By Campus Missionary Mary Rowley
Once while in college, I went to my roommate’s door and asked her if she wanted to go drop something off at the chapel. Rather, that’s what I wanted to say, but what came out of my mouth was, “Hey, want to go do the thing?” Luckily, my roommate spoke the language of Mary and knew exactly what I meant. But I bet you wouldn’t have gotten that out of my question.
Words. They mean so much, but if you don’t have the right ones, the meaning can change. Or maybe there won’t be any meaning. I wonder if the Psalm writers ever had that problem. Maybe while writing Psalm 85, they started out with “Lord, you liked us once.” After several stages of revision, they ended up with, “Lord, you were favorable to your land” (verse 1).
We don’t entirely understand how the Bible was written. Did God stand next to the biblical authors and dictate while they wrote down his words? Did they write their own draft and go to him for editing? Probably neither of those were the case, but one thing we do know: the Bible was inspired by God. He gave the authors the words to say.
In addition to the biblical authors, God also gives us the words to say. He knows that we don’t always know what to pray, what to ask for, what to say to other people, so he helps us. He has given us his Holy Spirit so that we know when to ask, “Restore us again, O God of our salvation. … Show us your steadfast love” (verses 4, 7). And we know when to praise him, saying, “Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land” (verse 9). The words to say are an incredible gift to us, who often get tongue-tied. We can thank God for this gift by using it to share his gifts with others.