who loses her family and everything she has during the rule of Hitler. She ends up with only a copy
of “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” that she steals from her brother’s grave and a foster family to live with.
During her time living with them, they take in a young man who is Jewish. He becomes gravely ill
and there is much danger in his staying with them. During his illness, Liesel begins to read to him.
Any book that she can get her hands on, she reads to him. As Max is recovering they spend much
time talking. For Christmas he gives her a journal and tells her to write. He says, “ Write. In my
religion we're taught that every living thing, every leaf, every bird, is only alive because it contains
the secret word for life. That's the only difference between us and a lump of clay. A word. Words are
This struck me deeply, because just like Liesel I developed a love for books and reading at a young age.
I had not lost my parents to death or gone through what Liesel had, but I had losses of my own. I spent
most of my young years, and teenage years alone and books and music became my friends. When
things were rough at home I could escape in a book. I could forget what was happening around me
and live in another world for a few hours. Those books, those words, helped me get through to the
other side of it all.
I came to understand later what the power of words were. When I came to faith in the Lord, and began
to read the Word, there was so much power there. In Genesis it says that God spoke the world and all
creation into existence. With His Words!
I am sure that all of us have heard that saying, “Think before you speak”. Our words have power.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Our words bring life and hope or
death and destruction. How many times have you seen someone speak sharp words to another and
just see that person wilt under the barrage? Or seen someone who is in despair or afraid and someone
speaks words of faith and hope to them and you see them revive in response to the words spoken?
As I think about what Max said to Liesel it is such a beautiful picture of our lives in Christ. We, as
Christians are only truly alive because inside of us is that secret word for life. That Word is Jesus
Christ Himself. His love, His life, His Spirit. In John 1:1-5, 9, 12-13, we see Jesus is the Word; “In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that
was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it. That was the true Light which gives light to every man
coming into the world...as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children
of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man, but of God.”
His light, His life, His Spirit lives inside of us. His Spirit reveals the Truth of the Word to us so that
we can be that light to a dark and dying world. We are His Word revealed to others.
I read of an experiment once. A professor told students in secret to go up to another student during
the day and to remark on how tired that student looked, how that student looked like he might be
sick or coming down with something. At the first encounter as the student is told how tired he looks,
he says, no I’m just fine. At the third or fourth encounter the student starts thinking, wow maybe I
am getting a bug or something. By the end of the day that student is on his way back to the dorm
feeling as sick as a dog and has no understanding of what hit him so fast.
Our words have power. We have the power to be encouraging or dishearten others with our words.
We have the ability to breathe hope and inspiration to others or to suck all the oxygen out of the
room with our negativity. We have the choice as to what comes out of our mouths. And it has a
lot to do with what we put into our heart and mind and spirit first. If we are spending time in the
Word, in prayer, in contemplating the thoughts of God, that is what we are going to be expressing
to others. If we spend our time with negative things, no matter what they are, that is what we are
going to share. That old adage in computer sciences, “Garbage in, garbage out” applies to all we do.
A word spoken in love brings edification and optimism and words spoken in anger bring discourage-
ment and hopelessness. So we need to share the Truth that is in us. We need to share the light and
the hope that sustains us. We need to let our light so shine and our words build up, not tear down.
It just takes a word.
So, what is in a word? Or rather what is in the Word, Jesus? Hope, faith, love, grace, mercy, peace,
joy...the list goes on and on.
Go spread the Word.