It’s a matter of words


By Tim Throckmorton - [email protected]



Throckmorton

Throckmorton


According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, words are a many-splendored thing. For Example, in Wisconsin a bubbler is a drinking fountain, in Tennessee and Kentucky a dry-land fish is an edible mushroom. Heavy rains can be categorized as toad stranglers in the deep south, fence-lifters in the Ozarks. Also, what you call a carbonated soft drink, whether soda, pop or coke, provides a clue about where you grew up. I just love words, don’t you?

I am told that of the over 800,000 words in the English language. 300,000 are technical terms. The average person knows 10,000 words and uses 5,000 in everyday speech. A journalist knows approximately 15,000 and uses around 10,000. That leaves a lot of words that never see the light of day. Words however are very important.

Words are powerful things and can sure cause a laugh or two. Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then lord chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, “Neil!” Not daring to question or disobey the “command,” the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees!

The power of a successfully communicated thought, from one human mind to another, is one of the greatest forces we know. But like the tango, it takes two to communicate. You can communicate a thought, but your thought may not be understood. In some cases, your thought may not even reach the proper target. That’s why it pays to ask questions to make certain that people understand what you are saying.

The great moviemaker, Cecil B. DeMille would agree. DeMille was making one of his great epic movies. He had six cameras at various points to pick up the overall action and five other cameras set up to film plot developments involving the major characters. The large cast had begun rehearsing their scene at 6 a.m. They went through it four times and now it was late afternoon. The sun was setting and there was just enough light to get the shot done. DeMille looked over the panorama, saw that all was right, and gave the command for action. One hundred extras charged up the hill; another hundred came storming down the same hill to do mock battle. In another location, Roman centurions lashed and shouted at two hundred slaves who labored to move a huge stone monument toward its resting place. Meanwhile the principal characters acted out, in close-up, their reactions to the battle on the hill. Their words were drowned out by the noise around them, but the dialogue was to be dubbed in later. It took fifteen minutes to complete the scene. When it was over, DeMille yelled, “Cut!” and turned to his assistant, all smiles. “That was great!” he said. “It was, C.B.,” the assistant yelled back. “It was fantastic! Everything went off perfectly!” Enormously pleased, DeMille turned to face the head of his camera crew to find out if all the cameras had picked up what they had been assigned to film. He waved to the camera crew supervisor. From the top of the hill, the camera supervisor waved back, raised his megaphone, and called out, “Ready when you are, C.B!” No one had yelled “Roll film!”

When it comes to communicating the truth of God’s word and what it means to be a Christ Follower, we cannot afford to miscommunicate! Job said, “Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the fellow who took a seed catalog and started out the door. “Where are you going with that?” his wife asked. “I’m going to show it to my tomatoes,” he explained!… Not sure the tomatoes will take the advice, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

It was Blaise Pascal who aptly said, “Words differently arranged have a different meaning, and meanings differently arranged have different effects.” I desire to speak and bless those I have the stewardship to influence with words of life, wisdom and meaning. I want the words I say to match the life I live. May we all remember that the fruit of our lives grows on the trees of others. I have a little thing I do each morning before my feet hit the floor beside my bed. I recite this verse from the Psalms of David, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Lord… May my words be clear, my walk be straight, and my life be honoring to You! Amen!

Throckmorton
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By Tim Throckmorton

[email protected]