We have a blind dog. I’m talking completely, 100% blind. Cannot. See. A. Thing. Bless her heart. It is amazing, though, to watch her navigate her surroundings without the use of her sight. She knows where the water bowl is. She knows where the doors are that lead out and can find her way back to them when she wants to come in. She has only gotten lost out on the property once when she followed the sound of me and the other dogs out to the chicken coop and we forgot she had come with us. She works in 90 degree angles most of the time following the sidewalk, the lay out of the furniture, the doorways. She has a couple of favorite spots and she can find them without fail. It’s fascinating to see her begin to lift her paw a bit higher when she knows a step up is coming. Her paths are well-worn and automatic to her. But, with 3 other dogs and 4 kids walking those same paths, they are not always unobstructed. You leave one football on the ground, one tennis shoe on the step, one sleeping dog in the way, and my poor blind girl will trip. Not only that, she will turn back, now confused about the direction she is heading. Her paths are well-worn but they are easily altered.
I am continually convicted of my well-worn words. (I was going to write “I have been convicted lately,” but that’s a lie. Continually convicted is the truth). You know the ones? They come out of your mouth without thinking. They are your automatic response. The words you do not contemplate. The words your mouth seems to find without trying. I am not simply taking about R rated language here, I am not speaking of gossip or slander. I am talking about the words you continually declare over yourself, your life, your circumstances without a second thought.
Let me give you an example… Multiple times a day I catch myself saying, “I’m so tired.” I am so tired. Am I really so tired? I mean sure, I get up well before the sun most everyday. I walk with a dear friend at 6am 3 days a week, I like to spend time in the Word and in prayer before anyone else is up. And once that first bedroom door cracks open, the day is usually a rush of school, activities, housework, shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking, more cleaning. There are animals to take care of and friends to touch base with. There are parties and events and holidays to plan for. There are errands to run and phone calls to make and bills to pay. Sure. But, that is life. That is life for most everyone I know. Yes, by the time the last dish is loaded in the dishwasher, the last little tooth has been brushed, the last homework assignment has been checked, the last story read, I am ready to put my feet up and shut it down. But so tired? So tired all day? So tired everyday? No, I am not. It’s a habit. I assume I formed it when I had 2 babies 13 months apart and never slept for more than 2 hours at a time. The paths were well-formed. The grooves were worn deep. And now I can’t stop saying these well-worn words. Maybe it is, “I’m so stressed out,” or “I’m so frustrated.” Perhaps, “I don’t feel good,” or “I’m failing.” Possibly, “we will never be able to afford ___” or “I can’t get it together.” I don’t know what your well worn-words are but I do know they have power.
One of the most fascinating studies I have ever embarked on was about blessings and curses in the Bible. I had never given much thought to the power of words until then, reserving “blessings” for the dinner table, and thinking curses were a little hocus-pocus. Not according to the Word of God. Do you remember the story in Genesis 27 of Jacob stealing his twin brother Esau’s blessing? Their father Isaac requested his last meal from his first-born son Esau, on his death-bed. While Esau was out hunting, their mother Rebekah pulled her favorite boy Jacob aside and hatched a plan to fool poor, blind Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau. They pulled a little Project Runway and dressed Jacob is Esau’s clothes, even going so far as to cover his smooth arms and neck with goat’s skin so that he felt like his hairier brother. The deception ultimately worked and a suspicious Isaac indeed spoke the blessing of the first born over sneaky Jacob. When Esau returned and Isaac realized what had taken place he said, “I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand.” (Gen. 27:33 NLT)
Why? Why must that blessing stand? Couldn’t he just take it back? At this point nothing had exchanged hands. No property been deeded, no signature had been signed. Just words. Just the spoken blessing. But when Esau begged his father to take it back, or at least bless him as well Jacob says, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine- what is left for me to give you my son?” (Gen. 27: 37 NLT) He guaranteed it with his words. They were binding it seems both in the natural and spiritual worlds. His words held weight, they mattered, the blessing stood, and it altered their lives forever.
There are stories in the Bible where curses stood as well and an almost endless supply of scripture about the power of words. Here are just a few to meditate on today:
- Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Prov. 18:21
- But what comes out of the mouth proceed from the heart, and this defiles a person. Matt. 15:18
- There is one whose rash words are like swords thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18
- I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. Matt. 12:36 (YIKES!!!!)
- For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
- Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
- Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Prov. 29:20
- Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth keep watch over the door of my lips. Ps. 141:3
And on and on and on I could go. So here is my prayer for myself, and maybe for you too… I’d like these verses to be the football left in my path. I’d like to stumble over them as I blindly speak my well-worn words. I’d like to bump into them, and have to wake up, turn around and recalculate what is coming out of my mouth. Instead of “I’m so tired,” I’d like to declare, “I’m so thankful.” Even in my prayers I have well-worn words that may not be what God has for me. I pray everyday, “Make me strong.” Maybe He is throwing an obstacle in the way so I will get out of my rut to pray, “make me soft, make me compassionate, let me hear, let me see.” If words matter and blessings (and curses) stand, then I assume that as I declare over my day, my body, my home “I’m so tired,” I will in fact be so tired. If you declare that you are so stressed, poor, sick, frustrated, depressed, then I can only assume, with the Word of God as my witness, that no matter what your actual circumstances are, you will in fact be stressed, poor, sick, frustrated, and depressed.
Here is something I have noticed about my poor blind dog’s well-worn paths. No grass grows on them. They are dead. If we stay in a rut for too long it will get deeper and deeper, taking us lower and lower. No life. Just dirt. Are you inadvertently heaping dirt on top of yourself with careless, well-worn, habitual words? Wouldn’t that be a curse really?
I can study The Word daily, I can boldly use my words to pray big prayers, I can hope to write Words That Matter and put it out there to all of you, but maybe all of these words get lost in my well-worn words. Can you hear me from down here in this rutted path? Evidently I’m the extremely tired one. (Insert eye-roll). Habits are hard to break. They say you can’t teach an old (blind) dog new tricks. Don’t believe it! Join me in praying that God lovingly throws an old shoe in our path and stops us short before we keep on speaking those destructive, life-sucking words over ourselves. They will stand. A new path might be just what we need!
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14