They say actions speak louder than words, and most of the time, I would agree. Watch someone long enough and you’ll learn why he chooses to laugh loudly, talk frequently or hug often. But what if you don’t have a person’s actions to learn from? I discovered this past week, when there is an absent of living action, words can be the best guide to the heart.
I open my uncle’s Bible carefully and cautiously, not because of the book itself, but rather because of the man who used to own it. I wasn’t old enough to watch how my uncle loved his family, or how he went out of his way to make someone feel special or how he constantly laughed at his own goofy jokes until they were suddenly hilarious. All I have are these stories, and although I value them immensely, still, something is missing – a reverence that translates to this object that was so dear to him.
As I turn the leather bound Harper Study Bible cover, the page falls open to the end of John. Underlined verses in blue and orange speckle the page. Numerous notes written both in all-caps and in cramped print fill the large margins in order to complete the pattern.
In every word and every underlining, the stories I have always heard about my uncle are confirmed. He was one of those people who got it.Â Christ was life for Him – and the excitement held in that truth was clear in his fervent commentary on its source.
As I poured over the words of an uncle I never knew, I not only felt closer to him but surprisingly, I felt closer to the Creator and Savior he was commenting on. Lest I forget, this ultimately was not a book of my uncle’s words, it was a book filled with the words of God.
I realized the frustration I’ve felt in not knowing a dearly beloved uncle is the same frustration I continually feel in not knowing Jesus Christ. In both cases, I’ve often remained convinced I am isolated with dead texts and stories as the only sources to learn about their character, their personalities and their lives.
By discovering my uncle’s notes, I was reminded of words’ ability to remain far past the person who wrote them. Words are thought-out beliefs, and plans, and pasts and futures all at once – they are permanent records and organized symbols that embody the essence of their creator.
And if the words of an uncle unable to share his earthly presence with those he cared for can translate so powerfully, I am confident that the words of the all-powerful are capable of even more. In His case, words contain the breath and life we are all so desperately seeking.
Actions may speak louder than words, but words have the ability to resonate with an echo that never loses its volume.