I loved the Gospel of St. John. It was the first Bible text I was directed to read after becoming a Christian, and I have returned to it over and over again in the intervening years.
Before the written word was the spoken word. And the written word did not replace the spoken word. The spoken word still is. As A.W. Tozer writes in The Pursuit of God, “His world-filling Voice…antedates the Bible by uncounted centuries, that Voice which has not been silent since the dawn of creation, but is sounding still throughout the far reaches of the universe.”
When I learned that “Word” was literally “spoken word,” I was just starting what became my speechwriting career. The understanding has a profound impact. My small, pale, tiny, faint echoes of the spoken voice of creation was indeed small, pale, tiny and faint, but it was also an echo. What I was doing in my day-to-day work was my human imitation of speaking something from nothing, because every speech begins in chaos, and it begins with a blank page.
Simply learning that literal meaning of “Word” transformed how I considered, developed and judged my work. What I was doing mattered, if for no other reason than it pointed to the original Creator. And I had a compass for looking at the speeches of others. I could transcend political and policy differences and look at what was being said and how it was being said, and learn to write better.
Granted, this career epiphany happened at likely the last possible moment it could have happened. This was before PowerPoint destroyed speech texts, replacing them with bullet points, and before media training had burned “stick to your three key message points, and only your three key message points” into speakers’ brains. This was also before everything in society and culture was viewed through the lens of extreme polarization, at least within the last 100 years.
The Word of God is still “sounding through the far reaches of the universe.” All we have to do is listen.
Led by Jason Stayszsen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been discussing The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. This week and next week we’re covering chapter 6, “The Speaking Voice.” To see other posts on the chapter, please visit Sarah’s site, Living Between the Lines, for her own post and the links to those by others.