Friday, November 08, 2002

Sense or Nonsense

I believe there is a conspiracy at our house. Against me.

Each one of our children has been introduced to foreign languages in seventh grade. A couple weeks of French, of German, and of Spanish. In eighth grade they choose one of those languages full-time. Sheila took German in high school and has been secretly lobbying each of the kids from birth to follow in her footsteps. I took Greek in college, but unfortunately, the school doesn't offer that. I took French in high school and thought that would be nice. (I can still recite the poem, "The Ant and the Grasshopper." I have NO IDEA what I'm saying but my French teacher was bound and determined we would leave her class with something.)

Amber is now in eighth grade and taking, you guessed it, German. She reports to us at the supper table of the words she is learning. Sheila asks her questions about other words and phrases in German. And I have NO IDEA what they are talking about. They could be calling me an ugly dog and I'd take it as a compliment! (Maybe it WOULD be a compliment?!) I decided to fight back. "I'll show them," I thought. "I'll talk in German, too."

So one night as I was hugging Amber and Chadd goodnight, I said, "Gutten Noggin." "Good-night is 'Gutten Nacht,’" said my wife. "Gutten Nac-HT!" said I. Sheila just shook her head.

The next night… "Gutten Noggin, Chadd." Patiently my wife corrected me. "Gutten Nacht." "Gutten Nac-HT," I repeated. This went on night after night, Sheila getting more and more irritated. She wasn't sure if I was simply a slow learner (she's not the first) or if I was doing it intentionally. After a couple of weeks, in frustration she said firmly and boisterously, "It is Gutten Nacht! If you're going to say it, SAY IT RIGHT! There is no such word as Gutten Noggin!" "There is now," said I. Hey, there was no word, "ain't" in the dictionary when I was growing up, but there is now. I figure if they can add a word, so can I.

So every night as I hug my kids goodnight, I glance over at my lovely wife with a mischievous smile. She gives me another look that communicates, "Don't do it." But I can't resist. "Gutten Noggin, my children." "It is not Gutten Noggin! Oh, never mind," say she.

I've been thinking about going into Amber's German class to tell them about my new word. But I'm afraid. You see if I go into her class, I’m certain I would feel out of place. No, not because I'm so tall. I've gotten used to being around short teenagers. Because I wouldn't have a clue what they are talking about. The teacher would be speaking in German. The students would be responding in German. They could be calling me an ugly dog, I'd respond with the only German I know, "Gutten Noggin," and they'd all laugh at me. And you know how easily I am embarrassed. It would sound like nonsense to me.

Would it really be nonsense? No. It would simply be a language I don't understand. It would make perfect sense to those who understand the language, but gibberish to me.

When it appears that life doesn't make sense, is it really nonsense? Or are things operating in a language I don't understand? It feels like gibberish, but maybe, just maybe it is a language that I’m still striving to learn – the language of heaven.

More importantly, when it appears that God is not making sense, is it really nonsense? Or is he operating in a language we don't understand? Is it possible when it appears that our prayers aren't answered, that life is unfair, that we don't get what we deserve, that God is far away… that it is because God has a language that we can't understand? Could it be that in those times we need to trust God and do as He instructs because we will never fully understand the language and ways of heaven until we get there? Oh, we can learn some of the words and phrases. Enough to get us by. But the depths will not be understood until we arrive on the other side.

It may seem like nonsense to us, but in heaven it makes more perfect sense than we could ever dream. And if God tried to tell us, to explain things to us, we'd blow a gasket anyway.

Are you facing something that doesn’t make sense? Figure it out if you can, but if you can't, trust God that there is no nonsense when He is in charge. It’s just too big for us right now. But someday…

Gutten Noggin, my friends.

""For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

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