In his book The Ledge, author Jim Davidson recounted the story of a climbing accident he experienced in 1992. He and his friend climbed Mt. Rainier and, on the way down, the two climbers fell 80 feet through a snow bridge into a glacial crevasse. His friend and climbing partner, Mike Price, died on impact. Davidson tells of how he stood next to his deceased friend and remembered the words of his father. See, Jim’s dad had shown undue confidence in his son. He had employed him, believed in him, and encouraged him. With minimal gear and no experience in ice climbing at that level, Jim spent the next five hours climbing out. In his book, Jim tells of the way that throughout the whole ordeal, he kept recalling the words of his dad. And five arduous hours later, thanks to his father’s words, Jim climbed out of the crevasse to safety.
Words have the ability to shape worlds. Like seeds, they get planted inside of our head and heart and eventually they bear fruit. They can make us believe or doubt, flounder or flourish, fail or fly. The scriptures speak very poignantly about the power of words. Listen to the way James 3 recounts the expulsive power of the tongue. He wrote, “A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! (James 3:3-5, The Message) A word can accomplish nearly anything, or it can destroy it. A word can either make a life or destroy a life. Wow! That’s quite a drastic statement.
Researchers have found that on average, 16,000 words come out of your mouth every day. That adds up to a gigantic 860.3 million words in the average American lifetime. How are you using your words? How are you leveraging the power of the tongue? Gossip, slander, hatred, and condescension have the ability to destroy. But on the other hand, phrases like “I believe in you” or “I’m with you” or “I appreciate you” have the ability to cause flourishing and vitality. What a gift we have at the tip of our tongue.
Take some time today to encourage someone. Maybe it’s through a written note or a text message. Maybe you could set up time to go on a walk or have lunch with someone. Whatever you do, take the time to speak life into them and trust that God will use it to encourage them.
Pastor Ryan Paulson