I must confess that my husband and I are movie fans. Before my husband and I met, I had seen only a handful of movies in my life. He loved movies and began to introduce me to the media. What he loved about movies turned out to be what brought me pleasure as well.
Movies tell a story. Our life tells a story as well.
Some movies are rather poorly written and seem to have no story at all which actually tells me more about the writers, directors, and producers than it does about the content of the film.
Our favorite movies are those that tell a good story. We are far less interested in spectacular cinematic effects than whether there is a good story that captures our attention and gives us something to think about, remember, and reflect on later.
You see, we learn much from stories whether they are written in a book, told aloud, appear with or in music, or are produced on film. They transport us to places we have never been and many we have never visited and never will. They stir our imagination. They also show us something of ourselves in the process.
Recently, my husband and I were looking through our movie library and selected one we had not seen for some time. Neither of us could actually recall much about the movie. It was one we chose first as a result of the actors in it whom we respect. The movie? The title is one you may not have heard of, Remains of the Day.
We watched it 24 hours ago and the theme we identified has lingered in our minds and conversation.
In the movie, the two main characters, a butler and a housekeeper in the home of a lord set in the pre and post WW ll England, tell a story behind the dialogue. The real story is about what is never said between them more than any part of the script they act.
They leave unsaid their growing appreciation for each other despite the many differences between them. This appreciation slowly evolves into respect, affection, and love. There is no word spoken about this and the housekeeper ultimately leaves the household and marries another rather than to stay in the situation.
The cost to both the butler and the housekeeper is great. One more chance occurs near the end of the movie to express some regret or word when the butler travels to see the housekeeper some years later under the guise of perhaps regaining her employment.
As the final scenes unfold, what remains is the cost of words never spoken.
Yes, it was just a movie, but one which also mirrors far too many relationships in real life. Far too often “I love you” is never said. “I’m proud of you” stays silent on our lips. “Will you forgive me?” stays locked in our hearts.
Some say words do not really matter, but the truth is that they do.
Words are a significant means of communication, the stuff of relationship. As such, they can wound or heal, can encourage or challenge, or they can give assurance or leave doubts.
So, what does that have to do with our spiritual lives?
The Gospel of John gives a glimpse:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
John 1:1-2 ESV
Jesus was and is the Word. He was with God when He spoke the world into existence, when He created the land and the sea, when He created every living creature. His words brought life, spoke life into existence. He woos us with His words. Our heart is stirred by them.
God has never been limited to words to communicate who He is, nor are we, but it seems evident that words are powerful. We are His sons and daughters and our words are powerful as well.
Words have the capacity to speak life or death. They reflect something of our heart, our character.
Certainly not every word that comes into our heads needs to be spoken and many should not be, but if our primary command is to love (first God and then others) our words as well as actions should reflect that in both vertical and horizontal relationship.
Life is made up of moments that come and go at the seeming speed of light. It can be easy to miss opportunities in the busyness of our days to allow our hearts to be attuned to the Lord, to sense His leading to offer even a very few words that can buoy the heart or spirit of another person we intersect in those moments.
When Paul writes to the church at Philippi, he says something that impacts me,
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Phil. 4:9 ESV
Paul was using himself as an example of a disciple following closely Jesus Christ, the ultimate model. He was reminding all who would read his letter to practice doing those things the Master did.
I believe that would include seeking to not miss moments and not to leave life-giving words unsaid.