Over the last few Sundays, we’ve been talking about the Book of Revelation. We’ve used the language about opening other people’s mail and how we are only seeing a small part of the message that was originally intended for someone else.
That got me thinking about the words we say to one another, how they are heard, interpreted and received. One of my love languages is words of affirmation and so, if you have written me a card or letter over the last 2.5 years, know that I read it, treasure it and save it to read on rainy days when I am discouraged or worn out. There is power in our words, both spoken and written down.
A few years ago Ryan and I started a new tradition with our children, a tradition that we hoped would spark words of love. Emmaline is 7 and Charlie is almost 5 and we read a lot to our kids and they like to read to each other. I would like to think that we speak words of love to each other, as husband and wife and to each of them, our children. We aren’t perfect of course, but we do try and model gentle language in our home. And so every year at this time, when Valentine’s Day rolls around again, and we feel the same pressure to buy and spend, we’ve used the holiday of Valentine’s Day to actually Shower our children with words of love. Below you’ll see two pictures from yesterday morning. Late Monday night, we cut out colorful hearts, and wrote phrases of things that we love about each of our children on them. The kids had so much fun waking up yesterday morning and seeing them all over their door. Emmaline was able to read the majority of her hearts, but Charlie needed some help. As I read each love note to them, their smile widened, bigger and bigger as they heard words of love poured out on them. Isn’t it a beautiful feeling when we hear that we are beloved and treasured by someone else?
Now while I would agree that a lot of the Bible is hard to wrestle with and needs to be studied in community with others, I would say that if you look close enough, you can see words of love from God back to us. They may not be words that you would find in a Hallmark card, but they are words, nevertheless about God loving us and wanting God’s best for us. They are words about sin and redemption and sacrifice and hope. They are words that give life, and a deeper meaning than what our culture can offer.
When you read Revelation over this next several weeks, look for the words of love and encouragement. In the letter to Pergamum, from Sunday, the words of warning don’t sound loving, but they are the cautious words of a parent warning you not to fall into the wrong crowd at school. They are the encouraging words of a coach or music teacher that sees how hard you are working and doesn’t want you to give up your talent or your instrument. These words in Revelation are the words of a tired parent of a toddler that wants them desperately to listen and pay attention. Words that sound harsh, but when read through the eyes of a loving God, are actually full of hope.
As you read and study this book in community, my prayer for each of us is that collectively we look for the words of love that are being poured out on us for the sake of the church.