About two months ago I was having lunch with a friend who wanted me to try out, in his opinion, the best biscuits and gravy in Orange County at a little place called the "Snooty Fox". Because I was not counting calories or grams of fat at the time I accepted without hesitation. As I was shoving the food down my throat with the excuse that I wanted to finish these little teasers of heaven before my actual meal came, he asked me, "Aren't these biscuits....AMAZING?".
There it was. That boring, overused word that has become the adjective of choice within my inner circle. Even with my dislike for the way we use the word so shallowly, I still find myself using it at times even if it has been my pet peeve over the past six months. "No", I replied to his question, but I'd say they are "Ama" (pronounced 'amay'), you know... about half way to 'amazing'." With a confused look on his face, one that clearly showed his inability to decide whether to laugh or be insulted, he quickly asked what I meant. I responded that I didn't mean to offend him, but that I've grown tired of our lack of creativity when it comes to words within our "Christian" culture.
The importance of our words in Scripture is seen numerous times. Their importance, power and influence (see Proverbs 18:21, James 3, and Luke 6:45 along with so many others) have the ability to give life or give death. I went on to say that when we pay no attention to what we say, letting our mouths run on auto-pilot we take God's word lightly. If there is importance in every word that rolls off of our tongue, then why do we pay such little attention to the detail of our words. Then, being the brat that I can be, I defined the word "amazing" for him according to dictionary.com. It means, "causing great surprise or sudden wonder." In my opinion, if biscuits and gravy can give us the same response as having a baby (clearly amazing) or accepting God's grace (which we sing is "amazing") then we have lost our sense of awe and wonder. A sense that young children have, and Jesus encourages us to mimic.
The conversation then blossomed into a discussion about what truly is "amazing". We came up with things like our ability to create (which in my opinion is what makes us most like God) through mediums like art, architecture, music, poetry. We also brought back the discussion of how a newborn and God's grace are truly "amazing". Knowing that I like to share my life in Christ on this blog, he then asked if this topic of discussion would become an entry. I answered with a resounding, "I hope so" expecting to write it about it within a few days. However, because of the busyness of life, I failed at that attempt. When asked why I hadn't written, I told him the truth, I hadn't been inspired to write about it yet, letting him know that once God gives me a reason, I will put my fingers to the keyboard without question.
Fast forward to this past weekend when God would inspire me to write about my biscuits and gravy. The inspiration came from my trip to "The Garden" in Long Beach. As I mentioned in a previous entry, one of the most beautiful aspects of my visit to this community of believers was that the Gospel, The Kingdom of God, was being preached unashamedly. The message being taught was taken from the "Sermon on the Mount" and dealt with making vows. It wasn't fluffy. It wasn't geared towards making a better individual in Christ, but instead was being taught in a way that would greatly increase the power of the body (which is another reason that I know the Spirit was leading that service). In a nutshell, the message, which was thoroughly researched and prayed over, dealt with the importance of our words. It dealt with followers of Jesus, not needing to "swear" by anything because a word coming from a person who has the Spirit of God in them has nothing to prove. Ironically, the message touched on how we use words to impress others and even more frequently impress ourselves. Many times we feel the need to "swear" by something because we cannot be trusted. In the same way, we use words like "amazing" and "awesome" in order to describe something we want others to see the same way we do.
If you are offended by this, then I'm missing my mark. In no way am I trying to tell people to never use the word "amazing". But I am saying that we need to pay more attention to what we say and why we say it. Are we using these words because they are truly how we feel or are we saying these words to make us feel better about our experiences? Are we trying to make others like the things we like by puffing up an experience, or are we possibly trying to make others think "highly" of us for finding something that is actually "amazing"?
I believe these are all valid questions for a person who follows Jesus. Too often we want people to see things how we see them, or to find us cooler than somebody else because we know where to find the most "amazing" food or clothes for example. When we are doing this, we are finding our worth outside of God. The way we use our words always speaks to something rooted deeper within us. Instead of using our words to allow the authenticity of our lives in Christ to flow out of our mouth, we many times, use words to create a fake excitement, make others jealous, make us feel better about what we're doing and actually reveal a strange insecurity about own life. I'm not urging you to drop words from your vocabulary but I am asking you to check the deepest parts of your Spirit to see why you feel the urge to market your life by using words that should be saved for the greatest gifts and delights from God. When we are able to allow the Spirit of God to take over our life, we come to find out what the word "amazing" truly means.
P.S- To my friend I had lunch with, I hope to have some REALLY REALLY good biscuits and gravy with you soon. This is also a disclaimer that I in no way thought you were insecure about how good these biscuits of gravy were. Instead, as creatures and habit, as well as being tired and lacking creativity, we used the word "amazing" for something that was truly "ama".
P.S.S- I am not blind to the fact that God's hand is in everything. His gifts and delights can be in things both big and small which makes Him (not the gifts) "amazing". But quite often, instead of thinking about what God's gift really means to us, we instead call it "amazing" to our friends and run off like that's a thank you note to God. Instead of taking the easy way out, knowing that he is the giver of every good gift, do Him a "solid" and use the blessing He's given you, to bless someone else without using words that may make somebody feel below you.