I've been playing a lot of Words with Friends lately. If you're not familiar with this, it's basically Scrabble for smart phones, and you can play it with friends far and near. My sister and I have been keeping a game going--a simple way to keep in touch across the miles...
I'm not sure I can explain the draw of such word games... Arranging letters to make words is just, well...satisfying in a way. To take a random collection of seven letters and shuffle them until you spot a great word is a fun pastime. Add strategic placements to earn points and it's addicting! I'm always just a little sad though to forego a long and wonderful word that uses almost all the tiles for a short boring one that will make me more points. I wish there were someway to measure the inherent value of words...
Which brings me to the point of what's missing in this game. When all the tiles are laid and the score is tallied, all that's there is a tangle of words without meaning. They have no context. Some of them defy definition besides: "QI" ? "TEL"? "SUPE" ? I can't use these in a sentence but they make nifty fillers and they count as words, along with things like OW and EX and AI which serve to further illustrate the meaninglessness of using words in this way.
So I thought it would be fun to take the words from one of our last games (one of the rare ones that I actually won) and play with them a little--dig for meaning. Thus today's Word Trivia post.
I sorted them first on paper---words that represent quantifiable 'stuff', words that represent actions, and 'other' words that really don't say much--for example 'to' and 'as' and 'or'. Then I just had fun jotting down the memories associated in my mind with each of these words.
WAX was first--It reminded me of my pre-adolescent venture into candle-making after receiving my most memorable Christmas gift ever at Grandma's house with my aunts and uncles and cousins. I don't even know who gave it to me but I remember the molds--a mushroom, a star, a ball and a quirky little turtle, and the colors and scents of blueberry and cinnamon and orange and blue... And the candles I didn't want to burn after I'd made them...
BERTH was next. Ah, flashback to an unpleasantly memorable train ride into the deep south of Mexico when we were a young family. I was pregnant; it was hot. It was my first experience of train travel. We had chosen a sleeping berth, thinking it would be more comfortable than riding in regular coach class. Big mistake. The inexplicable stops in no-man's land were not only lengthy but nerve-wracking. Were we being ambushed like in the Wild West movies?! The berth was tiny and stuffy with no place to sit comfortably and I was queasy for the duration. Never again. We preferred the overnight bus!
KNIFE brings to mind the beautiful hunting knife with the faux-ivory handle that Jim bought me to protect myself in case of....?.... while out hiking. I carry it. Sometimes. But can't imagine drawing it to ward off a cougar!
DOE ("a deer, a female deer...") Other than the Sound of Music jingle, this word reminds me of deer in general which I was fonder of before they became garden pests eating strawberry patches and stunting immature fruit trees... Now that we've moved and I no longer have a garden, I'm becoming more appreciative of their graceful beauty again. I stopped on my walk just last night to snap a picture of a trailside pair...
GOO is a generic catchword that conjures up a vague sense of concoctions created for 'Science' class in our homeschooling era. It is also the perfect description of what happens when you microwave marshmallows to create instant "Some-mores" without the campfire.
To rhyme with that is EWE which is the meaning of my youngest daughter's name, Rachel, a fact that seemed important when she was a newborn. More important to me now is the consolation that I too am a sheep--God's own. He knows and cares. "I am your sheep," is for me a consoling prayer.
PIETY is a word that can smack of self-righteous arrogance or genuine humble Christ-likeness. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on your definition and motive.
JAVA is a word I've never used in writing. I'm not a coffee drinker, and don't stop at Java Huts, but it still has a friendly, relaxed connotation in my mind...
WAVE brings to mind the Jersey shore where I played and got pummelled in the surf growing up. The California surf was a nearer drive when our own kids were little. We boogie boarded there just once and were mistaken by some enthusiastic Texan tourists as picture-worthy 'real surfers!!'. It was a humorous moment of 'glory'.
