The Gift of “The Word”
by Darla Isackson
Christ, “The Word”
Being a lover of words, it intrigues me that Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this month, is called “the Word.” In the 1st chapter of St. John, the heading begins with “Christ is the Word of God.” Verse one says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” 1 John 5:7 also refers to Jesus as “The Word.” “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.”
Having “The Word” as one of many names given to the divine Son of God brings me to ponder the importance of words, and of His words in particular. Hel. 3:29 counsels us to “lay hold upon the word of God.” The iron rod is the word of God!
The dictionary has a whole list of meanings for “word.” Some of them have definite application to Christ, the Word–such as ” a promise, an assurance, a command.” 2 Nephi 31:15 says, “The words of my Beloved are true and faithful.” Every word Jesus spoke was true, full of spiritual enlightenment. So it is the gift of His words that I would seek, that I would speak, that I would write, that I would give–words that are true and faithful.
Words as Soul Food
What a glorious gift God gave us through His words and through his Son, The Word. How blessed we are to be able to glean all the nurture and delight and wisdom and satisfaction from inspired divine words.
We have such a need for constant nourishment of both body and spirit, yet live in a culture preoccupied with over-filling the stomach while starving the soul. Matthew 4:4 tells us that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” Christ’s words, God’s words, are edifying, uplifting, soul nourishing. The Word–Jesus–is also called “the bread of life.” (John 6:35) Christ’s words nourish, satisfy, cure soul hunger.
We live in a world starved for Christ’s words–a world emaciated, faltering, weak because of lack of soul food. Amos 8:11-12 says , “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Though the gospel has been restored and the word of the Lord can be found, though Christ’s words are transmitted by satellite over all the face of the earth, many reject them or have not yet heard them; they faint and falter from soul hunger.
Every day the missionaries are finding people who “desire the sincere milk of the word” (1 Pet 2:2), who rejoice to find the “word which healeth the wounded soul.” (Jacob 2 ) Only the words and doctrines of Christ can heal the wounded soul. When a person is nourished and healed by His word, the fruit of the tree of life becomes so delicious that the fruit of worldliness seems bitter in comparison.
However, even the very elect can be deceived, and Jacob 6:7-8 warns us: “For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire? Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ. ” (emphasis mine.) Rather then reject the words of Christ, may we, instead, feast on them.
His Words As a Daily Feast
2 Nephi 32: 3 says, “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I say unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. “
No wonder I love the scriptures so much–they are filled with the words of Christ, filled with soul food. When I feast, rather than nibble, those words nourish and edify me and are the nutrients for spiritual growth and guidance. How many times I have been faint of heart, soul-hungry, and have come to the scriptures and been filled, satisfied, lifted up.
The words of Christ are like manna to the children of Israel–I am not able to eat enough today that I do not need to come back to the source and eat tomorrow. Each day I must come and receive the gift anew, feast on that day’s portion and be strengthened. Just as one meal a day would not keep me physically well-nourished, I cannot check off my scripture study in the morning and be finished. Like a feast with several courses, I need to return to the word of Christ many times a day–at least in my mind.
Words As a Vehicle of the Spirit, as a Transmitter of Testimony
The Second Lecture on Faith, page 24, tells us, “It was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers, this testimony having aroused their minds to inquire after the knowledge of God; the inquiry frequently terminated, indeed always terminated when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries and eternal certainty.” We go to church and we hear words. We listen to general conference and we hear words. We receive a blessing and it is given through words. I have experienced so many times in my life the power of words as a vehicle of the Spirit to transmit a testimony of a true principle from the heart of the speaker to my own heart.
One experience in particular I would like to share. I was a young mother; my four children ages 6, 4, 1, and newborn. One cold, snowy December Sunday morning Elder Monsen was to be the visiting authority at our stake conference and I really wanted to go. However, my husband was out of town, and the meeting was in the Provo Tabernacle–no foyers or cry-rooms for fussy babies. It took all the courage I could muster to get my four little ones and I out the door, through the snow, and onto the hard back bench of the tabernacle. I was totally absorbed in the futile effort of keeping my little ones still for the duration of the meeting; I doubt I heard a word of the conference until the last speaker–Elder Monsen. Then a miracle happened. The children all sat quietly as Elder Monsen told a story that went to my heart like fire.
