Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
May 5, 2019
Confessing my addiction
I confess. I am addicted to certain adjectives. I use them repeatedly. I am not sure I should feel guilty about it but I cannot stop. The words I overuse are magnificent, remarkable, wonderful, beautiful and marvelous.
Mark Twain’s remedy for deleting overused words will not work for me. Twain wanted to ban the word “very” from writing. His advice: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you are inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” I see his point. I overuse the word “very” too. But if I followed Twain’s advice, Tonya, my editor, would be so shocked she would insist I rewrite my column.
Then when I explained to Tonya that I had simply followed Mark Twain’s sage advice, she would inform me that there is no evidence Twain ever made that statement. It seems the humorous advice was actually offered by William Allen White, a prominent Kansas newspaper editor, in a speech to a group of “cub” reporters. In addition to the words usually attributed to Twain, White went on to say that “very” is the weakest word in the English language.
Whether White or Twain said it, the point is well taken. Ever since I first read that quote, I have tried very hard not to use the word “very” so much. Clearly, writing is not improved by the frequent use of “very.” I am very sure that my writing is better now that I seldom use the word “very.” I am very proud that I have stopped using “very” so much.
But for the life of me, I cannot stop using the words “magnificent” and “marvelous.” Let me share an example. Take a beautiful scene in the Bible, like the time the resurrected Jesus cooked breakfast for his disciples while they were out fishing. When they recognized Jesus, they were stunned to hear Jesus say, “Come and have breakfast.” Now think about it: that was a magnificent moment in time! Instead of reprimanding his disciples, Jesus cooked breakfast for them. There is no better word than magnificent to describe that!
Look at it. The disciples had scattered like cowards while Jesus was being crucified. So what does God think of cowards, or people who have failed or lied, or turned a deaf ear to God? That breakfast is your answer. God forgives you. He loves you. He will not let you wallow alone in defeat and despair. He comes to you! He cooks breakfast for you! So is that not the magnificent attitude of God? Remarkable! Beautiful! Wonderful!
Look at the leader of the disciples, Peter. A wreck of a man. He had lied about even knowing Jesus. Shamed and disgraced he was in his own eyes! But Jesus does not scold him. He loves him, forgives him, redeems him and Peter is suddenly a new man. This is a remarkable story of God at work, changing wasted lives into wonderful lives! Peter became like clay in the hands of the Master Potter and God released Peter’s marvelous potential!
Peter had to forgive himself in order to become God’s man. Forgiveness is never easy. It is difficult to forgive someone who has hurt you. It is sometimes even more difficult to forgive yourself for your sins, for the way you have hurt others. But when you become willing to forgive others, and to forgive yourself, you begin to experience the magnificent power of God to change your heart, your future, your destiny. You discover that God can set you free from resentment, self-pity, despair, hatred and doubt. Suddenly you feel like shouting about how marvelous, and how wonderful, God really is!
Maybe God had seemed distant, uncaring. Now you see with new eyes that he is more willing than you can imagine to give you a new attitude, a new future. He will not force his way into your life, but when you open to door and invite him in, he comes in! Slowly he changes the focus of your life. You learn to glance at the world and its problems but gaze at the God who gives you peace in the midst of life’s storms.
After forgiving himself, and letting Jesus restore his life, Peter began to find joy in obeying God. He had a reason to live; he had a mission. And God gave him the marvelous power to stay the course even when he was being persecuted.
I hope by now you understand my addiction. When I realize that God is like Jesus, who cooked breakfast for sinners like me, I want to tell the world about God’s magnificent power to change wounded, ordinary people into remarkable disciples who can live beautiful lives for the glory of God. How marvelous! How wonderful! + + +