Tuesday, December 28, 2010

God's Megaphone

You've seen those journals...
I once was given a sweet little journal that had verses and quotes and cute sayings easily forgotten sprinkled throughout the pages. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Rows upon rows of pink and leather and curlicues in places like Borders or Northwestern Bookstore, elaborately labeled “for women” or “for graduate” or “for people who like orange”…

The journal is long gone, but I still remember one phrase curling at the bottom of a page: “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

Slightly odd, don’t you think? My experiences with God-ordained coincidences seem to be more akin to a cheerleader’s megaphone than a back-door sort of anonymity. One such occasion played out in my initial steps to Bible translation.

Missions was a part of my life before I was even born. My parents were planning to serve in missions aviation with Wycliffe, and since my mom was pregnant with me during their orientation, I “sat” through all the lectures and "listened" to all the language tapes (ironically, they were of Tok Pisin, the trade language of Papua New Guinea)! Although God ultimately sent my parents in a different direction, the Bible, missions, and a close relationship with Christ were always critical to my life. Languages and linguistics have also been a deep love since I began to talk, and when I look back, it seems only natural for me to merge these two elements in the ministry of Bible translation.

However, it didn’t reappear until I was a junior in high school when I overheard my sister asking my dad about direction for her life.

“Well,” my dad had answered, “you could always do missions, like Bible translation.”

My heart jumped. Bible translation! I didn’t mention it to anyone, but the thought wouldn’t go away, and I found myself praying daily about it for two years. College arrived, and although I made sure my school had a linguistics major, just in case, I hadn’t said yes.

One month into my freshman year, I somewhat grudgingly went to visit the head of Campus Ministry, spurred on by the fact that his brother had been my youth leader for many years, and I knew I couldn’t return home on break without making the connection. To the relief of a timid freshman girl, the pastor wasn’t in his office, but there was a sign on his door, advertising a Meet Wycliffe event the next morning. I shrugged it off and left; after all, the deadline was long past, I didn’t have a car, and my sister was coming to visit.

Later that day (because I knew the excuse of absentee wouldn’t cut it), when I finally connected with the pastor, he eagerly mentioned linguistics and gave me the contact info for the seminar.  (He certainly wasn’t as scary as I had imagined…) On a whim, I decided to email the director. After all, with all these barriers, I wouldn’t be able to go. I should have known better.

At that time, my college Bible study leader had told me “you will find God’s heart in those passions that make you cry.”

Yes, I had thought, but I never cry. But on that Saturday, I vividly remember walking into the basement of the church where the Wycliffe seminar was held and seeing a banner, stretching across the room, naming every single one of the 2,200 languages without Scripture. I froze at the sight. And to my surprise, tears began running down my face, and wouldn’t stop. And I knew that this was where the Lord had brought and broken my heart.  The next day, I emailed my mom and told her I had changed my major to linguistics.

And I haven’t looked back since.

God-ordained “coincidences:”

Incognito sneaking of a God who doesn’t wish to be a part of our lives? Or the persistent, earth-shattering, life-changing orchestrations of our Lord about whom the “heavens declare the glory” and even the rocks shout out in praise?

Relationships require interaction.

I think I prefer the megaphone.