A dying child who lived on a remote farm in America’s heartland had prayed that he, Elder Monsen, could give her a blessing before she passed on. No one else would do. Her parents told her it was impossible, but through the most improbable series of events, Elder Monsen was led by the Spirit to her bedside to administer a blessing of comfort and peace. The Spirit bore witness to Him of the infinite worth of this child. The Lord orchestrated the fulfillment of her righteous desire because of his great love for her. He bore fervent testimony of the loving awareness and concern and care of the Lord for each one of us–that we are all His children in every sense of the word and that the Lord is just as concerned for our needs and righteous desires as he was for this little girl’s. Tears streamed down my face as a personal testimony of those words was fixed firmly in my heart by the Holy Ghost. I was comforted and reassured in the midst of a very difficult time of my life. The testimony I received that day of Jesus’s concern for each individual has often comforted me. Thinking of it, writing of it now, all these many years later, I still feel the same sweet feelings. Jesus’ words “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you” were carried into my heart by Elder Monsen’s words, and whenever I am in tune, I can revisit that place of peace.
Words as Light
The words of Christ bring light into our souls. In Alma 5:7 we read, “Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word.” I wonder if we can even begin to comprehend the power of words of everlasting light. Further along in this chapter, Alma said, “What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? Behold, I can tell you–did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them? And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true. And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God.” (Alma 5:10-13 emphasis mine)
Oh what power, what light exists in faith-filled words clothing the true doctrine of Christ. We have heard those words, we have read those words, we have the chance to embrace them, to accept the gift, the bring those words of light into our minds and hearts each day through the scriptures.
In Psalms 119:105 we read, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. ” We walk daily through the darkness of an evil world. Only Christ’s words, Christ’s Spirit, and the power of the Holy Ghost that accompanies them, can give us light to guide our steps.
We need to turn off the bad news of the world, turn our eyes from the newspapers, the TV, the videos, look at the good news of the gospel and live. The only effective weapon against darkness is light. Words of light are like flaming candles lighting up a dark world. Thinking about this truth, one day I wrote:
One Tiny Candle
Determined to defeat daunting darkness,
I feverishly tried to load it into buckets–
Carried, dumped, loaded again
Until I collapsed, exhausted.
Darkness stood undiminished.
I wept in frustration,
Proven powerless, my task impossible.
A friend appeared
Holding one tiny candle, one flickering flame.
I gasped as that wee speck of light dispelled darkness.
I threw my bucket far away and ran for candles.
My friend’s candle lost no light by lighting mine.
We two passed our flames to candle after candle.
Each tiny flame ate hungrily, voraciously, big gulps of darkness,
Replacing it with shimmering light.
This effort not exhausting, but joyful!
And I, a child of Light
Recognized at last my one true task–
to share the light of Christ’s words.
Every day I commit to remember the words of the scripture: “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5)
Words as a Compass and Protection
In Ephesians 6:17, after we are counseled to take upon us the whole armor of God, we read, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Our protection, our weapon against Satan and the evils of the world is the word of God.
Alma compared the words of Christ to our personal Liahona: Alma 37:44-45 “For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.” Where else can we find such a compass, such a protection against the deceptions of Satan? In Joseph Smith’s translation of Matthew 1:37 we read, “whoso treasureth up my words, shall not be deceived.”
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, may we rejoice in Christ the Word, and in all His words that guide and protect us. We are reminded each time we attend the temple of our need for constant nourishment of the spirit. We can joyfully accept the gift of Christ’s words by spending more time with them–and consequently more time with The Savior, The Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you” (Col 3:16) at this season, and in every season of your life.
For those who missed Darla’s tapes when they were available in LDS bookstores, Meridian readers may order “The Juggling Act” and “Peace of Mind” for just $5.95 apiece by calling Rosehaven’s toll-free at: 1-888-790-7040 or going to their web page: www.rosehavenpublishing.com. Rosehaven is also distributing Darla’s booklet co-authored with Emma Lou Thayne To Be a Mother: The Agonies and the Ectasies.
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