This weekend more than ever I wish I had the language skills to understand Spanish. We were working in a community in Mexico and many times throughout the day I was asked questions that I could not answer. And even when I kind of got what they were saying to me, I lacked the vocabulary to respond in their language. We made it through though. They, with their patience and me, with pantomime and baby-talk. This was not the best-case scenario for building a relationship.
My own relationship with the Bible has had the same moments. The words, even though written in my language, were foreign to my ear. I read and listened, but much of it did not make sense. But over time, I began to catch on to some words and phrases along with the ideas behind them. This didn’t happen overnight. Much like language learning, I had to spend time reading and listening to grasp hold to their meaning.
I have a friend who moved to Germany to become part of the community there and share the story of Jesus with her neighbors. The first thing she had to do was learn the language. She had to immerse herself in the culture and listen to get the grasp of what her neighbors were saying. Little-by-little she became fluent. When I saw her recently, I could tell that English had actually become her secondary language. She now thinks in German, and when speaking to me she had to translate her thoughts back into English. Occasionally, she even started her sentence in German, and then realized it was English I needed. It was quite comical to see her face when she realized her mistake. But what can you expect after being living the language for ten years?
My point, I guess, is even the words of the Bible are a different language to worldly ears. They sound foreign and the ideas seem strange at first, but the more time spent ‘hearing’ them through study, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more they become part of us until we begin to talk and think with them. When God whispers them back to us throughout the day, we don’t have to guess what He is talking about because it has become the language we think in, as well.
Some people call the language they first learned their ‘heart’ language. In the case of my friend in Germany, her ‘heart’ language has changed. She now understands, speaks, and thinks in German. Even though I would love to speak Spanish fluently, I hope my ‘heart’ language will be the one found in the words of the Bible. Those are the words God inspired that will give me everything I need to live this life the way He would like me to. It will take time and diligence, but in the end, it will be worth it.
The good man brings good things out of the good treasury of his heart . . .
Hiding God’s word in my heart has developed time. One of the most effective ways I have found is using the SOAK method of study. It helps me to slow down and, you got it, SOAK in the word. Check it out in my post No Connection.
Also, I have co-written a devotional journal that uses the method and can help you get started. To find out how you can get a copy of Legacy: Living NOW for Future Generations, A study in Second Timothy leave your request in the comments.