I feel mighty blessed to share with you the artfully-penned and thought-provoking words of Joanna Oliver, our latest guest blogger.
Say The Word, I will be free, Jesus…..
…..say the Word, I’ll be made whole.
These are the lyrics of one of my favourite songs, from a CD on almost continuous loop in my car. Isn’t it funny (in an observational sense), how one’s ears become sensitive to what we listen to once we acknowledge God as our loving father? I have noticed how all of my senses have altered. I see beauty in most things; I am more attuned to my health and wellbeing and what I feed my body (nutritionally and otherwise); I struggle with hearing profanity and raised angry voices are like the sound of finger nails being drawn down a chalkboard to my ears, nowadays. I am overtly aware of the power of the tongue…and of the fruit I eat as a result! Negativity and drama is magnified in it’s toxicity and I am so thankful that I’m not doing this alone, that I can ask for help! when I am journeying through the wilderness that life can sometimes feel like. This was not always the case; In fact, it was far from the truth I chose to build my reality around. Perhaps this is why the words of this song are so poignant, with their recognition of how held we are in His arms:
“Rescuer…I’m on my knees again. Deliverer, humbly I ask for you to….Say the Word….”
As an academic, words have long been my fuel. I like to research what people say and theories they conceive and I enjoy sharing my learning with others. As someone who guides people in their personal and professional development, I have invested in my craft by reading many books and listening to an array of audio and watching reams of video clips. Throughout my life, with it’s ups and downs, some of them traumatic, the one thing that I’ve gained strength from is my ability to create, construct, deconstruct, imagine and recreate. Recognising that I am a work in progress, honing my skills and building my repertoire has been crucial to this….and it was all down to me. My skills, my ability, my journey. In a quiet, arrogant way, I took the credit for being so resilient and self sufficient; For being a survivor.
Then. The revelation.
Faced with a particularly harrowing situation, that took the worldly wind from my sails and yet simultaneously raised me high into the sky and into His arms, all of the above took on new meaning. In my imagination, ‘letting go and letting God’ was surely going to be a restriction in my life, limiting my freedom and denying me my creativity?
It took a massive paradigm shift, fuelled by faith, for me to admit my own foolishness; for me to acknowledge that I secretly revelled in my belief that I was self sufficient and that it brought with it a certain amount of kudos.
The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7)
In the midst of my despair, as I prayed for guidance and relief, I was able to see my own foolishness….and how much I needed His direction:
Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day (psalm 25: 4/5).
I didn’t know this psalm then but only He could guide me through this particular situation. Only He could offer me comfort. And it has been that way ever since. The word of man (or woman) cannot reach inside me in the way that He does. Yet when we (humans) are seeking our identity, we reach for the resources out there – hoping for solace and salvation; For a light to illuminate the path.
We seek the right words.
There are so many personal and professional development books to choose from and there are many words to consider as we journey through our earthly time. They offer some useful pearls of wisdom, intended to inspire and motivate. Yet none of them so powerfully as the word of God. The bible is THE book; The Word. Yet, in the world of personal and professional development, it is a disguised source of many profit making mantras and models. There are relatively few books that outright acknowledge biblical influence. Conversely, at the core of most self development resources is the promotion of developing self sufficient resiliencies. I’m not proporting that this is wholly wrong. Perhaps though it is holy wrong.
Alongside my newborn faith, I believe that it is up to me to take inspired action, to maintain love in my heart and thus in my world and therefore mindset plays it’s rightful part in this necessary step-change. What is often lacking in mainstream personal and professional development literature is a call to scripture-driven and prayerful decision making. I understand. As a chameleonic person, I understand that it can be a struggle to convey an allegiance to one specific source and that this can compromise the commercial success of a book, programme or project, or whatever form the ‘work’ takes. At this juncture, one would need to ask the question of why? What is the purpose of the ‘work’….what is the desired outcome? I write this reflexively because I have for months ‘been writing’ my book: ’52 ways to Grow Your Colours’, yet it remains only partially written. This is not due to lack of commitment but as my faith increases and I witness my potential and capacity as I follow His Word, I am left questioning so many of the words I can muster. In truth, I wonder why there is a need for a library of books, to which I am only adding, when now I know that all I need to do his ask Him to ‘Say the Word’…..so I can be set free.