Yesterday, I had to take Margaret back to campus, a 90-minute drive. During the trip, I was listening to ESPN Radio. ESPN was getting ready to broadcast a baseball game between Baltimore and Boston at Fenway Park in Boston. Part of the discussion was today’s running of the Boston Marathon. This is the first running of the marathon after the bombing at the conclusion of last year’s running.
As I was listening, they were replaying some of the interviews with those who were there and close to the explosion. And that is what caught my attention, and one comment in particular, which set me to dwelling upon something. One person, who was close, said something like this: “God was taking care of me because I didn’t get hurt.”
I guess when I heard this statement, what I heard was that this person’s not getting hurt was evidence that God was taking care of her. If that is the indicator of “God taking care of” someone, then did God not give two-hoots about taking care of three 20-somethings and one 8-year old boy who were killed? Even though she most likely didn’t realize it, inside this person’s comment I see an underlying attitude that it is one’s circumstances and situations that determine whether or not God is “taking care of” someone.
Some time ago, as I was preaching from Acts, I talked about something in chapter 12 that I found quite interesting. In that chapter we are told that the church was praying for Peter who had been imprisoned by Herod, who was preparing to behead Peter, and that God sent an angel to rescue Peter. It is a common view that through this God was demonstrating that He was taking care of Peter.
But what about James? Before we are told about Peter’s miraculous escape, Luke mentions that the Apostle James was beheaded by Herod. If our attitude is that God taking care of me means I escape hurt, injury, or even death, then did God just abandon James and allow him to be killed? And when Peter was later in life executed by “reverse crucifixion,” had God decided that He no longer cared about “taking care of” Peter? Or how about any of the other Apostles or martyrs for the faith?
Hearing this woman’s quote reminded me that we must be careful in how we say things. Our word choice can oft-times reveal what our true attitudes and perspectives are concerning different things, even if it is one which we do not truly realize we have. What must be remembered is this: our language can be a window into our heart. Jesus said in Matthew 15:17, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.”
Our word choice has an ability to reveal our true attitude and perspective on things, situations, and people, and God as well.
The longer I’m in the pastorate and the longer I really reflect on different things within the church (how we say things and how we do things), I am coming to the conclusion, more and more all the time, that it is common for people to say and do things and not truly realize what could potentially, albeit unknown or realized, be the attitude or perspective or its foundation.
This whole thing, over the past few years, has really driven me to examine and understand what my choice of words are truly saying and revealing about my perspectives and beliefs. And I’m sure it will continue.