“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
“For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11
The Word. It is always effective, ready to penetrate the hardened heart as easily as a well-tuned chain saw slices into heart of a tree, to reveal its age and history. So God’s word has the power to divide our being between what the world tries to define us as, and that which we truly are in our call to holiness in the image of our Maker. Just as God knows the core of the tree before it is revealed, so He understands fully our hearts. Nothing is concealed from His gaze.
It is for our sake that sometimes in taking up the Word of God, our hearts are pierced. The Good Physician opens the wound to free us from the poison of our lives, and heal us, making us ready containers for His Spirit to dwell. Sometimes, when we read or listen to the Word of God, it doesn’t seem to penetrate anything; it seems to be just words. But just as the passage from Isaiah claims, the Word ‘shall not return to God void, but shall do his will, achieving the end for which it is sent.’ Over time, and perseverance, we begin to see the workings of the Word in our lives.
Saint Teresa of Avila is very encouraging on this point. She would tell her Sisters, when they find themselves confronted by an obstacle – whether it be a person, an attitude, a sin – to simply ask God to remove it. And keep asking until He does.
Perhaps there is an obstacle that we are not aware of? Then let us ask God to reveal it. Naming our obstacles takes away any power they may have over us, in the same way that confronting our vices makes it possible for us to avoid their occasions and build resistance to them.
The Word, by picking it up daily, is consenting to have God work in our lives. And, little by little, it will cleanse and purify our hearts to desire God more and more, giving us strength to endure. In this way, the Word of God will ‘achieve the end for which it was sent’.