In February I made a post about how gratitude is pride’s Achilles heel. I sure hope I didn’t come to France with an arrogant attitude, but I sure did take a hearty slice of « Humble Pie » this month.
This month, my story is more than common among global ministry workers. You pack all you own, move to your target country, and think the four years you spent studying your country’s language in high school (or perhaps one year in university) will make a huge difference.
Don’t get me wrong, it does. I would be TOTALLY lost if I hadn’t studied français in the United States. However, if you think your study time alienated from actual locals will completely streamline the learning process you are gravely mistaken.
It doesn't take long to realize that the couple hundred words you know—or maybe one thousand—only scratch the surface of vocabulary. People on the streets talk way too fast, and if you’re trying to listen to a fluid language like French all of their words seem to blend together.
Did that recording just say « Dans » (in) or « d’un » (of one)? When a fellow ministry worker told me there are about five more vowel sounds in French than what we use in English I wasn’t surprised. For a little while, I was completely overwhelmed.
Luckily that same ministry said something equally encouraging. « Pray »
...did he mean to say « study until you can’t possibly study anymore? » ... I don’t think so. My French might be « un peu terrible » but last time I checked I’m pretty sure I still understood English.
It’s embarrassing how quick we are to ´compartmentalize God.
« Hey Jesus, I’ll talk to you when I’m in church or when I’m feeling spiritual. With something straightforward and practical that’s my responsibility, right? I mean God doesn't help those who don’t help themselves, isn’t that what the American dream teaches us? »
Real talk: I hope most believers know God wants to be part of every area of our lives, even the parts we think are mundane like studying. If you didn’t know that, consider this your PSA.
Revelation 21:3 - “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
More specifically, he uses humility and gratitude to draw us closer to him. When we’re humbled, we realize how « petit » we are in the grand scheme of life (or at least I do). It’s overwhelming, but what’s more humbling? Realizing that God is « grand » and omnipresent.
Job 26:14 - "By his power, he stilled the sea…Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?"
When remember God’s presence, language learning doesn’t seem as scary. Whether it’s through the love of people I encounter who are willing to put up with my Tarzan-esque French, or my time alone. God is with me. He is with you. He’s with us. For that I’m grateful.
Thank you, Lord for using my humbling experiences and thankfulness to bring just a little closer to you this month.