I was working in Sansom Park not too long ago and it brought back a flood of memories from when I was a kid growing up there. My brothers and I were typical boys who liked to ride bikes and “play army”. I think we were especially good at playing army because my dad spent many years as a proud Army Reservist and supplied us with plenty of old Army gear and toy guns. In our neighborhood there weren’t many other kids our age that wanted to play army with us so my brothers and I fought everyone. We used to hide on the side of the road in a ditch or in bushes or a tree or anywhere we thought we were hidden. Then, as cars drove by we’d pretend they were the bad guys and we’d point our toy guns at them and yell “BANG, BANG, BANG!!” We didn’t have the really cool guns that made noise for you and we certainly couldn’t afford to go buying caps all the time. So we just yelled “BANG”. We conquered many enemies that way. Destroyed them all… with just our voice! And they never saw it coming.
Years later as an adult (some of you will argue if I am there yet) I remember driving down some neighborhood street and seeing a couple of boys dressed in Army gear with toy guns hiding behind cars or trees or bushes or something. As I drove by they pointed their guns at me and yelled “POW, POW, POW!” Of course they didn’t get me because everyone knows guns don’t go “POW” they go “BANG”. Silly kids. But something I realized as I drove on is that I actually saw those kids WHILE THEY WERE HIDING! I couldn’t believe it. Did people see my brothers and me so many years ago when we hid in ambush? How can it be? Yes, they did see us and no, our voices didn’t destroy anyone.
There are many folks who seem to be playing similar games as adults. They attack others with their voices by gossiping and running people down while hiding behind the camouflage of “prayer requests” or “concerns”. They think no one can see them and what they are doing. But just as I saw those kids hiding and waiting for me, those who gossip and slander can be seen by all and most importantly by God. The difference is, unlike the words of those kids, these words can and do hurt and destroy.
God gave us speech and words to edify, praise, encourage and lift up. May we, God’s children, use the voices and words God gave us to bless and love.