To Speak or Not to Speak…Should I Answer That Question?

This week I’ve been attending an annual conference of Christian university students as one of the visiting speakers. The theme of the conference is ‘God Speaks’ and there has been a lot of speaking about God speaking – a lot of words about his words.

I’ve been driving to and from the conference each day, listening to ABC radio – listening to a lot of people speaking about what others (mostly politicians) have spoken.

This morning I was asked to speak to some of the students at the conference about my life and work on the other side of the world. I, a former Arts student, was very much aware that I was standing in front of 100 students from the Science Faculty of their university. My words and their words could quite possibly be considered different languages! But we seemed to understand each other pretty well.

One of the things that has impacted me this week – ‘spoken to me’, if you like – has been the way that speech, what we say and how we say it, highlights experience and wisdom.

One of the secondary aims of the conference is to allow students opportunity to gain experience in leading and speaking in group settings. While those of us with more experience in these areas are mostly required to sit quietly and let others have a go, it has been heartening to see the students gain confidence, not just in speaking words but, as they speak, being more confident of the beliefs and truths they are speaking out loud.

It has really struck home to me this week, how important it is to speak out what we believe, to hear others speak, to respond to them in speech. Coming from one who tends toward verbal processing, this should not be a new revelation to me! I’ve certainly had to do a lot of work over the years, learning to listen more than I speak; to sit back and give others a chance to think quietly before they feel confident to speak. But in the end, speech is important. Words are vital. Communication depends upon it.

I guess that’s why talk-back radio is so popular. It’s a chance for people to speak out what they believe or, for those less inclined to airing their views on national radio, to send in a text message or email containing their words.

There was a question asked in one of the seminars this morning, and the speakers up the front took a while to think about their answer. I so wanted to speak up! To speak about the words I’d heard one older and wiser speaker share last year – words that would have answered the question. But it wasn’t the time for me to speak. And, with time, the speakers up the front spoke.

Later, two students approached me with ‘many questions’, they said. Yet, words failed them. They couldn’t, at first, give words to what they wanted to ask. We stood in silence for a while. I spoke first assuming they wanted to ask follow up questions about my work on the other side of the world. I should have stayed silent a little longer. Their questions were a follow up to the question that had been asked in the previous session. They had no idea that I might have had an answer – an answer that I’d heard from someone else. But I was able to make a start on helping them with that answer. That moment was the right time for me to speak.

What were they asking about? With reference to the previous session about the Psalms in the Bible, they wondered if it was OK to say or sing the words of the Psalms if we didn’t feel like the Psalmist felt when originally writing it. Essentially, can we speak something as truth if it doesn’t feel like our truth at that time?

We agreed that often actually speaking the words themselves, wrapping our mouth around words we wouldn’t have first chosen to utter, can do a great healing, transforming work in our hearts. As we speak, things change. The words we speak have power.

All this has impressed on my heart again, how wonderful it has to worship a God who speaks. He has spoken his word to us. We have it to read, on each and every page of the written word, the Bible. As we speak those words out loud, to ourselves and to those around us, ¬†things change. Speakers and hearers change. We’re challenged, sometimes comforted, sometimes left feeling uncomfortable. But never left left unchallenged or unchanged.

God’s word never changes…but it sure changes those who speak it and hear it spoken.

The Month of June with Shazzameena

A few of the blogs I follow have been doing a ‘What I did/read/didn’t do in June’ kind of post the past few days, and it got me thinking. What did I do in June?

I could list a whole load of things I didn’t do in June – things I cancelled, postponed, put at the end of the list. I could list lists I didn’t even get around to making!

I started the Photography 101 challenge in June…then went on holiday away from technology that would allow me to post my photography. Thus, I dropped the ball on that challenge, photographically speaking.

I was reading the Bible this morning and was reminded not to worry about the things I can’t do anything about. Not to worry about tomorrow, or yesterday, or the things I didn’t do last month. The notes I was reading alongside reminded me to be like Jesus, to stop and notice the flowers and how they’re dressed. To take time and hear that well-fed bird flapping past me.

Sky, Sea, Grass, Flowers

Sky, Sea, Grass, Flowers

So I’ve taken a little moment, looked at my diary, made some notes, done a bit of remembering, and I’ve come up with a list of things I did in June – things I have every reason to be thankful for – to stop for a moment and enjoy – just as Jesus would.

1. I started the month singing with a Jazz band at a fundraiser night in Wollongong.

Empty Jazz Cafe - later filled

Empty Jazz Cafe – later filled

2. I turned up to work as I was meant to – then enjoyed the break I got because the students were doing exams then on vacation.

3. I walked with several old friends and coloured in more streets on my walking map.

4. I got help from people who know what they’re talking about, and started to see lighter days ahead.

5. I saw ‘The Mafia Only Kill in Summer’ at a lovely, local cinema with a lovely, local friend.

6. I enjoyed the generosity of a friend’s holiday cottage for two nights in the Blue Mountains – with the company of a lovely, old friend.

7. I got my hair cut.

8. I completed the ‘5kg lost in 2 months’ challenge – and celebrated with a favourite food item.

It has to be pink. It has to be from Donut King.

It has to be pink. It has to be from Donut King.

9. I had a lovely holiday with two lovely friends in another cottage loaned to me by other lovely people on the South Coast.

Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk

Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk

10. We walked for 4 hours on one of the days!

Reassuring signs along the way!

Reassuring signs along the way!

11. We managed to walk the three sections of the ‘Minnamurra to Gerroa’ walk – over three days – with the vital accompaniment of dates and water.

Dates, Water and Water

Dates, Water and Water

12. I cooked one of the recipes from one of Margaret Fulton’s Cookbooks – inspired by the challenge on the Cookbook Guru blog.

Margaret Fulton's Lime Grilled Chicken

Margaret Fulton’s Lime Grilled Chicken

13. I read some books (and rated them):

‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman (5/5)

‘True Word for Tough Times’ by Dale Ralph Davis (5/5)

‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers’ by Tom Rachman (3/5)

‘The Rosie Effect’ by Don Tillman (4/5)

14. I took risks! (not my normal mode of operation)

Risks!

Risks!

15. I enjoyed many a crossword and coffee

Coffee and a Crossword

Coffee and a Crossword

And shall continue to do so….