“Most people go through their entire life never speaking words to another human being that come out of what is deepest within them, and most people never hear words that reach all the way into that deep place we call the soul” (13). This is the burden that Larry Crabb seeks to address in Soul Talk: The Language God Longs for Us To Speak. He argues that “Every conversation either stimulates or dampens our desire for God” (26). As a result, in Soul Talk he seeks to address the question: “How can conversations between followers of Jesus become a stage on which the supernatural power of God is unmistakably displayed” (29)?
Crabb worries that “We live in a day when the life that God has given to every Jesus follower is counterfeited, contrived, neglected, hidden, unreleased, and generally not believed in” (43). Crabb further laments that “most of us are never known by a safe friend, never explored by a curious friend, and never discovered by a hopeful friend. And that is a tragedy, as harmful to the soul as AIDS is to the body. Hearts are not changed. Or hearts that have been changed by the Spirit at conversion to Christ are not released” (56).
Later, Crabb argues that if Jesus were speaking directly to our culture today he would say that we have “a heart problem. My people want something more than they want me. And it’s ruining them… Learn to speak with power into people’s lives. Arouse their desire for me until their thirst for me consumes them” (60).
If it seems that I am just listing off a string of quotes, I guess in some ways I am. Honestly, I am trying to force myself to slow down as I read this book to work to process some of it more deeply. I think I have experienced the kind of edifying conversation that Crabb yearns for believers to experience. I have felt times where I was burdened to say something to someone when we were talking – but it wasn’t about me. I really felt that the Spirit was prompting me to speak into someone else’s life.
These kinds of experiences are hard to articulate or explain in hindsight. In some ways, rereading what I just wrote, I feel like it sounds too mystical or otherworldly. Really, it is just a feeling of being in the presence of God. Peace and joy are the two words that come to mind.
These experiences are profound and sometimes life changing. If nothing else, when our hearts connect with another believer at a deep level, we are encouraged to focus on God and what God is seeking to do in our lives. And yet, I think Crabb is largely right- I am not sure very many Christians experience this level of “watching over one another in love”. I don’t know why. It may be that some people want to, but genuinely don’t know how. Or it may be that others are afraid that if anyone else really knew them, that they would leave or reject them.
I am afraid I may be putting too much hope in this book, because I am really hoping that it will help me to lead others into this kind of conversation. From my experience, I would say that when you can really open yourself up to a brother or sister in Christ in the presence of the Holy Spirit, those are holy moments where God’s gracious, healing, and restoring presence is especially tangible. I believe what Crabb refers to as “Soul Talk” is a major way that God’s Spirit renews people in the image that they were created in and enables them to grow in holiness.
Does this arouse a passion in you? What questions, issues, or other thoughts do you have? Have you read this book or had experience with deep Christian conversation? I would love to hear your thoughts and dialogue more about this.