Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Words I Speak

“I sure would like to be able to play that piano as well as you can.”

I smiled down at her. It was a grimacing smile...a bit embarrassed that I was being praised. I don’t like being praised, but I am thankful that my piano playing can be used as a blessing to others.

So I prepared to offer one of my usual statements in such a case. Something to the affect of, “well, all it takes is practice!” Or, “I’ve been practicing a long time...I haven’t always been able to play this way!”Other times I might spiritualize my answer to try to get the focus off myself: “I”m thankful that the Lord has given me this ability.”

But before any of these well-practiced answers could pass through my lips, my eyes glanced down to the hands folded in her lap.

Gnarled, twisted fingers.

Some fingers were curled, others slightly bent back. All were misshapen in some way. While they were able to grab and hold onto objects, those hands lack the strength and coordination to even push her wheelchair forward.

What could I say? I couldn’t stand there and tell her “all it takes is practice” when her hands clearly did not have the ability to even strike one chord. Even attributing my ability to the Lord might seem offensive...I did not want to give the unspoken meaning that the Lord had not gifted her.

All of this dashed through my thoughts in the split second I had between her initial statement and my fumbling answer. What could I say?

I mumbled something about how I pretend to play well, and said how glad I was she enjoyed the music. Not the most eloquent moment of my life. Those beautiful eyes, looking up at me, deserved a better answer than that!

In a few moments I left her in her room at the Nursing Home, and headed back down the hall to get my coat. What could I have said differently? Had I been prepared with a better answer, could I have encouraged her in some way?

Proverbs 10:20a says, “The tongue of the just is as choice silver.” Silver is beautiful, valuable - but my words that day were anything but!

The next week as I again pushed her to her room, I was not surprised to hear the same words coming out of her lips. After all, she has been saying them to me most weeks that I’ve been volunteering at her Nursing Home. But this time, I was more prepared.

You see, the Bible gives us the assurance that we can have gracious, appropriate words. I believe it is our duty and privilege to point people to Christ with our lives, and that includes the words we use. I wanted to be an encouragement to this lady, and show her I cared about her...most of all, show her Christ’s love.

“Did you ever play any instruments?” I’ve found that elderly people love to talk about their past...many times they can remember that better than the present! {wink!}

“Oh yes, I always played the organ.”

She proceeded to tell me about the church she attended, and for how many years she had been their organist. The conversation did not last long, and I closed it by adding,

“We can certainly thank the Lord that he has given us both the opportunity to serve Him with music!”

I left her room with a lighter heart. The conversation, though it had been simple and brief, had been much more encouraging and spiritually edifying than my past blabberings. I am thankful that the Lord promises to help us, and give us words that glorify Him!

Friends, are words are so, so important. Are yours honoring the Lord today?

“In the lips of him that hath understanding, wisdom is found.”
Proverbs 10:13a


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