Keeping Our Thoughts and Words Aligned with God
God is as close to us—as available, present, committed, and connected to us—as our thoughts and words. Acknowledging this spiritual fact lets God guide all our interactions with others.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer" (Psalms 19:14).
These words are extraordinarily powerful! They calm us before we speak, they carry us through a conversation, and they bless the intended meaning of our words as soon as we've finished talking. What a relief!
The tiny word, "let," is huge with meaning. Think of all that it implies:
- to allow or permit
- to make room or move aside
- to invite
- to welcome
- to release or let go
- to submit
- to humble oneself
- to empower another
- to make way
This verse from Psalms (above) is a humble prayer that both acknowledges God as supreme—as strong and merciful—and establishes man as contrite, willing, and ready to be obedient to God's thoughts, to His direction and guidance. This prayer is based on the understanding that God is as close to us—as available, present, committed, and connected to us—as our thoughts, and, in turn, our words. In essence, when we let God into our hearts, we acknowledge that God is governing our interactions with anyone and everyone: family members, friends, teachers, coaches, bosses, and even complete strangers.
The other day, one of my tutoring students tried valiantly to convince me that one of her teachers is a "creepy jerk" who doesn't have any idea what she's doing or how to teach teenagers. After three months of criticizing the teacher and refusing to do the work (as an intentional act of protest), this student was failing the class and convinced it was the teacher's fault. When I explained to her that I couldn't help her until she changed her attitude, she burst into frustrated tears, convinced that she couldn't possibly do that, and that there had to be another way. But there wasn't. There never is. Finally, my student grudgingly agreed to try to stop saying negative things about the teacher and reacting negatively to everything the teacher said. This first step required the student to radically change the meditation of her heart as well as the words out of her mouth. It wasn't easy; it didn't happen overnight. But over the course of several weeks, things began to improve. My student softened her comments about this class and the teacher; she began to understand the readings; she completed long-overdue assignments and was grateful for partial credit; and she took the initiative to meet with the teacher for help. Her grade improved day by day. What's more, the teacher stopped criticizing her in front of her classmates.
This student's willingness to change made room for God's strength and redemption to transform her—in essence, to bring "the words of (her) mouth and the mediation of (her) heart" into conformity with God.
There was a time when a very close friend (a guy, but not a boyfriend) turned on me for no apparent reason other than his sudden decision to dramatically change the direction of his life.One night, when he was visiting from out-of-town, we talked until dawn. The next day, he packed his bag, told me he never wanted to be in contact with me again, and that all we had shared over the past five years meant nothing. Then he left. I was devastated and utterly deflated. I finally found peace when I read this verse from Psalms and it became clear to me that if my thoughts and words are aligned with God, then I could count on His strength and redemption—not just for myself, but also for my friend. I could trust that the Godlike qualities underpinning our friendship—our meditations and words—were lasting, and could not be lost or twisted into a picture of hate and betrayal. I clung to the promise in this verse until it transformed my sense of worth and renewed my conviction that this individual was still my friend. Two years later, I received a long letter from him, expressing apology and regret, and a humble request for forgiveness. Close to 30 years later, we remain friends.
Perhaps the most challenging scenario to which this verse relates is an interaction "in the moment"—when we're engaged in an important conversation and we feel unheard or misunderstood. Perhaps we find ourselves silently pleading for God's help. The power of this single verse can cut right through the difficult exchange of words to the pure hearts of those involved. In a flash, we can realize that our communications are through God, not without Him or circumventing Him or bypassing Him, and the course of the conversation can significantly change. Suddenly, we know that we "live and move and have our being" in God. We can let go of willfulness, stubbornness, and dogged determination. Aligning our thoughts with God and letting ourselves be redeemed, restored, and renewed to the point where we're listening to God's thoughts as they come out of our mouth.
Within your family, make time to talk about the meaning of this verse and to discern specific instances where it has been or could be put into practice. To "let" is to put God first—to feel His strength and grace leading us wisely and compassionately through every interaction, such that our thoughts and words attest to the presence of the Christ, blessing everyone involved… before, during, and after each interaction.