Yesterday I read a blog post by my friend Peta that reminded me of two things that are critical for me as I seek to live for Jesus here in Japan:
The power of joy
The power of words
You see I’ve been in Japan for just over a month now, and the long-termness of my stay here has sunk in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the edge or anything, but life here can be tough. The Japanese language . . . goodbyes . . . natto. It’d be easy to be cynical. Especially if you’re me (but more on that some other time).
So the words of Peta’s blog struck me something mighty. Actually the title by itself struck me,
This was the reminder I needed. That the fight for joy involves a choice. A choice to rejoice (sorry I didn’t intend that terrible rhyme!).
It was a simple message. After all it was only a blog post. About 500 words. I doubt it took Peta more than an hour to write. And yet there was power in those words to keep me going in the fight against cynicism.
And this is not the only experience I’ve had of the power of a few words. These last few weeks I’ve received a number of e-mails from different friends that have contained powerful words. Words that have guided me and spurred me on. Just e-mails. Simple, brief, and generally with sketchy grammar. But with words that have kept me going.
Because we often think that the only words that can stop a disaster, or motivate someone for adventure, are epic speeches, right? We think in order to fire people up we need to quote the Lord of the Rings or something.
But it is often the simple daily reminders that keep us on the straight and narrow.
Think of your car sat-nav: which instruction is the most important?
OK sure, if you miss the turnoff from a motorway it is more annoying than if you do the same on a normal road, but you get my point, right?
It’s the gentle “Keep going straight” that encourages us that we’re on the right track. And the quiet but firm, “Perform a U-turn when necessary” that stops us from continuing in the wrong direction.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself”
“Isn’t Jesus awesome?”
“Praying for you”
Simple words. But sometimes that’s all we need: clear but gentle reminders to keep on keeping on. To keep fighting the good fight. And to do it with a happy heart.
The post Peta wrote was actually inspired by another blog. That didn’t reduce its power. Because the power of words doesn’t come from their originality, but from their truthfulness. The call to “rejoice” was not a new idea for me. In fact, none of the words that people sent to me were really original. They didn’t have to be. They were reminders of truths that I had taken my eyes off in the business of life.
Not that I’ve been particularly busy. I don’t think busyness is a necessary requisite of forgetfulness – being human is enough for that. I think that’s why the Bible is so full of the same things being said over and over again. And why the apostle Peter wrote to the first bunch of Christians,
“I know you know this stuff, but I’m going to keep reminding you of it until I die.”
Because joy in the Lord Jesus gives power to pour out your life for the sake of others. And that joy can come from a handful of words.
But enough from me: what about you? Have you ever experienced the power of a few simple words?