What Did She Say?

Communication Miracles for Couples.  It’s the Way You Say It.  Strategic Management Communication for Leaders.  Nonverbal Communication.  What Every BODY is Saying.  Communication Skills for Dummies.  A quick search of Amazon on “communication” yields over 326,600 results.  And that is just in “Books.”  The titles promise me easy fixes to life’s problems, especially in my relationships.  If I can only figure out how to make myself clear to others, assert my point of view in positive, relatable ways, and interpret others’ communication accurately, then I will be happy, successful in my endeavors and fulfilled.  From home and family to work relationships, the world I live in struggles with communicating.

In the very beginning, Satan used this human conundrum to confuse Eve.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.  And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”  The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Genesis 3:1-5

Eve quickly and easily repeats God’s instructions about what they are allowed to eat.  God tells them they should not touch the tree in the middle of the garden, much less eat of its fruit.  So, Satan in all of his craftiness, couches his lie among truthful, but incomplete, logic.  The lie:  “You will not surely die!”  The truths:  “…your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  The omissions:  They were already closer to God than they ever could be, more like God than they ever would know otherwise.  He was their companion, walked with them in the Garden.  To know good and evil meant they would have to commit evil and separate themselves from God.  Eve’s mistake:  taking God’s instruction out of its proper context–the context of God’s overwhelming love for her and Adam, the pinnacle of  His creation.  Because she chose not to trust God’s love but chose to entertain the serpent’s appeal to her lust and pride, she and Adam lost everything.

Communication for me is always a challenge.  As an introvert, I mentally and emotionally process on an internal level before communicating about anything.  Most of my blog posts are days in the writing and even more days in the formation before the writing.  In high school, through a wonderful teacher I learned to enjoy the craft of writing.  But it does not come easily.

I am learning the limitations of the written word.  Writing is sometimes without an accurate context, two-dimensional in its presentation.  As Eve found out, context makes a huge difference.  So often in modern society, context is omitted from quotations, making a speaker seem to say one thing when they are really saying something else.  As a writer I view what I see and read and experience through a lens built by my life experiences, my personal context.  When I was younger, I had a very simple lens with narrow focus.  As I grow older, my lens becomes multi-faceted, sometimes making my ‘sight’ prismatic, creating great difficulty for me to find any sort of focus.  I write what I ‘see’ through my lens, or personal context, and anyone who reads my writings does so through their own lens.

I find it very interesting that God would choose to reveal Himself primarily through two-dimensional written words, knowing that man would fall because he forgot the context of his existence.  Would man not continue to forget God’s overwhelming love in two dimensions, when in three dimensions he already proved this weakness?  By His great wisdom, God also revealed Himself through His Son.  Jesus is called The Word, the living, breathing incarnation of God’s will, a walking Bible.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.   John 1:1-3

So, God gives me His written word, the Bible, and He gives me the living example of His will, the Word–His will in both two and three dimensions.

When I write personal communications, I attempt to add texture to my writing.  I use descriptive words and punctuation and the fashionable emoticons to relate my meaning in three dimensions, to give depth and breadth and feeling to my words.  When I read a personal communication from someone, I find myself looking for the context, reading between the lines, to properly interpret their meaning.  I am sometimes a frustrated reader, especially if the note is from someone I do not know well.  The likelihood that I will misinterpret the writer’s meaning is high in such a circumstance.

When reading God’s Word, I sometimes feel a similar frustration.  To know the context of words written thousands of years ago is daunting.  Yet, God knows us well, knows what we need to properly ascertain His meaning and His will.  In Exodus, He gives us a chronological account of His leading the Hebrews out of Egypt toward the Promised Land.  Then, in Deuteronomy He includes Moses’ recounting of the journey (Deuteronomy 8-10) and how the memory of that odyssey is to be used as motivation to obey God.  One of the psalmists gives another rendition of God’s leading Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness in Psalm 106, adding more texture and more relevance to the already ancient story.  In the Gospels, God gives us four accounts of Jesus’ life on earth, four perspectives written for four different purposes–depth, context and texture for comparison and proper interpretation.

I cannot approach God’s word frivolously and expect to understand it.  He wants me to read it, study it, meditate on it, apply it.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16, 17

I know God wants me to understand His will.  He goes to great effort to show me His context.  He adds depth and breadth and feeling to two dimensional words, allowing me to know clearly what He wants me to know.  His Son, by example, shows me how to find Him in my daily life.  His Spirit guides me in my quest for knowing Him and His will.  My job is to want to know Him.  I need to come to His word with a pure heart and a mind open to learning what is true about Him–through a simple lens that does not distort–keeping paramount in my mind the context of God’s overwhelming love for me.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

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