I love words. I like combining them to voice thoughts and ideas, finding words with just the right sounds to fit the mood of the topic. Words are meaningful because they impart meaning. These shapes and symbols we have given meaning, sound and purpose to evoke a message and bring images to our minds and spur us to more thoughts of our own.
Words impact me. When I read words, strung together by an author with craft and intentionality, I pause in admiration at the skill and the effectiveness in relaying the thought. I keep them nearby to be reminded how someone else phrased something. I have them on my walls, and in binders, and saved in documents. I collect words, and quotes.
Mostly the quotes are about the Christian life. "The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use." Leonard Ravenhill.
A good chunk of those quotes are on prayer. "The great souls who became mighty in prayer, and rejoiced to spend three and four hours alone with God, were once beginners." Samuel Chadwick
Several speak about the way life is. "Any idiot can face a crisis. It's the day to day living that wears you out." Chekov
Some are just amusing. "Small choice in rotten apples." Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew)
A few are about words themselves. "To find your own writing style, you have to understand and love language. You have to read, listen to, and obsess over words, syllables, vowels, phrases, short and long sentences, the timing of periods, and endless other details." Becky Broadway & Doug Hesse
Words take time. Time to find, use and rearrange. Time to read and soak up. Time to record and remember. You can't slop them together and expect them to resonate the same way. And how unfeeling to gloss over all the hard work of others.
So I collect quotes. And I write.
But I found Philippians 3:8-9 this week, and I'm having trouble coping.
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For this sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness form God that depends on faith."
Now, what am I supposed to do with that?
Count everything -- even literacy-- as loss because it's more worthy to spend my time getting to know Christ Jesus my Lord? Surrender the time spent reading and writing and obsessing over words to the more worthy cause of gaining Christ and being found in him?
(It's true that I'd survive just fine without reading. It's also true that the world doesn't need another book. It already has over 22 million.)
God, give me grace, because I don't know if I'm ready.