An inability to fully express, describe or put words around something
In 2016 I attended the most incredible wedding, ever, in my life.
And it wasn't even my own.
The wedding was at Sydney’s Town Hall, in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, next to St Andrew’s Cathedral. We huddled together on the grand staircase outside, waiting for the doors to open, watching traffic and passersby on George Street stare at us in our decked out wedding attire.
Once the doors opened, we ascended the red carpet and were shown into the Vestibule for stand up canapés and drinks, with the most gorgeous centrepieces I have ever seen. After a while, the doors opened to Centennial Hall, with its 9000 pipe organ dominating the entire end wall. Stained glass windows adorned the upper level, and marbled pillars surrounded us on the ballroom floor.
The lighting was perfect, the smoke machines were at it, the Grand Organ itself was playing, and we eased our way into the room where we would be spending the majority of the evening.
Anticipation was built and never disappointed. Every moment was timed with precision, it was choreographed to the endth degree, the music, the lighting, the smoke machines – it was taken to the next level.
I felt so loved and appreciated, and so valued to get to be a part of something that I could never have imagined or afforded on my own. My gift to the couple wouldn’t have even covered my attendance at the event, not even by half, not even by a quarter. I was a college student in the midst of what felt like nobility, and I was left a little speechless. As I tried to explain it to others, and even now, I can’t quite describe it.
Have you ever found yourself so utterly overcome with gratitude, that you can’t put words to it?
Maybe it was the day your daughter or son was born, and you first cradled them in your arms?
Maybe it was on your own wedding day, at first sight of your spouse to be?
Maybe it was being accepted to study at a particular college or being offered your dream job?
Maybe you unexpectedly won something incredible, just out of the blue?
In ancient Greece, a Christian leader called Paul wrote a letter to a small church he had planted in a city called Corinth. He was writing to them to remind them to make the final preparations for a monetary gift that they had previously said they would give to a church in a city called Jerusalem.
Paul points to the person Jesus, as the example the Corinthian church is to look at, to see what generosity looks like. This encouragement culminates in his statement “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV).
The word here for ‘indescribable’ in the original Greek, ‘anekdiegetos’, is understood to mean an inability to fully express, describe or put words around something.
Indescribable - Anekdiegetos
In this case, it is an inability to fully express, describe or put words around the gift that God has given to us – the gift of Jesus and His surpassing grace given to us.
As a Christian, when I think about Jesus and what He has done for me – my shalom salvation, which encompasses the freedom, restoration, healing, guidance, comfort and strength, He has been for me, to begin with – I am left – speechless. I cannot describe to you, not fully, not well, not articulately, all that Jesus and the message He brought to us, means to me and my life – and it was given freely, undeserved, as a gift.
This is indescribable generosity.
As Christians – or as the Christian Church, the Bride of Christ as we are sometimes described in scripture – as we consider how to action generosity in the daily decisions of our own lives – let’s remember the anekdiegetos generosity of our Father God and of Jesus. And as we meditate on this indescribable generosity, let’s place Him as our example for generosity, giving a gift to us that is so undeserved and so good that it is actually unspeakable, indescribable and altogether inexpressible.
With this is in mind and settled in our hearts, how do we view generosity? What do we have in our hand? How can we give of ourselves, to others? How can we give of our skills and talents? How can we give of our finances and resources? How can we give of our time and our energy?
What can we do differently right now, today?
When I walked into the ballroom at that wedding I was left speechless. I remained speechless most of the evening. I had never witnessed such generosity at a wedding, and with such a pure heart. The couple deeply desired point to their Father God and His goodness, and so purposed to create an inclusive, joyful and utterly unforgettable experience for all those they had invited.
Let’s be people who are indescribably generous in our daily decisions.
Let’s be a people who give so generously, with such pure hearts, that it leaves others speechless.
If we walked away from this post and resolved to do approach generosity in this way, even for one day, imagine how we would impact those within our sphere of influence.
How different would our homes and our workplaces look?
Imagine what our communities could look like.
Imagine how our world could be.
Together, let’s resolve to give of ourselves and all we have with indescribable – anekdiegetos – generosity.
Image by City of Sydney - Sydney Town Hall