Life Giving or Death Dealing




On a dusty shelf in my mind, I recall a little song we taught when I helped in a pre-school Sunday School class during my teen years. The lyrics included admonitions most of the tots didn’t fully comprehend, but perhaps those words came back to them as they do to me. The lines included, “Be careful little eyes what you see….Be careful little ears what you hear” and went on from there.


As my eyes and ears are accosted on social media pages and TV with rants of all sorts, something on the dusty shelf of my mind stirred.


I am interested in the news, but that can be hard to discover in the midst of the ranting, shouting, pontificating, and rambling. I am interested in seeing and hearing the fun and great things happening in the lives of my friends as well as how the Lord is moving in their lives, but not a barrage of social commentary that can bombard me if I checkout Facebook.


You see, all those other things seep into me even though I don’t want them to, and they can have an effect on me that pulls me offside and away from the course the Lord sets before me.


They can be harbingers of fear.


They can also cause my thoughts to go tumbling and momentarily lose sight of WHO is in charge as well as what I (or any of us) has control over and what I (or any of us) do not. They nibble at His peace, joy, and hope. They are not life giving, but more death dealing. They can pull any one of us into isolation or build little walls in our hearts that tear relationships apart.


That should be our first clear clue that behind so much of this, there is a power at work that is meant to destroy us and divide us that has been here since the beginning of time.


That power is clever and well experienced. We never suspect it is he. We label it everything else and he quietly chuckles as he watches us get caught up in the milieu. Our words change, speaking more of our differences than our commonality. Our attitudes shift almost imperceptibly at times and it can take us a moment or more to recognize something is eroding the faith and belief in the One greater than ourselves whom we say we are committed to.


We can forget we are one family.


How myopic we can be! We are a part of something so much bigger than where our focus shifts. A recent sighting of the International Space Station on a clear cool  night was a reminder of how the view from there is so different than mine.


Reading Jayber Crow has given me pause more than once as I have read Wendell Berry’s wise well-crafted words and insight coming from the main character, Jayber. His words go beyond noting that we often don’t understand each other very well to the pithy reality.


“People generally suppose they don’t understand one another very well, and that is true; they don’t. But some things communicate easily and fully. Anger and contempt and hatred leap from one heart to another like fire in dry grass. The revelations of love are never complete or clear, not in this world. Love is slow and accumulating, and no matter how large and high it grows, it falls short. Love comprehends the world, though we don’t comprehend it. But hate comes off in slices, clear and whole – self-explanatory, you might say. You can hate people completely and kill them in an instant.”   Wendell Berry


Certainly the words attributed to the philosopher/barber, Jayber in Wendell Berry’s epic story pierce bone and marrow to the truth. Some pages later he adds:


 “Hate succeeds. This world gives plentiful scope and means to hatred, which always finds its justifications and fulfills itself perfectly in time by destruction of the things of time…


But love, sooner or later, forces us out of time. It does not accept that limit. Of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is always more than a little strange here. It is not explainable or even justifiable. It is itself the justifier. We do not make it. If it did happen to us, we could not imagine it. It includes the world and time as a pregnant woman includes her child whose wrongs she will suffer and forgive. It is in the world but is not altogether of it. It is of eternity. It takes us there when it most holds us here.”




13 thoughts on “Life Giving or Death Dealing

  1. Thanks for sharing this. The world has gotten so very loud over the past few years and it’s worn me out. It’s hard enough for me to navigate the atmosphere online and in the news. It’s harder yet as it creeps into the church. I struggle with competing desires to check out and to be an informed citizen and bold and loving Christian. Obviously, I need some encouragement. Thank you again.

    1. Natalie, I think many of us are in the same place. The world seems to have changed radically in a short time. What I am reminded of by what I read in the Word is that this is what we can expect as the time for the Lord’s return draws near. Lawlessness and all manner of evil will increase and the body of Christ will not always look as He desires and some will fall away in the process. We ALL need each other for encouragement in these times.🌻

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here.

    Indeed, what is going on today on social media, even though it seems blaring, is actually quite insidious when we consider how it is deeply effecting onlookers, myself included. I just keep thinking of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letter where Satan was trying to keep them busy, in the same way, outside of a fictional book, He is working just as hard to busy us in defending OUR position, whatever that may be on any given subject, rather than focusing on the ONLY position that matters, that of Christ Jesus who sits on the Throne, the lens by which ALL causes and positions should be filtered through.

    1. This is so true. Lewis was a wise and well-spoken author. We do well to pay attention to people who point us to the truth. Thanks for this.

      1. So very true! He faced storms as a soldier in WW I and as he walked through the death of his beloved wife, Joy, as cancer destroyed the life they hoped for. He has a great deal to offer to guide our own journeys.🦋

  3. That little song is a great reminder for me too (I remember it so well!). The internet is a very tricky place; it can give us great information and encouragement, but it can also trip us up and send us spiraling downward. I don’t always get the balance right. Praying for discernment and mercy. Thanks, Pam.

    1. The internet is indeed a tricky place, not unlike a mine field. I am persuaded that during the time we have all been shut in due to the pandemic that we have all ingested more of it than is good and it has necessarily benefitted us in a great many ways and shifted our focus away from the only source of hope and peace so that fear, anger, and hatred has had more room to expand and rule. May God help us as we use these manmade tools so they do not lead us.⚓️

  4. As a whole, society craves love yet it is so driven toward hate. These thoughts you’ve shared have been similar to thoughts I’ve been having. We must seek to show love to all. I also remember that song from when I was young-“be careful little mouths what you say, for the Father up above is looking down in love, oh be careful little mouths what you say.” That was a favorite of mine 🙂

    1. I think that is true, April, but so often they don’t understand fully the love we are talking about. They often chase after a more shallow form of it and miss what Christ’s agape love alone can offer. 🦋

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