A couple of weeks ago we were cruising around New Zealand and had the opportunity to see some of its wonderful scenery. I can never gaze on such beauty without being awe struck and without being reminded of the creation story. Genesis tells us that “God said … let there be light … let there be an expanse between the waters … let dry ground appear … let the ground produce … let there be lights in the sky … let the waters teem with living creatures and the land produce living creatures.”
God spoke the world into being. That’s such an amazing truth! With words, God created the world and He saw that it was all good. And when I see it I, too, think it’s wonderful and I give thanks for it. Creation has the power to inspire, to lift one’s spirits, to draw one to God.
However, a couple of days later we drove into Christchurch and saw the devastation done by the earthquake in 2011. Having been to Christchurch a few years before that and seen what a beautiful city it was, I could hardly believe my eyes. The landscape, once gardened, picturesque and elegant, the buildings, including this once beautiful cathedral, were completely ravaged, not to mention the terrible loss of life and livelihoods. And so I was reminded that the same creation which God spoke into being and saw as good, has become flawed and broken. Now creation has the power to destroy, tear down, devastate. When we see first-hand or on TV what havoc can be wreaked by earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, tornedos and volcanoes, we see how all the earth is groaning and suffering, waiting for God to liberate it from the sin that also has mankind in bondage.
Just as sobering is the thought that God made us in His image and the power of our words is also an awesome thing. James reminds us that because we are also flawed and broken, now even our tongue, though a tiny part of our bodies, has such potential for harm. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. … With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness. (James 3).
So like creation, our words have the power to lift the spirits of others, to encourage, inspire, to draw others to God. But sadly in our brokenness, we also have great power to destroy, tear down, to devastate. I think this is true whether it is the spoken or the written word. I believe this is an awesome responsibility for an author, for the written word will be there for others to see and be affected by long after we are gone. Our written words may spread well beyond the influence of our spoken words, as important as they are.
How sad is it to see people reading material that leads them in wrong directions, morally, spiritually, relationally. We see how some words can spark off a ravaging fire of self-harm, prejudice, cruelty, immorality and selfishness – just as devastating as an earthquake.
Yet we also have the power with our words to do such good, to leave a legacy of encouragement, to build others up, to inspire, to show the way to God and everlasting peace and beauty. What a privilege.
May this be a year when we all consider every word we speak or write, that each one may contribute to the glorious calling we have to be God’s people in the world.
Carol writes historical novels based on her family ancestry in Australia from the First Fleet. They include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novels, Suzannah’s Gold and Rebecca’s Dream have been re-released by EBP. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website