. . . . to know the word that sustains the weary. (Isaiah 50:4 NIV)
Words fascinate me. Back on the first day of 2000, I came across the phrase about how words can sustain the weary. I was a weary homemaker, who wanted to be a world renowned author. I didn’t have the energy to write the great American novel, so I started writing spiritual reflections and sending them out via group emails to my friends and family.
Then I heard about Xanga from my boys, and then later blogspot and wordpress. I dabbled off and on with blogging. Although I still dream about writing that novel, I keep coming back to the amazing truth of how a few hundred words pieced together in paragraphs, and then posted on the internet can impact others for good.
They can provide nourishment for the soul.
Besides writing words, I love to meet other word lovers. A few years ago, when I started blogging regularly, I met Jody Lee Collins through one of the link-ups. We both love the defintions and origins and usage of words. She infuses her words with light, reflecting them brightly at her blog Three Way Light.
Please welcome her today, as she contemplates conjunctions and their use in Scripture.
Parts of Speech—the Elmer’s Glue of Language
By Jody Lee Collins 3 28 16
When I was in Mrs. Jenkins’ 8th grade English class I learned about the power of “glue” words—those little big words that tie two seemingly disconnected thoughts together—like a zinnia in the middle of a squash plant.
Conjunctions are words and phrases like “so that” or “as”. Or how about “yet” and “although”? Small words that can make all the difference in the world in what we read.
Scripture is full of these transitional words—power wrapped up in two or three letters in words like “let” (more powerful than “yes”, in my humble opinion), or “if” (because there’s always a “then”) and the most stunning 3-letter word of all—“but”—and I mean that in the best way.
Paul’s admonition in Colossians is what got me searching out these glue words to begin with. There’s a tall order after this “as” (so many passages hinge on the dime that is “as”)–
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Col. 2:6, 7)
Next is one of my favorite verses about how we then should live with our words and what God expects us to do with them. There’s a “that” AND an “as”, each as powerful as the other–
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, (why, you ask?)
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.” (Isaiah 50:4)
Here is why “let” is more powerful than “yes”:
When we use “let” it’s a way of saying “yes,” AND gives permission to God to work in our life. [There’s a sense of allowing God in.]
“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.” (I John 2:24)
When coupled with an “if/then”–the power of “let” expands our participation.
The glue word “but” provides an opportunity for interjection, a chance for a change of course in what we’re reading. The Old Testament is full of spellbinding stories that lead us to wonder—things look so bad—WHAT is going on? And then there’s the “but God.”
My favorite is the story of Joseph and his brothers. They return to him after abandoning him to die, and as they discover he is now in Pharoah’s house as a ruler, even though they’ve left him for dead, he declares,
“You meant this to harm me, but God has turned it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
There’s a passage in the New Testament where the ‘but’ is an exception word, or contrast word, i.e. This means one thing but THAT means another.
For instance, the passage in James 3:17 recounting God’s tall order for true wisdom—
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason,
full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Of course, the reason for all these words is to reveal, if what we believe about Jesus makes
a difference in the way we live.
They’re all just noise, if they don’t make us new.
That’s a mighty big ‘if’ (see what I mean?)
Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. Photo and “Parts of Speech-the Elmer’s Glue of Language” by Jody Lee Collins.
Feel free to leave comments below.
Jody Lee Collins has known Jesus since she was 19 years old and a best friend took her to Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California in the 1970’s. She and her husband have been married 42 years and currently live near Seattle where they worship at a Foursquare Church. She serves in Women’s Ministry and also on the Worship Team. Her two grown children and five grandkids thankfully live less than three hours away and she hugs them whenever she can.
And just for fun, I (Kel) made a conjunction collage.