Gratitude Day 552
Thurs., Jan. 7, 2021
Matthew 11:28-30 – (Jesus said,) “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“As a pastor, there are times when you must know when to stutter,” uttered the seminary professor.
He repeated his words again with even more emphasis. “One of your most important roles as a pastor is to know when it is necessary to stutter.”
While I was in seminary, Lyle was a professor of New Testament studies. In his classes, students studied, discussed, and explored what the New Testament said. We dug into the context in which they were said. Then, the challenge became how might we interpret the words from the Bible into today’s context.
While a student in his classes, Lyle challenged me to think about many, many things. Often, I have unearthed what I learned in his classes and used in ministry. Yet, there is one sentence spoken in Lyle’s class that I most often draw upon. Lyle’s words:
“As a pastor, there are times when you must know when to stutter.”
Words matter. I deeply believe in the power of words. What we say. How we say them.
I am also keenly aware that there are many, many times when my words have hurt others. Sometimes, I am ashamed that I did this intentionally. Other times, it happened and was not my desire. These are the moments in which I am deeply disappointed in myself.
While I believe in the powerfulness of words, a head full of grey hair (that still gets regularly covered) and more permanent lines gracing my face, I try to have more wisdom of knowing when to speak, when to stutter and when to remain silent.
Right now, I have no words. All I can do is stutter because whatever I would say would be incomplete. Inadequate. Not helpful.
Instead, I share the words from someone that I have often turned to: St. Francis of Assisi. The words of a prayer attributed to him have been a constant source of comfort when I lack adequate words. In a time when it is best to stutter, I let his words do the talking.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
For another’s words of peace when all I can do is stutter, I am grateful.
Lord God – Sometimes, our best action when we lack adequate words is simply to stutter. When it feels terribly challenging to find appropriate words, may we turn to those words which bring us comfort. May we be reminded that You are bigger than the challenges that lie before us today. May we find comfort in You and Your words when all we can do is stutter. Amen.
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