Verbal Camouflage

Verbal camouflage: the art of saying enough to blend in but not enough to stand out from any conversation where you don’t know the subject matter well.

I like to think I’m pretty well versed in this type of speech. For example, I know just enough about sports to blend into an average conversation. With my limited arsenal of roughly one to five facts or anecdotes per popular sport, I can sort of follow a conversation, insert a comment when relevant, and make it through the discussion without my ignorance showing too clearly. As a bonus, if I can maintain my cover long enough, I can sometimes pick up an additional bit of info I can use in a later conversation. If all goes well, nobody knows how little I actually understand.

Verbal camouflage works for many subjects: sports, coffee, fashion, politics, music, internet controversies, etc. The practice can work in at least two ways. The first way is the way of humility. Stay silent, listen well, and learn. The goal here isn’t to appear more knowledgeable or to hide our true selves (most of my friends recognize how little I know about most things). Rather, the goal is to learn without distracting from ongoing conversations.

The second way is the way of pride. Here, we try to share what we know in order to look better in the eyes of those around us. We attempt to bluff our way to acceptance, hiding our weakness behind a mask of knowledge. Maybe we’re afraid our ignorance would deny us friends or would keep us from the circles we want to inhabit. Maybe we’re just insecure with our limits. For whatever reason, however, we choose talking over listening, assuming rather than learning. Sadly, we can sometimes get away with it. Sadder still, we sometimes try this approach with God.

I’m learning that we can’t fake things with him, though. I may know the right words to say to convince a friend I’m doing alright. I might be able to fake my way through a conversation about spirituality. But I can’t do such things with God. He knows my heart better than I do. He sees my weakness, my ignorance, my pride, my insecurity. He sees where I’m falling short in my love and my obedience. He sees it all. And while I may be able to hide from others, I can’t hide from him. If I sing about surrender or pray about dependence, he knows whether or not I really mean it.

Thankfully, God gives mercy and grace in great abundance. He reveals my ignorance, my weakness, and my need of him, and he meets me with instruction, strength, and help. He disciplines me for my good, convicting me of sinful ways and leading me in righteous ways. He provides, protects, and keeps his promises. I am weak. He is strong.

I’m trying to be more open before him, more sensitive to his Spirit, more humble in my walk. I’m beginning to learn, slowly, where before I would assume knowledge and speak hastily. I’m beginning to grow, slowly, as I learn to trust him more. I’m beginning to operate with a better understanding of my limits, looking to him for help. I’m not good at any of these things, but, by his grace, I think I’m getting better. And I pray he is pleased with me.


Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

The Process

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Haunted by the fear of what comes after
That hard resignation of all hoping
In all plans of mine, the feeble groping
For a road that will not warrant laughter.
Rip a wall down and remove a rafter–
So it feels when dreams begin to crumble.
“All is lost!” – the thought when you but stumble.
Can we lose and not despair thereafter?

Faith and patience: bittersweet but proven.
Bitter, for they bid us leave our hiding
In the safety of our sight and timing.
Sweet, for we, though limited, yet move in
Sov’reignty’s provision, e’er abiding
In his goodness, t’ward him ever climbing.


Photo by Davide Foti on Unsplash

Humility

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My eyes, too weak to properly perceive
The face of beauty, found in God alone,
See clearly lesser things, and thus they leave
The truth of God for gods of self and stone.
And thus I grow to hold too high a place
In my own estimation. I forget
That any good in me is all of grace.
My ev’ry breath is evidence of debt
To God who is the giver of the breath,
Revealed in part, unknowable in whole.
He is, before my birth, beyond my death,
The maker and sustainer of my soul.

Adjust my eyes to greater glories see;
Thereby produce in me humility.


Photo by LoboStudio Hamburg on Unsplash

Faith When Obedience Looks Like Foolishness

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Allow me to set the scene for you.

Moses, the legendary leader of Israel, is dead. The wanderers have returned once more after forty long years to the edge of the promised land. Only the Jordan river lies between them and their inheritance. As Moses’ life drew to a close, a younger, God-fearing man named Joshua stepped up to claim the mantle as the leader of the people of God. Israel now stands on the cusp of a new journey, a journey full of war and grace. Continue reading

Contentions of Convictions

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Truth is a subject often in dispute
When two interpretations disagree.
Two brothers – neither list’ning – turn to shoot
The other dead rather than bend the knee.
Assuming that there is no middle ground,
No chance that God is wiser than their minds,
They trip and trap and trigger all around
The body harsh divisions of all kinds.
And as the fights erupt, the mission fades
And is forgotten ‘neath the cries of war.
The rescue ships no longer act as aids;
They leave the dying stranded on the shore.
True doctrine does deserve our strong defense.
Contentions of convictions? Recompense.

For Whose Name’s Sake?

I have a bad habit of wanting to be profound. Whether I’m writing or speaking, I have a desire to say something memorable, something life changing, something people will quote after reading. I know I shouldn’t pursue such things. I know that the movement of God won’t be hindered by my inability to alliterate every point in a lesson. I know all that really matters is whether or not I’m obedient to the Lord. So why does this matter to me so much?
Continue reading