I may have told you about one of the most powerful illustrations I have ever seen being used in a talk. I was in Glasgow in a meeting where several people were sharing their stories of the reality of poverty. One young man talked about how he had missed an appointment in connection with a benefit claim. As a result he was invited for another meeting and told that he was being “sanctioned.” Effectively this mean no money for several weeks. As he recounted the story, the young man picked up a snow globe and shook it so that the “snow” was whirling around wildly and haphazardly. “See, when that word “sanctioned” was spoken, this is what happened to my mind.” He went on to describe a near breakdown, because of that word and the fears it released. As the “snow” settled, he shared with us that his mind was more settled now, but then he shook the glob again ever so gently, to illustrate that chaos and panic were easily revived by the slightest nudge.
Why have I told, or perhaps retold that story today? Well, I felt there was a blog I was to write today, but to be honest it has been a day of low energy and meandering thoughts and I have struggled to write it. I have not managed to pray today without instantly falling asleep. I have no idea what I read in the bible this morning. Indeed I had no idea ten minutes after I read it, so I cannot share something of the Word that has struck me. Yet, the pressure was there, in a good sense, that there was something to be said. I was left with no other resort than to simply ask the Lord what I was to write.
When I asked that question, it came to mind almost instantly that the Lord wants to speak to some of us whose lives are being held captive to a word, literally a word spoken over us by someone. It may be a word that they spoke about us, about our circumstances, about our looks, our personality, the effect we have on other people, our ministry, our health, our background, our future; on and on the list could go.
Draw that word out of your thoughts and take a look at it and ask some questions:
Why does that word still affect me so powerfully in a negative way?
What did the person who said it represent to me? Why did it wound me much more that it was said by them than it would have done if someone else had said the same word to me?
What part of your growth as a person and as a child of God has been stunted by that word? Where did it rob you of a right sense of confidence
I feel I want to leave it there, rather than pass too quickly on to talk about the way to victory over this. Sometimes we step in too quickly to comfort, instead of allowing the distress to crystallise past an emotional release to the place of insight. We offer consolation instead of allowing someone who is hurting to do some valuable thinking for themselves and coming to a place of better understanding about what is really going on within them. Anytime I have talked over anything that is distressing me with another person, which I confess I am very slow at doing, I find that the people who help me the most are the ones who say the least and just allow me to do my own speaking and thinking things through.
So have a think about that word that is still like a barb in your mind and heart, that seems to be so susceptible to being painfully tugged at intentionally or unintentionally by others or life experience.
One word of advice: best not to think too long or you will manufacture a problem that you don’t have! If that “word” does not come to mind almost instantaneously, then this blog today is not for you in a particular way. Be very glad about that and pray for those for whom this might be, at least in part, a life giving word from Jesus.