I’ve been conducting an experiment over the past week. And before I tell you the experiment, I do want to toss out the disclaimer that the very nature of the experiment might make some of you think that I’ve completely fallen off my rocker and gone off of the reservation. I assure you that I am as sound of mind as I ever have been. But, losing my job and living in a tiny house that can be cleaned in its entirety in about an hour has left me with a greater abundance of time than I have been accustomed to over the past few years.
All to say, I have more time for experiments.
Last week I was chatting with a very dear friend who was doing a science lesson with her kids and discussing the ways that God has set our world into order. They end up talking about something called the Fibonacci Sequence which is a complex mathematical calculation ultimately exemplifying what is often referred to as the “golden ratio of order.” This sequence of numbers forms a perfectly distanced spiral no matter how large the spiral becomes.
Bear with me…I know I’m getting technical on you here. It’s about to get worse before it gets better.
Anyhow, a Fibonacci spiral is formed with a calculation of a sequence of numbers, where the next number is equal to the sum of the two before it. Starting with 0 and 1, the sequence goes 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on and so forth. Any two successive Fibonacci numbers have a ratio very close to the Golden Ratio, which is roughly 1.618034. The larger the pair of Fibonacci numbers, the closer the approximation. (Obviously, my non-scientific self has had to do extensive research to even try to explain this much.)
Yes, I know…that’s a lot of words that get pretty complicated. I’ll post a video at the end that explains this even better than I can. But don’t watch it til the end.
But for right now, in layman’s terms, what this is basically saying is that in a case of perfect mathematical order, stuff forms a really lovely spiral and it happens in nature all the time. Think of things like a nautilus shell, the seeds on a pinecone, the perfect spiral shape of a wave crashing on a beach, or of the entire Milky Way in the sky. There’s a perfect order to the way the molecules align.
And because I’m a huge fan of the way that God creates things, I love how he does it so often with such gorgeous order for us to see. I love that even though sometimes the world can feel pretty whack, there is the assurance of nature all around us reminding us that we serve and are deeply loved by a God who delights in order.
So then my friend shares that she and her daughter had been discussing the power of words as they relate to the world around us. And because we believe that the Bible is the absolutely true and infallible word of God, then the things that God has to say about how we use our words ring true as well. Our words have the capacity to change things…our words can be impactful to cause order or disorder.
Scripture talks all over about the power of our tongues to change atmospheres and outcomes, and if we didn’t believe that was true at all then I think it would go without saying that prayer itself would be a completely futile exercise.
I’m a huge believer in prayer. I’ve seen it change lives, circumstances, outcomes, and people. I believe that prayer is our greatest tool and weapon to see the world around us change.
Anyhow…back to my friend.
So, she tells me that she and her daughter decided to do an experiment.
They got two identical plastic lidded containers and measured one cup of tap water into each container. One container they labeled “blessed” and the other they labeled “cursed.” They then proceeded to speak every awful word they could think of over the “cursed” water and every kind and good word they could think of over the blessed water.
Then they froze the water. (For wondering minds, I googled it and typically it takes about three hours for 1 cup of water to freeze.) My friends did it overnight.
The next morning when they dumped out the frozen water bowls, the bowl they had blessed had a very clear Fibonacci spiral at the center where the bubbles had been. That bowl of water had frozen in perfect order. The bowl that they had cursed though had slashes all throughout the block of ice. The bubbles were disrupted and chaotic, the water appeared almost cloudy, and there were cracks all through the frozen mass.
She sent me pictures. The difference was obvious.
Now you know that I’m a curious person, so obviously I wanted to try this for myself…immediately. As soon as my kids got home from school I told them about the experiment and insisted that they join me to do it.
“Mom….this is the stupidest thing ever. Can we just go outside?!”
“No. This is amazing. Let’s do it. Ok…now think of all the nasty things you can say and say it to this bowl of water right here.” I labeled that bowl with a “C” for “cursed.”
Needless to say, they both saw this as an opportunity to use words we don’t normally allow like “sucks” and “butthole”, but for the sake of the experiment I didn’t do much more than raise a disapproving eyebrow. Once we had exhausted the nasty words of the moment, we turned our attention to our “B is for blessed” bowl.
