I competed in my fifth grade spelling bee. I was one of the biggest fifth graders in the elementary school. Kind of like those sixteen year old Puerto Rican pitchers with beards who illegally compete in the Little League World series…the only difference is that I belonged in the fifth grade.
None of these words were a match for my dizzying prebubescent intellect.
Twenty or so fellow class finalists stood before our school in the cafeteria/auditorium. After a few rounds the stage whittled down to a handful of contestants. I made it all the way to the final four. The top three went to the County wide spelling bee where a big gold plastic award and an eternity of local fame awaited you.
The final word given by the judges to me was:
I was flippant in my respect for the stage and this word. I could spell this word backwards while playing “Sonic The Hedgehog.” I spoke into the mic confidently, yet a little too quickly than I should have.
I waltzed back to my seat, like Michael Jordan after hitting a buzzer beating game winning shot.
“Incorrect” said the judge in a bland tone.
I was dismayed as I took my seat with my fellow classmates. I knew I spelled it right. My teacher sat down beside me and asked me to re-spell it for her. She knew I spelled it right.
She made an appeal to the judges. They reviewed the tape and the decision stood. In my hurried haste I had pronounced the “M” to sound more like an “N” to them.
My brief stint of Spelling Bee legend wilted like a geranium in the Sahara.
Sometimes it is easy to be correct in truth and fact, yet wrong in presentation of it.
The burden of clarity is mostly on the communicator.
Orthodox meanderings divorced from a broken humbled heart can muddle rather than clarify the gospel we share.
Let’s not be a cocky fifth grader in our presentation of Christ to the world. There is no other message in all eternity that should be handled with more care. So much more is at stake with our speech than a long forgotten fourth place finish.