A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
Ascribe Greatness
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
Survival Guide

The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church
Well Read

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Sticks and Stones…
By Bill Shurkey

Someone once said, "The pen is mightier than the sword." That's a true statement. In most cases a well-directed sword thrust can bring about a painful, yet relatively quick death. But what about words? A few well-aimed words can be more painful than the sword, and death will be slow and agonizing. As children we learned the saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me." Now that we're adults we know better.

Words are powerful. They are what separate us from the animal kingdom and other lower forms of life. It was words that tricked Eve in the garden. It was words that set in motion the building of the tower of Babel and it was words again that the Lord jumbled to stop it. Man's word has been responsible for the rise and fall of many. Not only can we find examples in every book of the Bible but throughout history as well. Words are a gift from our creator and were meant to praise and worship him and to encourage others. Words are man's main form of communication with one another. What we communicate, however, can mean the difference between life and death. In James' epistle he says, "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." (James 3:10 KJV)

When we decide to speak, let's use Jesus as our example. The first thing most apparent in the life of Jesus is that he knew when to speak and when to remain silent. When he did speak it was with power and authority, whether he was bringing life to Lazarus or cursing a fig tree. The main difference between the Lord and us is that he is God, we're not. Only he has the authority to curse because only he knows what's in the heart. And it's his words, not ours, that deals with it.

Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (KJV)

Our job is not to judge but to forgive. Once forgiveness takes place, then the healing process can begin. We can all remember things that were said to us years ago that are still fresh in our minds like it was only yesterday. We can all forgive but it's hard to forget. Words spoken in anger or frustration, or simply without thinking, will fester and cause a root of bitterness to take hold if it's not checked. Forgiveness is the first step on the road to recovery. It kills the root of bitterness before it can spread and begins the long emotional healing process.

Even words, it seems, have their own rhythm of life, controlled by those who use them. Encouragement and expressions of love can leave us soaring above the mountaintop, able to face any situation. Words spoken in anger, sarcasm or cruelty, however, can plunge us into the depths of the valley, where it may take years to reach solid ground again.

The job of poetry is to speak universal truths. We don't shy away from the painful and ugly, because in our world the painful and ugly exists. But through that pain and ugliness we offer hope.

With forgiveness there can be healing, and at the end of healing we can learn to forget. Let these poems minister to you where you are in your daily walk. I pray they give you each hope that healing will come. As we open our mouths to speak in the days ahead, let's remember the cry of David, the man after God's own heart: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14,KJV)

* * *

Hide Me under the Shadow
By Bill Shurkey

In the stillness of the night
I remember the hurts.
Those I called friend,
my brother and sister.

Tears wet my pillow
when I think of the gossip,
misplaced trust, betrayal.
Though I've forgiven, Lord,
the pain writhes within.
It rises each night to
the surface and taunts me

again and again.
Night after bitter night
the past haunts me.
I am mocked by my own memory.

Forgiveness was easy.
Healing is difficult.
Forgetting impossible.
Lord, what's the secret?

Lead me to your place of rest.
Hide me under the shadow
of your wing, where there's healing
and I can forget.

© 2005 Bill Shurkey

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1 KJV).
Bill Shurkey is the editor of The Rhythm of Life. He has published over 100 poems in various publications, as well as short fiction, short nonfiction and a nonfiction book. His two passions are poetry and teaching children through fantasy and humor. You can write to Bill care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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