Last week I was chatting with Dennis Nichols (our Lead Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership). He had bumped into a stranger in the hallway earlier that day. The stranger introduced himself and told Dennis that the course he took on campus with Dennis six years ago was the best course he ever took in college.
What a lovely affirmation.
But Dennis had to candidly admit that he did not remember the stranger, that he only ever taught that course the one time, and that his only memory of the course was a confrontation where one student cussed out another in the middle of a class session. Ugly!!!
It turns out that the stranger was the very student on the receiving end of that verbal beating! He said to Dennis, “Yes, but we got through it, and there were things you said in that course that impacted me more deeply than you knew.”
It turns out that this former student has now returned to campus (after getting a Masters degree) and is teaching an English course as an adjunct for the University.
We’ve all had moments like this, when we assess an experience as average or worse. Yet, the Spirit has a way of touching lives beyond our words or efforts. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit between us.
We often assume that inspired speech (a key ministry of the Holy Spirit) means that we utter profound words with remarkable elocution and deep awareness of the wisdom. Inspiration surely means that we feel terrific; we feel inspired. But over and over again, the Spirit uses ordinary words, even weak words, to produce extraordinary outcomes.
A current student of mine shared his testimony of coming to Christ one Sunday night at a church service. He described the message as unmemorable and unremarkable, except that the Holy Spirit took him by the collar and turned his life upsidedown!
Do we live with such confidence and assurance? Do we speak with the quiet certainty that if we are as yielded as we can be to the leading of the Holy Spirit, that the words we speak (few and fumbling as they might be) can be instruments of hope and life in someone else’s life? Not because we are clever but because He is gracious!
Who knows what He might whisper to others — family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers — through our simple words this week?
Sometimes we bump into the stranger again later, even years later. Often we don’t.
Be encouraged. Behind our words works the One who created the world itself with a word. “Let there be….”