Learning to Speak God from Scratch

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


And God Said

When I moved from the Bible Belt to New York City, I knew I would experience culture shock, but I had no idea I would lose my ability to speak God.

I used religious language with ease in the South, rarely pausing to think about the meaning of my words. But, Toto, I was not in Georgia anymore. I discovered that whenever conversations turned to spirituality, the words I’d used for decades didn't connect with the people around me. 

In a search for answers and understanding, I uncovered a spiritual crisis affecting millions. Holy phrases have become tools of manipulation in the hands of angry religious leaders. They are fashioned into clubs by combative evangelists. And when shouted from the mouth of a street preacher, scripture becomes downright obnoxious.

But speaking God matters because speaking matters to God. 

From the first syllables of the first chapter of Genesis, God creates the world with words. God uses language to form seaweed and sunflowers, caterpillars and cats, riptides and meteors. 

But God doesn’t stop there. With a whisper, humans arise from dirt, and divine breath inflates lungs—a gift that offers us the capability to speak, too. Language is the greatest tool possessed by any creature. No other animals besides humans have ever possessed this capability—and none ever will.

Now, our words may not cause plants to sprout or light up the night sky, but they can make hope spring forth in a human heart. They can bring joy or grief, doubt or delight. They are the very bedrock of our faith.

When we release words into the air, like the first words spoken, they create worlds both glorious and dark. God birthed us with words, and now we find ourselves in constant labor, giving birth ourselves through the power of words. Perhaps now is a better time than ever than to learn how to speak God from scratch.

Consider the way you talk about God. How do the words you use connect to or repel your listeners?