When I re-read yesterday’s blog this morning, I had to do a little editing. Changed one word which had been left stranded and lost because I had changed the sentence in mid-stream. Another where I had used precisely the opposite word to the one I intended.
You may have read the blog and not noticed. That’s because we can more or less guess what something is going to say. In fact we rely on such ‘higher order’ reading skills – we don’t read every letter in every word, and we don’t read every word in every sentence. We leap ahead until we have got enough to make sense, and then on to the next word or sentence. Occasionally we trip up, and realise what we have read doesn’t make sense – but it’s easy enough to go back and see what we have missed.
I really enjoyed Pete Rollins book ‘How Not to Speak of God.’ My kind of title, my kind of book. He argues gently but genuinely that we can never contain God within our words, but our words are adequate to point to the the reality we encounter – as long as we remember they are limited, and not the same thing as the God we know.
Using words to describe something is like a sculptor revealing the statue within the block. Some words get close to the actual surface and shape, others we realise are far off the mark – but if we keep our eyes on the subject, the right words come. We recognise them.
And it’s like prayer. We need to wait on God as we pray, let the Holy Spirit guide our eyes and give our tongue freedom to speak. To watch as the words point to what it is our heart wished to declare before God. Speaking and listening.
If you have the gift of praying in tongues, then you will be used to this discipline. Paul does exhort you to use words in this way – to prophesy – which is a word we shouldn’t be afraid to use, or something we should be surprised to find ourselves engaged in.
It is about speaking the spiritual truth under God’s discipline.
And that is a gift for and to the church.