We then began speaking lots of nice words to this bowl of water (which in the world of two competitive brothers can sometimes be harder to come by). We told the water it was lovely and orderly, that it was good for the soul, balanced, and clear. I had more nice things to say to the water than they did. Had it been Gatorade we were blessing they may have been more generous.
Then I froze the water overnight and popped them both out of the Tupperware containers the following morning.
It was exactly as my friend had shown me that her water had come out. Perfect spiral in the clear, blessed water, and disorder and cracks in the cursed on.
“Mom. For real. Like I’m going to just believe that. It’s a sample size of one. Why don’t you freeze some plain water that you don’t do anything to?” My nearly 13 year-old chided me, his unbelief and question of my sanity clearly on display.
“Fine then.” I said, as I grabbed two more containers, measured a cup of tap water into each one and put into the freezer without a single word. “We will check these when you get home from school.”
So, that afternoon, we popped out the plain water only to find that they had each frozen solid and practically, perfectly clear. Not a single thing had happened to the center of either bowl.
“Ok fine Mom. But you have still only done the blessed/cursed experiment once. Use this water and bless one and curse the other and then see what happens.” My doubting Thomas spoke up again.
“Fine. I will. I’ll let it sit here and melt and when it does I’ll do it again.” So that’s exactly what I did.
And lo and behold, the next morning it was just as before. Blessed one clear with an ordered spiral in the center, and the cursed one cracked and cloudy.
My kids and husband all started to believe it at this point too.
Listen you guys, I fully realize that this is about as weird as a fish riding a bicycle. But at the end of the day, I’ve seen it with my own eyes and because apparently my mustard seed of faith is so small, I’ve done it repeatedly over the past few days…every single time to the same ultimate effect. The blessed one is totally different looking frozen than the cursed one.
And since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about words. Like A LOT.
I’ve been thinking about wise words and unwise ones. Words that speak blessing and ones that curse. Words that build up and words that tear down.
When I’m honest with myself, I have been responsible for speaking words that fall into all of those categories over my lifetime. And really, I probably have spoken every manner of words even just yesterday.
I like words. I think them and I write them. I can use them to change the course of someone else’s day…for better or for worse. I have seen them restore things that appeared broken and I’ve seen them break things that seemed unshakeable. I’ve heard words spoken that shift atmospheres and change outcomes. I’ve experienced words that set captives free, and I have walked alongside people who have been imprisoned by words as well.
Words are powerful.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Nonsense. Bones heal faster and ultimately in the places they broke are stronger. Words though… the wounds of words can last a lifetime.
The Bible is clear about our words over and over. We are responsible for the ways in which we wield them, and they have the power to give life or destroy it. Kings and prophets and followers of Jesus knew this well…they knew too well the power of the tongue.
David knew his words could cause trouble and in Psalm 141:3 said, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”
King Solomon, arguably one of the wisest men to ever live, had plenty to say on the subject as well all throughout the Proverbs.
Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”
Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 18:21 – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 12:18 – Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise
Matthew 12:33-37 tells us that it’s not just our words we need to be concerned with, but our hearts that much more. Because words may be sounds spoken into the air, but our hearts are the incubation chambers for the syllables that make their way into the atmosphere.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
In Mark 11, while walking into Jerusalem, Jesus becomes hungry and happens upon a fig tree only to discover that it has no fruit. “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” he says, cursing the tree within earshot of the disciples walking alongside of him. But the next day when they are passing by again, Peter notices and exclaims that overnight the fig tree has withered and died.
And it didn’t just kind of wither either. The Bible says that it withered all the way to the roots. That tree was D.E.A.D….DEAD! And then Jesus goes on to explain it all to the disciples in versus 23-27,
“Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Our words hold the power to speak life and death. I think we forget that all too often.
And as for me, lately I’ve been really having to squelch some words that I’ve realized are in my heart to keep them from ringing out within earshot of anyone else. Sure we all do this better sometimes than others, but for crying out loud it is so so hard sometimes, right? And just because words might be true, doesn’t mean they should be spoken either.
