Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Back in the day when I was teaching a college freshman writing course, on the first day of the semester, I would have the students begin their first assignment: “Write your name on the top line of a piece of paper and tear it from your notebook. Then give the paper to someone you don’t know.”
With the expressions on their faces registering their boredom, they’d trade places. Then I’d announce that the person whose name appeared at the top of their page had just become their “special person.” After the nervous giggling stopped, I’d say, “Notice the white space? Your special person’s name does not take up much room on the paper. But if you described your special person — his or her appearance, character, habits, family life, personal beliefs — the white space would soon begin filling up. That’s exactly what your first assignment is in this class: Fill up the white space under your special person’s name.”
I’d wait for the students to finish their eye-rolling and shoulder-shrugging before I dropped the next bomb. “Each of you must introduce your special person to the rest of the class. Now. Without asking any questions.” Mostly the introductions were something like: “This is so and so and that’s all I know.”
A few weeks later, the students pulled out their paper and shared two things they had learned about their special person. Then, toward the end of the semester, the students prepared introductions of their special person and read them to the class. That’s when something magical happened. Interesting tidbits and kind words flowed freely. In those classes, seldom was heard a discouraging word, where laughter and tears got equal playing time.
Then with the satisfaction that teachers get after students learn a life-changing letter, I’d say, “Congratulations. You have just touched someone’s life with your words.”
Makes me wonder – why are we so reluctant to introduce God to those around us? Is it because when we write his name we are then left with a lot of white space on the rest of the paper? Like those students, we would have trouble introducing someone we don’t know.
Then, after a period of time, we learn more about God and we can share a few tidbits about God. But it is after a longer period of time, we make the effort to learn what we can about God. What is He like? What are His characteristics? What pleases Him? What has God promised? Delivered? Done? Accomplished? How does He comfort? Show His love? Give us strength? What are the examples we can share about what God has done for us throughout our lives?
When we can put those things in words, we can introduce God to anyone and everyone. We don’t need a Bible College degree. We don’t need to be ordained. We don’t need to speak perfectly, using correct grammar and big words.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8.) Go ahead. Take a taste. Find refuge. Then, make your introduction. You just might touch someone’s life with your words.
Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.