There’s this phrase: just like riding a bike (Meaning: “Don’t worry, you’ll pick that skill back up, no problem”). This week I was reminded that speaking a second language is not like riding a bike -- you will forget the finer points if you don’t practice! It’s been several years since either of us have seriously practiced our Spanish. Some random vocab words came back quickly (“Basement!” “Spoon!”), but our conversational skills are still feeling pretty rusty.
Anyway, all that got me thinking: “Why are there multiple languages anyway? Why couldn’t God let us all speak the same language?” And then my Sunday School-conditioned brain reminded me that once upon a time, the Bible tells us everyone DID speak the same language (see Genesis 11) and it did not end well for the humans.
Talking amongst themselves in a universal tongue, our ancient counterparts decided to build a tower to challenge the heavens. “We’ll be the greatest! We’ll be unstoppable!” they say. God comes down to take a look at this tower and decides everyone needs a slice of humble pie. “They aren’t fully relying on me,” He says, “we need to shake things up here.”
A lesson from this story seems to be that God uses humanity’s multiple languages as a way to help us rely on him. It was challenging for me to come to terms with this idea. Indeed, I was humbled by the reminder from scripture that we won’t be able to do this project on our own. We will rely on the help of translators, the good grace and patience of those we interview, and the Holy Spirit to give us the words to say in whatever language is needed!