Horsetail rushes are the “corduroy” of the garden. My Dad used to call them fiddlesticks, because of the noise they make when they rub together. “Scree, scree, scree!”
Some of the sounds of the garden are not as harsh. The White Pines near the deck take the wind and turn it into soft whispers that can be imagined as words of comfort.
Then there is the constant chatter and song of the ever-present birds. Our previous residence was an apartment, and our bedroom window faced a parking lot. The first morning we awakened in our present house was heralded by the song of birds outside our window. The smile that crossed my face and embedded itself into my heart has never left.
Birdsong will always soothe my anxious thoughts as I remember Psalm 94:19;
“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,Your consolations delight my soul.”
What about the sounds we make, and the words we use? How are they received?
Unfortunately, it is not always our words that cause others to feel troubled, sad, angry, or afraid. Many times the emotion is on the part of the hearer more than that of the speaker.
Many people, for instance, are not soothed by the songs of birds. “There they are, just about to mess up the paint on my car!”
“Those pesky birds are eating my raspberries again, before I can get to them,” is another unappreciative refrain.
Why the differing reaction to the same sound?
The gospel is a case in point. When Stephen preached to the mob that ultimately stoned him, they were “cut to the quick.” When Peter preached basically the same message to a crowd in which 3,000 souls were later baptized for the remission of their sins, they were “cut to the heart.”
It seems like the word “cut” would be a negative, but in the case of Peter’s preaching, the people responded in repentance, not vengeance. Both crowds were accused of being a stubborn and rebellious people. We cannot fault Stephen for his “poor delivery.”
Many a preacher has been told what a terrible job he did with his sermon only to have another person two minutes later tell him that it was exactly what he needed to hear.
Our words will not always be received favorably, and that is an unalterable fact. Another unalterable fact is that we can always improve on the way we say things. What’s the remedy? Shall we refrain from speaking about God until we have improved to the point of perfection?
No, that would result in lost opportunity. God has a sense of humor, even when he is serious. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” Clay pots are so commonplace, cheap, fragile, and a little ugly. Sometimes they fail.
Our words will fail us, too. This “treasure” should not stay sealed up in our hearts, as if they were the Dead Sea scrolls being preserved for future generations. No, our vessels – our bodies and minds – are here on earth for a very short time.
We can and should keep on studying with fervent hearts to know God’s word better and better. We can keep praying for wisdom to speak, and opportunity to share the Good News, even the parts that don’t seem good.
But like the rustling of the grasses or the songs of the birds, it may be received differently depending on the ears and hearts that receive it.
Even Moses decried his lack of eloquence (Exodus 4:10).
Keep speaking the truth of God’s saving love!