Two Conversations

Two Conversations

“Her thoughts at the meeting today were critical!” he texted.

What’s that supposed to mean? Were her words were extremely important, or shockingly negative?

Mutter im Konflikt mit Tochter - Pubertt - StreitEveryone knows how a text message or an email can be misunderstood because we miss the tone in someone’s voice. The same set of words can be said with appreciation or hostility. Tone is vitally important, because as author Don Miller said, there are always two conversations going on—the one with words, and the one that reveals feelings. The latter makes all the difference.

How can we better understand the tone of God’s voice if all we have is the Bible? Like a text or an email, what if we get it wrong? What if we experience a boatload of condemnation when reading the Old Testament?

Woman with headache, overwhelmed with lifeOr how about Paul’s statements concerning women: were they condescending or matter-of-fact, and would knowing his tone of voice change our perception? And ultimately, if God is the Author of all Scripture, how can we go beyond the printed words to experience His heart?

Well for one thing, that’s why God came in person. Jesus’s earthly life gave us a deeper look at the heart of God. He could’ve come in His glory as “the King of kings.” Instead He entered the normal way, as a baby, making Himself accessible to ordinary people. He entered the fray, ignoring all kinds of personal-space rules…speaking to the woman at the well, welcoming little children, and touching unclean lepers. He let doubting Thomas feel His nail-pierced hands and honored a prostitute who bathed His feet in perfume.

He even washed feet.

Jesus Walks on WaterIn short—Jesus was completely approachable. Actions help convey the spirit and tone of someone’s words.

Still, there has to be more. In human relationships, would you be content to just know stories about your father? Stories about what he said or did with other people in other places? Of course not! But many Christians settle for that when it comes to knowing God for themselves.

Think about it this way…If a DVD had been made of Jesus during his earthly life and placed in a time capsule only to be discovered years later, wouldn’t it be the most-viewed video on YouTube? Wouldn’t people watch it over and over to hear His voice, catch His smile, or look into His eyes? An immense amount of communication happens when you experience someone directly with your own senses.

Jesus Pic 1Hollywood knows this. They’ve been making movies about Jesus for over a century. They cater to our cravings, as we wonder what was He was like in person. Was Jesus really an austere man as depicted my Max von Sydow in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)–a movie criticized for being too pretty, too stilted, and too American. Godspell cover

Or how about the counterculture Jesus in the musical, Godspell (1973)?

Jesus of NazarethSome say that Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977) is best, but did Jesus have a British accent and blue eyes?

The PassionOr do we embrace Jim Caviezel’s portrayal in The Passion Of The Christ (2004)—playfully flicking water at his mother, doing miracles and taking on the sins of the world. Christianity Today’s review says that “more than any recent director, Gibson captures the grand supernatural conflict which gives the death of Christ its meaning.”

But even with ginormous budgets, splendiferous cinematography, skillful acting and directing—no movie can completely give us Jesus as He truly was and is.

And that’s why Jesus had a lot to say about sending the Holy Spirit in His place. The Holy Spirit helps us experience God, and we can gauge the tone of God’s voice.

LoveFor example, many years ago, I felt unloved as a wife. My marriage hit rock bottom in the mid- 80’s, and I turned to God in my desperation. One day, while reading Song of Solomon, I came across these words:

“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10

I knew this was God saying to me…”You are My Beloved and My desire is for you.” It became an I-love-you verse between God and me. It’s one thing to read John 3:16 and know in my head that God loves me. But when I repeatedly see 7:10 on clocks, receipts, and license plates, I feel God’s love for me in a profoundly personal way. It’s not only the message, but also the timing of it. This is the work of the Spirit.


On my birthday a few years ago, my 2-year-old granddaughter was fooling with the digital clock in my car. Eventually she got bored and experimented with the window wipers. I glanced at the clock. She’d unknowingly set it at 7:10. I smiled. What are the odds, if it’s just a random thing? In my heart, I know it’s not chance. God is determined to show His passion for me. And that is why we need the Holy Spirit.

What’s your experience?



  1. gee, i can’t remember what i’ve shared her regarding this subject…i have given examples before. maybe i told about how god used pictures of lighthouses for 2 years in guiding my husband and me in decision making and sending assurance in many cases which could in no way shape or form be “flukes” and finally an absurdly over the top answer to a HUGE question…using a lighthouse that was engraved in a bathtub shower door. which had been removed and set up against a wall in a dimly lit hall with other stuff leaning against it partly obscuring it. oh it’s a grrrrreat tale! and when you know that you know that you know in no uncertain terms that god through the holy spirit is talking to your heart, there is nothing like it in this whole wide world. god is good. that’s what we HAVE to keep fixing our eyes upon.
    suzee B