The Root of All Words

By August 28, 2009 faith, language No Comments

By now you must know I am a complete word nerd. (And yet, you come back!) I like to learn new words; I spend hours reading about language and pronunciation and word origins; my mind gets stuck on a word like a recording skipping and repeating as I turn the word about in my mind and play with the sound.

I’ve always been more of a thinker; I am also a slow mental processor. Under pressure, my mind often blanks out and words fail me. My little flock of words and ideas runs off and leaves me speechless. People who have the gift of debate and quick-fire response fascinate me. How do they process thoughts and formulate replies so quickly? I am not wired this way.

This sluggishness has always frustrated me, but I’m coming to terms with it. I know that I do my best thought-formation as my hands fly across a keyboard. It helps that I recognize my place in the spectrum of knowledge and proficiency: I am not a word expert; I’m merely an enthusiast.

[Perhaps I am a bit like the father in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He was constantly tracing words back to the Greek origin. He was not an etymologist, but he was definitely a word enthusiast who loved his language and his family’s Greek roots.]

The passion I have for the beauty of words—both written and spoken—fuses together in God, who spoke the universe into being with words of power and sought after His people through words of devotion and warned His people through words of prophets. Then He came to speak directly; He put on flesh and walked among us, speaking directly to us. That’s Jesus, the Word made flesh.

During this summer’s Bible study of Paul’s letter to the Colossian believers, the Lord Jesus is described attribute after attribute. One in particular has enriched my wonder of Him:

“For by [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” —Colossians 1:16

I had always thought in creation it was the Father of the God Triune who commanded order from the chaos of the formless and the void and the surface of the deep (Gen. 1:2), but here I see that all things were created by the Son.

And that reminded me of what John’s Gospel tells us of Jesus:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” —John 1:1–3

Jesus is the Word that is God and was with God in the beginning, creating all things by the power of His speech.

This is especially sweet to me, knowing that the Word of God (Jesus) was speaking life and order from the beginning. Just as He brought order from chaos in creation, He also brings order from chaos within my heart and soul. (Amen, and more of that!)

For all words, all life, all meaning—the common denominator is the Word, Jesus Christ. My roots are in Him. He is the first of all words; the first to utter a sound. And that’s why I love words.

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