hate tube delays, chocolate ice cream and the way a national news story is portrayed by the media.

Two words – love and hate – that we apply to countless situations, to the point where there is a danger they lose their meaning. Do I love God the same way I love kiwi fruits? No. Do I hate injustice the same way I hate chocolate ice cream? No.

Yet the limitations of language mean the lines are blurred.


The question is, does it really matter? Because truth be told, it seems unlikely a whole generation will be able to change the language they use to describe their feelings. Individually, I may be able to adjust what I say, but it will not make much impact on others.

Or will it?

You only have to spend a short amount of time in a group of people to notice certain phrases repeated again and again. Within a small, intentional group, language crosses the boundaries of our own tongues. What we say gets picked up. Repeated. Embedded. Accepted.

So maybe we do need to adjust our language. We cannot create a new set of words overnight, but we can adjust our intention and think about what we say, and how we say it. We can reserve reverence for the things that matter, and disdain for the things that deserve it.

It may not change the world, but it may just begin to change, in a small way, how we talk about God.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling


For years, I’ve led worship in church.

I by no means think I’m amazing at it, and I still have serious doubts about my ability to do it, but it’s what I do. The reason I do it is because I meet God most through worship. It’s always been that way.

Part of the reason I love to lead worship is because I long for others to meet with God, and if singing is a way in which they can do that, then it’s a privilege to lead them in it.

Lately, however, something feels like it’s been missing when I’m leading. In fact it’s not only leading, but when I’m being led as well. For a while, I thought maybe it was something I was doing wrong – making too many mistakes, trying too much or too little.

Put simply, I’m struggling to meet with God during worship.

I can’t put a finger on why. I’ve been through all the obvious options – I’m not trying hard enough (or at all), I’m worried too much about the music and not enough about the One to whom I’m singing. And I feel like despite all my efforts, despite my longings to meet with God, it’s just not happening.


Initially, I didn’t know what to do with this situation. Singing has always been my connection with God. I love reading the Bible, praying and learning about him, but worship has always been it for me. So to see that bridge begin to crack and falter hurt and worried me.

However, a while ago I suddenly started to see God and recognise God’s movement in other things, other creative outlets which I had not really tapped into before. For instance, I became very aware that God was speaking to me through what I was reading – not only Christian books and blogs, but the novels I was reading as well.

The same thing happened with poetry. Which is odd because I’ve never really read poems. Now, I read a dozen or so a day. Some about God, some not. Not all of them leave me on my knees in awe, but I’m certainly seeing God’s character through different mediums now.


My worry with all of this was that I’d have to stop leading worship. Not so much because I enjoy being at the front (although most worship leaders will tell you they fight a constant internal battle to make sure it’s not a performance, and I’m certainly no different) but because I believe God wants me to lead worship, and I believe he still wants me to, despite these struggles.

The more I think about the this season, which I’m still very much going through, the more I think there’s been a reason for it.

As is always the case with God.

I’ve found him in different places, discovered different ways of expressing my creativity. Perhaps the lesson has been that sometimes I need to break out of the mould, and not simply rely on meeting God through worship. That will always be a part of my relationship with him, but I think he’s telling me that I need to be cultivating other parts as well.

And so whilst I’m sure this will be an ongoing process, I’m starting to see spring appearing. Buds of different flowers I’ve never seen before. A different perspective.

In it’s own way, it’s extremely exciting.