Whether it’s with our kids or our spouses, friends or coworkers, it’s like my friend Jocelyn says, “Once it’s out, you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.”
Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I’m banking that if we can present our concerns before the Lord and He guards our hearts, in this way He is in fact guarding our tongues as well. If out of the mouth flows what’s in the heart, then while we may be required to attend to words once we have said them, we can attend to our hearts FIRST such that our words don’t become a problem.
Philippians goes on to say, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
You guys. I cannot stop thinking about this ice. I cannot stop thinking about my words. And I cannot stop thinking about how Jesus tells us that we also walk in the power of the Holy Spirit who can shift the atmosphere. Our words have the capacity to bring things into order. Our words can speak the blessing of heaven. But our words can also disrupt and crack and cloud things too.
And this isn’t just about a bowl of tap water.
Sure I can say kind words to the cashier at the grocery store and brighten her morning for the minutes I’m standing at the conveyor belt. Sometimes I can even toss an action alongside the words and make or break someone’s day.
But if we begin to realize that if our words carry this much power, then what can they do to really bring about change?
I mean, if we stick with just the water business for a minute and apply only the concept of speaking blessing or curses to water, then think for a second about how that could impact a person. If our human bodies are made up of approximately 60% water, then just by way of my little experiment, that’s more than half of our bodies that could be jacked up by negative words. Or conversely, more than half of our body in good working order.
I decided that I wanted to see what would happen if I melted the cursed water and then spoke blessing over it. I let it sit on the counter melting with the lid on to make sure no fool in my house went about drinking it…you know, just in case.
Once it melted, I spoke the exact opposite of the ugly things I’d spoken before. Where I’d called it bad, I said “water, you are no longer bad. I declare that you are good.” I’d said it was “cloudy” before and now I called it “clear.” I don’t know the exact opposite of “butthole” but I think I said it was “nice” or something to that effect. And then I froze it again.
I was expecting it to come out with the perfect nautilus and clear as the day is long. But what happened was SUPER WEIRD.
When I dumped out the container, I noticed that the top of the ice block was cracked and cloudy. It was maybe a quarter of the whole. When I flipped the ice over, the bottom though displayed the perfect nautilus suspended in clear ice around it. The majority of the water was in order, but the surface had clearly been impacted and showed the cracks and disorder.
And isn’t it that way so often with us?
I shared this whack-o experiment with a precious-to-me group of writers I’ve been in a prayer group with for the past couple of years. We formed the group when our friend Stacey’s husband unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest and was comatose and expected to die over two years ago. All we were doing was making our voices heard by using a walkie-talking like app called Voxer to come together and pray for Mike. For several months, that prayer group became a holy ground like I have rarely stood on in my life. It was as if our voices rang out in the throne room of heaven and we all got to listen in to the prayers of God’s people on behalf of one of His own. And you guys, we saw atmospheres shift, diagnoses change, and a man on his death bead come back fully into the land of the living.
Anyhow, I decided to tell them all about my little frozen experiment. I figured if anyone might hear me out just for a second, it was these gals.
My friend Kelli in the group, just adopted a little boy from China. For three years of his life he was tucked into the corner of an orphanage because no one quite knew what to do with him. Words were spoken over him like “disabled, stupid, lazy, and unmotivated,” and when Kelli and her family brought him home and doctors said “we just have to wait and see”, they haven’t quite known what they are waiting to see.
My experiment resonated with something in her heart. And here’s why I think it did, and does, and hopefully speaks life to your soul today too.
Because we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, paid for with a price so great that Almighty God can now look us in the eye and speak words of life and restoration to our hearts.
The God who put the planets into alignment in the heavens is the same one who invites us to put his perfect words into our hearts and learn to speak them out of our mouths.
The God of all Creation….of nautilus shells, and pinecones, of waves and spiral-shaped galaxies, invites us into relationship with him and calls us to steward the influence we have wisely. He invites us to speak out words that bring about order and goodness, alignment and hope, to change lives around us, including our own.
And while we live in a broken world we may still see cracks on the surface of ourselves, what lies hidden inside His perfect love which will bring everything into order and alignment with his good plans for us.
I mean….Hallelujah to that, huh?!