Mzee Oyugi was a man in his late 60’s. He could neither read nor write. One day, he called me to help him write a letter to one of his relatives who was living some distant place. It happened that it was going to be his first ever letter to send to anyone.
I got myself a pen and a paper and sat down to help the "old man". He dictated as I wrote. When we finished writing, I suggested to him that it would be advisable that I read through the letter to counter-check with him if I captured all he said and how he said them. He agreed.
As I read the letter, he got so excited, he couldn’t hold himself. His excitement was eruptive, interrupting my reading. I kept on pausing to allow his excitement cool down before I could proceed. I would read a line or two and he would jump up with excitement, exclaiming, “Yes, that’s right! Exactly! Yes, I said that!” I would start reading again and he would go again, “That is exactly what I said, it is true I said that, yes I said it!” It was becoming difficult reading through the letter. It was a mystery to him.
Finally, I finished reading through and Tonyno (his nickname) couldn’t hide his amusement and satisfaction. As I was leaving, he commented, “I never knew that a paper (the letter) could talk so clearly. This means that my relative will get exactly what I said just like I would be talking with him face-to-face”.
After I had left, the "old man"—as we used to call him for purposes of respect—had a better idea. He started wondering about the mystery of the "talking paper". He thought that since I was there when he was talking, perhaps I could recount what he said from my memory. He thought to himself, "What about taking this letter to someone who wasn’t there when we were writing it?"
And that is what he did. He crossed to the neighbourhood and took the letter to someone who was not present where we wrote it. The person read his words—exactly what he said. It was this person who later came and told me how the "old man" went berserk when he heard his own words from someone who wasn’t present where we wrote the letter.
Thank God for the civilisation of writing! The Bible tells us that the Scripture was inspired by God’s Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21) and people that God ordained for this noble task captured it by writing it down—just as He said it. Thanks to God again! He did not make the Scripture "too spiritual" to be of any good to us—He never used angels or super-humans to write it. He, instead, used human vessels.
Did you know that when you read God’s Word or speak it back to Him, He wouldn’t disown it saying that He was misquoted? Did you know that anytime you lift God’s promises on His face, He would exclaim, ‘That is exactly what I said!?’ Did you know how much God gets excited when you read His Word back to Him? Did you know how meaningful it is to worship God in accordance to His Word—His will; His purpose; His Knowledge; His attributes? etc.
The excitement of Tonyno when he heard his words being read to him is not just for those who marvel at the mystery of reading and writing because they don't know how to read and write. Even people who know how to read and write get excited when they hear their own words being quoted or read by others. At the college, we were always aware that professors like it when you quote from their books.
Whenever you get an assignment or a test from your teacher, you are likely to score well if you pay tribute to him in the subject. Quoting your teacher shows that you acknowledge his authority. It also means that you pay attention whenever he is teaching you. But there are ‘rules’ guiding the quotations. For you to get rewarded, you have to quote in context. That is to say, it has to be relevant and accurate.
How much can you quote the Professor? How much have you made the Author of the Word of life excited by reading His words back to Him? How often do you do this?