Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our Mother Tongue

Today my parents invited us to accompany them to a fund raiser evening of music and food. The performers were a group of Mennonite musicians from Paraguay. Do you know them, Betty ?

It was an evening that reached down into recesses of my childhood memories. This group spoke and sang in the languages that filled my growing up years ... German and the dialect of Low German. I no longer have any occasion to hear or use either of these languages and I was tugged back to feel the emotions of yester-years.

As I sat listening I realized how much I valued my mother tongue. The familiarity of the sounds, the nuances of meaning - that can only be understood when they were felt before the words themselves could be defined, are never forgotten.

And I thought how powerful the first childhood languages are in leaving a lasting impression on who we are ... and always we are drawn back to the warm comfort of their sounds even though a subsequent stronger language becomes our language of choice -- in word and thought.

Toward the end of the program, one of the musicians told of an experience he had had just a couple of weeks ago.

The fund raiser concert was for children in Paraguay, and one of the supported projects was a school in Filadelfia, for deaf children.

This musician had had occasion to visit this school and spend a half day in the classroom with the children and their teacher. The classroom was quiet since the children spoke with sign language.

At some point, the teacher pointed out to the musician six year old twin girls who had been at the school for six months. She told him that they came from a family of deaf/mutes and their older siblings had all gone through the school. Their parents also were deaf/mute and communicated with sign language to each other and to their children. Their home was a very quiet one.... devoid of human voice. Not a word was spoken.

Shortly after the little girls arrived at the school... the surprising discovery was made that the little girls were not deaf at all.. in fact there was nothing wrong with them at all. They were perfectly normal in every way. But because they had grown up in a family where no one ever spoke they did not know that they could hear. They did not know that the sound of human voices was a form of communication and so had never learned to separate the sounds into meaningful words. They were now very quickly learning to understand and to speak.... but unless they were engaged in their lessons or were verbally spoken to, they unconsciously slipped back into sign language to speak to each other.

I saw such a clear spiritual picture here.

We are all born into a world that communicates with human voice and human languages. We hear with our physical ears and it does not occur to us that there is another way to hear.
We do not know that we are NOT spiritually deaf.

But then one day someone tells us about a God who desires to communicate with us... a God whose Voice we can hear and understand.

We hear the gospel and recognizing our need for Him accept His invitation to be born again into His kingdom. We become the "sheep of His pasture" we "hear His Voice".

How wonderful!

But have you noticed that even as believers who know that we can 'hear' the God of all creation who is our Father .... we slip so easily back into our carnal 'mother tongue' ?

We may listen when we read His Word or talk to Him in prayer ... but then how often we go out into our day and forget that we have spiritual ears.

1Co 3:1 "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ."

How often we listen first for the 'language' of the world - it is familiar , it is comfortable. Then only when we are in trouble or in need we remember that we have another higher way of 'hearing'.

Is our goal not to mature to the point where our spiritual ears are the first ones that we tune our minds to? That the Voice and Words of our Shepherd become so clear that the voices of this world "grow strangely dim" ?

Mat 11:15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear! "



ru4real said...

What a beautiful illustration! May the Voice and Words of our Shepherd be the first I tune into, and the one I surrender to.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Lovella said...

Julie, what a neat and wonderful story. . so many life experiences out there arent' there? I wonder someday what testimony these twin girls will have.
I really can't speak my mother tongue. .very much at all. .just a word here and there. .but now with the lil' farm hand learning German. . my intent to speak it has grown conisderably and sometimes I'm surprising myself at the phrases I do know. . I'm sure there is a lesson in that too. .

Betty said...

You are so right about the "language of the world". Too often do we only listen to this loud voice and not to the little voice inside of us, that tells us the right thing to do.
I do recognize two men in the first pic. They live in our town and one of them was in our bible study... Small world, right?
Great post!!

Judy said...

A wonderful story with a message for all of us! I can so identify with your thoughts about the 'mother tongue'. I spoke German as a young child...heard low german spoken by the adults...and live in a world where those languages are foreign. And yet those German expressions are always there...some songs can be sung only in German...and low german jokes are only funny in that language! How easy it is to slip back to our mother tongue.

Lavinia said...

Excellent post. You write "Is our goal not to mature to the point where our spiritual ears are the first ones that we tune our minds to?"

There is only one answer to the question posed. It is a question we must ask ourselves every day! A goal that must be renewed every day.

Wise words you have written.