One of the toughest assignments in life is to communicate clearly what happened during a time when emotions were high. People who “fall in love” can hardly describe it. Those who endure a calamity or experience a sudden loss often convey the information in a confused manner. The same is true in car accidents.
The following is a series of actual quotes taken from insurance or accident forms. They are the actual words of people who tried to summarize their encounters with trouble.
“I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.”
“The guy was all over the road; I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”
“I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.”
“In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”
“I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection, a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision. I did not see the other car.”
“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.”
“The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.”
“I was unable to stop in time, and my car crashed into the other vehicle. The driver and passenger then left immediately for a vacation with injuries.”
Aren’t those unbelievable!
And yet, one amazing fact is that each report was made by some sincere, serious individual who tried his or her best to be clear and concise. Emotions have a way of smearing the lens of logical thinking and precise communication.
It often happens to Christians when we attempt to express our faith—how we were “born from above” and became “new creatures in Christ.” As non-Christians strain to follow our words, I wonder how many of them must wonder what the religious gobbledygook is all about. We think we’re communicating clearly, but we’re not. We toss around terms familiar only to those in the “in” group . . . phrases foreign to those in the world system (and then we blame them for not being interested!).
Our secret language calls for a decoding process they aren’t equipped to handle. How much better to talk in a plain, concrete, believable manner, as the Spirit of God works to complete the task!
What is it Peter advised? “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).
Take that assignment from God. Be ready! See if you can write out in one, nontechnical, cliché-free paragraph about the hope within you. Your salvation experience. Or—how any person can know God in a meaningful and intimate way.
Jesus took on this challenge when He spoke with a Jewish judge named Nicodemus. And if you remember, even though our Lord was painfully simple and the rabbi was awfully bright, the man still struggled as he tried to track Christ’s words. Believe me—combating confusion is quite an assignment, especially when the emotions of the heart cloud the expressions of the mouth.
It’s not just that many have never heard. It’s that they have heard . . . and have been blown away by our verbiage.
Our job? Make it clear!
Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.