Wholly, Holey, Holy

I love words. I like to know where they came from, what they mean, how they’re used, what language they’re derived from. In other words, I like to know their etymology.

The English language in America is so interesting because we’ve taken words from so many languages and made them a part of our own language. Sometimes the words retain their original meanings, and sometimes they take on an entirely new meaning. Phrases we use every day can go back to the Middle Ages and be based on a very literal meaning of the words. All of this really means that I love words, puns included.

When I do a Bible study, I get into the words. I look at different translations and the words they choose to use as a translation for the Hebrew and Greek words. I use a dictionary and look up the meaning of a word, because sometimes we assume we know what a word means, but we only know one definition, and there is a greater depth of understanding when we know more about what the words mean.

So what does this all have to do I with the title of title of this blog entry?

Wholly, Holey, Holy.

Words that sound that same but have different spelling and different meanings are called homonyms. Remember studying those in grade school? So imagine singing that great hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” and wondering about the word “holy”. Without going to the dictionary, we can say that roughly speaking, it means set apart for God when it applies to us. When applied to God it speaks of holiness, righteousness, perfection, power and might.

Now imagine singing that hymn and thinking about the song, “Wholly devoted to you”. Again, without a dictionary, wholly means totally, completely, without reservation, undivided. But it sounds like Holy. Wholly devoted to being Holy.

Now make the jump to the Bible verse about being a jar full of holes.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT)

I know it doesn’t say holes, but I’ve often heard the visual of being a jar broken, cracked, full of holes, that God puts back together and uses as a vessel to hold His glory and that in fact these holes let His glory shine out through our earthen vessels for the world to see. So, we are holey.

Webster’s Dictionary gives the origin of many words. Whole, or wholly, comes from the Old English hal, which means healthy or unhurt. Holy is related to the same Old English word for whole. Hole, or holey, on the other hand, derives from the Old English hol which means to conceal or hollow. Interestingly, the word hell comes from the same Old English word! Maybe it is the “holes” in my armor that allow the enemy to attack me?

Remember I love words. So I can use these three homonyms to make a statement that sounds confusing, but is totally meaningful to me:

God is wholly devoted to making me holy and using this imperfect, holey vessel for His glorious purposes!


I wholly serve a Holy God who loves me despite my holey imperfections!

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory!

Awesome God c Becky Jane Davis

Awesome God
c Becky Jane Davis


Joy! To the World!

Joy! To the World! The Lord is Come!

This is the carol I focused on this Christmas season. The devotion on YouVersion that I did from Just Joy Ministries certainly kept my focus on the carol, but it was more than that. The words from various verses kept coming up in my thoughts.

The wonders of his love…
Let earth receive her King…
Repeat the sounding joy…
He rules the world with truth and grace…

And the punctuation in my mind was always, Joy! To the World!
Speak Joy. Shout Joy. Sing Joy.

Paul Baloche sang a version this year with these added lyrics:

Shout for joy
See what love has done
He has come for us
He’s the saving one.

A few years ago, Chris Tomlin added these lyrics to the carol:

Joy, unspeakable joy
And overflowing where no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable joy
Rises in my soul, never lets me go

Jeremy Camp adds a chorus of :

Christ is born!

Then one Sunday at church this year, the Worship Team led us in a free form singing of the carol, where we each sang lines as they came to our hearts, in what ever order the Spirit was leading us to sing. (If you’ve never sung in a free form, singing words as they come into your heart, I urge you to do this. Start in the privacy of your own home with a song you know well, then add your own words, or take the words and meditate on them as you sing and offer them up to the Lord as a sacrifice of praise.) That is what we did that morning. And it sounded something like this:

Joy! To the World! He rules the world with the wonders of His love!

Let heaven and nature sing of the wonders of His love as open hearts receive him.

The Savior reigns! The glories of his righteousness will rule the world with truth and grace!

The melody was there, the words were there, but moved around, I got all new meanings and understandings to the words of this carol. And each of us present heard and sang something different, yet the angelic choir of voices singing brought a sweet sound to the altar of the Holy One.

Every time I sang the carol this year, my heart was touched. Every time I heard it played, my heart was touched. He indeed comes to make his blessings flow! He does indeed rule with truth and grace! His love is indeed wonderful! And heaven and nature is constantly singing praises to God.

JOY TO THE WORLD- “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:9-11 NLT)

THE WONDERS OF HIS LOVE- “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.” (Psalms 17:7 NLT)

HE RULES THE WORLD WITH TRUTH AND GRACE: “Let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains shout with them for joy, Before the Lord who comes, who comes to govern the earth, To govern the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.” (Psalms 98:8, 9 NABRE)

AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING- “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” (Psalms 19:1 NLT)

Golden Sunset, California

Golden Sunset, California

Joy to the World by Isaac Watts

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

The Battle of My Will and God’s Will in Those Private Moments

From “Where the Battle is Won or Lost” by Oswald Chambers

“Our battles are first won or lost in the secret places of our will in God’s presence, never in full view of the world. The Spirit of God seizes me and I am compelled to get alone with God and fight the battle before Him. Until I do this, I will lose every time. The battle may take one minute or one year, but that will depend on me, not God. However long it takes, I must wrestle with it alone before God, and I must resolve to go through the hell of renunciation or rejection before Him. Nothing has any power over someone who has fought the battle before God and won there.”

The inner conversations I have with God are very private, between Him and me. Sometimes they are friendly, open discussions. Sometimes I cry out and ask why things are the way they are. It might take time, tears and anguish, but He will get me to the point where I recognize His will and submit my will to His ways. It often requires me to repent, ask forgiveness, and ask to be changed, but more often than not, I must forgive someone.

I am often comforted by the verse that says “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalms 56:8 NLT) Many times my discussions with God are me crying in sorrow or pain because I’ve been hurt, or I’ve been disappointed or let down, or because my dreams seem so unlikely to ever come true. Yet He collects my tears and brings me comfort. In those private, intimate times, He speaks to me of His plans and purposes.

Even in the midst of public worship, I can be alone with my God, listening to his voice speaking to me through His Word, the sermon, the words of the songs, or an image in my mind. While all around me may be focused on the service, I am having an intimate, private conversation with God, usually in some battle of will where He is molding me, convicting me, changing me,

I confess that often, if I have avoided daily Bible study and prayer, it is likely because I know there is something I’m supposed to talk about with Him and I’m avoiding it. I’m not yet ready to bend my knee to His will. For those times, I need to use those arrow prayers, “Lord soften my heart!” and wait for Him to work in me that strong desire to be close, to repair our relationship, to spend time with Him, that overrides my avoidance of whatever issue I’m dealing with at the time.

Right now I’m arguing with Him about family dynamics, holidays, my expectations and the reality I’m dealing with right now. Is it a season of my life or the way life is from now on? The battle is still going on, meaning, I have not yet bent my will to His. I know I will, because I treasure my relationship with him. But my will is strong, and my emotions high. My God is faithful and He loves me. He will find a way to get to my heart.