“I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is.”
Sometimes, expressions get lodged in my mind and I can’t seem to get rid of them until I give them what they want…time in the spotlight. Granted, my bulb isn’t too bright, but seeing as how these thoughts have been lurking in the shadows, even the faintest shaft of light seems to bring them out of hiding and onto “center stage”. There, with the other thoughts temporarily taking on understudy status, these unrelenting expressions command my full attention and I sit back and allow them to have their say, and then exit stage left. Occasionally, if they don’t quite have their act together, I have to drop the curtain on them before the second act, but usually I don’t cause a scene…so that they may create one.
Recently, however, I attended a showing for the expression, “It speaks volumes!”, but rather than finding the saying packing its bags after the performance, I found it still hanging around. So, I thought that perhaps it just needed a bigger stage…and a larger audience. Maybe, if I treat it like the star it wishes to be (and thinks it is), it will graciously bow out of my mental theater. So, if you would be so kind as to pull up a chair (they are super-comfy and come with a limitless supply of popcorn…as all imaginary chairs should) and cast some of your own light onto this drama queen of an expression, perhaps it will feel adequately appreciated and call it curtains after this showing. So, without further ado, and back by its own popular demand…I give to you “It Speaks Volumes!”
Act I, Scene 1
“It speaks volumes.” What an interesting expression. Have you ever really thought about what it means? Sure, it’s used to reference something that stands above and beyond a sea of other somethings, but I think there might be more to it than that. I think, like its mathematical counterpart, it is a formula for better living…for higher living…for voluminous living.
In math, V = l x w x h; which, simply stated, means volume equals length times width times height. It’s the formula used to determine the capacity for something that is fillable. Without the presence of height, there is no volume, but only a flat area (A = l x w). Now, if you take this mathematical truth and lay it alongside the expression “It speaks volumes,” you find a correlation that cannot be denied. For something to “speak volumes”, it must not only have length and width in its structural makeup but it must also have height; it must have an elevation higher than its surroundings.
But, just how is this formula applicable outside of the world of mathematics? How does this describe the shape of man as well as the capacity of a container? Well, for one to live a life that “speaks volumes” he must multiply the length of his days, by the width of his relationships with others, by the height of his relationship with God. Without God, there is no height. Without height, there is nothing to be filled. Without filling, there is nothing of which others may “speak volumes”.
Act I, Scene 2
So, just how does one receive height? By asking the One who left great heights, to pull him to great heights, that he might one day ascend to great heights! It’s a spiritual component, this addition of height. We are all born with length; we are all given a certain number of days in which to walk this earth. We are also given width; we are surrounded by people with whom we interact and interject as we live out the length of our days. But for height…for volume…we need to be pulled up, and for this we need the hand of the Almighty. Only God can take that which is flat and form it into something that can be filled so that it may become a vessel through which He can display His glory. When we live upwardly, then we can live outwardly, and then we can have lives that “speak volumes” about the One who lives within us.
Act I, Scene 3
Monumental living; that’s what we’re here for. Not that we might proclaim our own name, but that we might stand tall as a testimony to God’s grace and to God’s architectural ability. When we invite God to work on us, we give Him the freedom to erect beams of faith, and floors of hope, and walls of love. The more access we give Him, the more scaffolding He erects, and the more height we attain…for His glory. Just as monuments of stone were constructed by the Israelites to serve as visible reminders of the work God had done in their lives, so too are we to be living monuments who testify of the work God has done (and is doing) in our lives. With our full capacity, we are to be filled with praise and overflowing with proclamations about the One who took us to great heights and who allows our life to “speak volumes” about our Heavenly Father.
As our spiritual eyes scan the horizon, we see the structures of those whose bodies have gone before us but whose buildings remain around us. We see those whose lives continue to speak volumes because they did not settle for the length and width of life, but looked to God Most High for height, and depth, and volume, and capacity. Men like Joseph, and Paul, and George Mueller; women like Ruth, and Lydia, and Gladys Aylward; and hundreds and thousands more. Some names cast shadows around the whole world, others cast shadows over their corner of the world, but all who received earthly height through Christ Jesus have left behind a monument of faith that continues to be visible today.
So, upon this voluminous truth, should nothing else arise, this question must: what will we add to the spiritual landscape of our day? Will we settle for no-rises that “cover areas” or will we strive for high-rises that “speak volumes”? Will we be structures that God can fill for man’s good and for the Son of Man’s glory or will we be sidewalks that, unless stepped upon, are never noticed? If we could step into the future to look back on the past we are presently creating, would our lives be visible as we scanned the spiritual landscape of our day?
“It speaks volumes!” It’s more than just an expression, it’s an equation, it’s an epiphany, and…in time…it may become our eulogy. When God enters the equation, we cease to live lives that are flat and we begin to live lives that are filled…and visible. Let’s not overlook the purpose of the capacity being created within us, but allow it to become a testimony to God and a monument for others, that they too might know the width and the length and the depth of God’s love…and live lives that “speak volumes” for the generations yet to come.
(Stage lighting dims; the curtain falls, theater lighting returns, audience prepares to leave.)
Thank you for being such an attentive audience…I hardly you heard you once! I think your presence had just the affect I was hoping for. I hear the shuffling of trunks as the cast of “It Speaks Volumes!” packs up and prepares to head out for their next tour…in another’s mind. I appreciate your patronage as well as your placation and, should you ever need me to hold the spotlight for your stage-craving thoughts, I hope you will send (telepathically) the invitation right over. Of course, I will expect the same comfy seating and tasty refreshments that I so lavishly bestowed upon you…but that shouldn’t be a problem…after all, I can always bring mine with me!