Well, if you have read along this far, you are beginning to wonder when this will end. There are many more words---STAIN, what blood and sin does and what paradoxically only Jesus' blood can wash away. PLAZA, and my mind flits back to the zocalo in Oaxaca, a central plaza of benches and happy family meanders, and toddlers and popsicles. BIER, ah, the widow of Nain is all that comes to mind for this one. Jesus stopped the funeral procession and turned it into a joyous parade by giving her back her son alive! Did the son go on to outlive his mother? For her sake, I hope so. And with the word DREG I'm back to Zapotec-land in Mexico. Dregs are what’s at the bottom of the Coffee cauldron brewing on the fire. You don't want the last drop!
But that's enough of trivia. After I'd scribbled down two sides of a page of word associations from my own history, I got to wondering how many of our game words are recorded in Scripture? That sent me off on a whole new line of thought... If you care to come along here's what I found:
WAX is about more than candles melting. Mountains are said to melt like wax at the Lord's presence and Jesus' heart melted like wax in the agony of crucifixion (Ps.22).
And, if you're reading King James English, wax is a verb. God's wrath waxes hot when widows and orphans are harmed and when His people disregard His covenant. Eyes wax old (Eli's) as do people, their clothes, and the earth itself! Love waxes cold because of sin. And evil men shall wax worse and worse. This world isn’t getting better!
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Is.51:6 KJV
Do we find a KNIFE mentioned in the Bible?
Abraham carried one along with the fire to burn his sacrifice. Isaac shouldered the wood. But God provided the ram.
Oh, and I just read this one in Judges. Gruesome. A gal was cut in twelve pieces with a knife and her body parts sent throughout the land to notify all Israel of the outrage that had been committed against her, (resulting in her death) and to rally all Israel to battle against the offenders (Judges 19)
Much later in Israel’s history a scroll containing God's warning to the King of Israel, as dictated by Jeremiah, was sliced section by section with a knife and thrown into the fire in disregard. The words however did not go away. They were re-dictated and written down and they came to pass... (Jer. 36:24) God's words are worth noting well. They are not going away.
A graceful DOE in scripture is used as a picture of the wife of one's youth--an object to be delighted in.
"Doe of the Dawn" is an expression describing the morning star, the last star to shine at the break of day. And interestingly this was the name of the tune assigned to accompany the prophetic Psalm 22 which begins, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Rev.22:16
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts... II Pet.1:19
EWE occurs nearly fifty times in Scripture, mostly in passages detailing the sacrificial system requirements. But the most poignant passage is Nathan's parable told to King David of the poor man who kept his one little ewe lamb as a pet...until a rich lord seized and slaughtered it for a meal for his company. This is what David had done to Uriah, in taking his wife, Bathsheba, for himself. (II Sam.12) The ewe lamb's story hit its mark. David repented and was forgiven. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions...Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart...wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow....a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps.51 excerpts)
PIETY in Scripture refers to reverence or respect and is used of the Athenians who worshiped 'The Unknown God'. It is also expected that believers in the true God will 'show piety at home' in practical ways such as the care of one's own widowed relatives.
The WAVES of the Jersey shore aren't specifically cited in the Bible, but their actions are. The one who doubts that God will grant his request for wisdom is likened to a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. I recall this text in James (1:5-8) often, as I am naturally a doubter, but by God's grace I am learning to trust. His Word is a trustworthy foundation that will keep us from being washed away in the flood surges of life! (Mt.7:24)
The thing about STAINS is that when it comes to sin, the stains are indelible, not removed by any amount of human effort. I like the way Jeremiah says it:
Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. Jer.2:22 ESV
This is a good reminder of our need for the Gospel continuously and brings to mind my week's memory verses:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,... I Cor.15:1-4 ESV
With that I will conclude this meandering trivia lesson. (Thanks for coming along!) It brings us full circle to the Words worth holding onto and building our lives around day by day.
Whether or not you play Words with Friends (or sisters!) is irrelevant. Only be sure that you are digging deep for the Words that matter!
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Ps.119:105
P.S. It would be fun to hear what associations come to your mind with some of these words. Add a comment if you like!