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Lost in Translation?

Filed under: — jen d @ 3:40 pm

A marvelous thing happened in Sunday evening Bible study this weekend. We had three new visitors. Four, if you count the gigantic beach-ball that was Yan’s belly. Peng and Wendy invited Yan, who is expecting her first child–a little boy. Yan brought her parents-in-law. Her mother-in-law, a beautiful, tiny Chinese woman, speaks good but somewhat broken English. Her husband speaks only Chinese. It was the first time that any of them had ever heard the Bible.

Peng and Wendy translated Pastor’s lesson into Mandarin for them. The five of them sat along one wall of the room, huddled together over this strange, new Book. It was easy to get lost in the melody of Wendy’s voice as it broke free of the chains of a second language and rode hushed and wild along the waves of its original tongue.

Words can’t do much justice to the enormous priviledge it is to introduce for the very first time the name of the LORD to a group of people — people who’ve been on the earth as long or longer than the rest of us who were present on Sunday evening. It’s a gift from the Lord, comprising what should be an unecessary reminder as to why we’re here. Specifically, its a timely reminder to me personally as to why I’m in Boston instead of in Greenville getting ready to go to Germany for six weeks; of why I’m paying $850 a month for a tiny apartment I don’t often see; of at least one good reason why I’m still in the pest control business, and doing more office work in every sphere than I ever thought I’d allow myself to do; of why the daily commute and consequent gas bill really is worth it; why status as a mere world-famous authoress isn’t; why sometimes its okay to just hang around; of the kind of God we really serve.

My friends and fellow church females Amy and Melita had the opportunity to expound upon the Scriptures with Yan after the study. Her English was good enough not to warrant translation, and she had a lot of questions. And so we started at the beginning to try and reveal to her some glimpse of the GOD who has been revealing Himself since the beginning of man. We ended with the ultimate revelation, the Man Christ Jesus.

In light of recent blogosphere discussions, I wonder if that was okay. I mean, we were, afterall, teaching Yan theology. Was it wrong of us to do so? Some would seem to say yes. Most, however, would scoff at the suggestion. I confess, I feel no shame at the discussion, save in that I’m sure my humanness, not my femaleness, limited my exposition of such a glorious Person.

There’s no question that I’m unworthy of such a priviledge. Each passing day I’m increasingly aware of just how unworthy I am of the very air I breathe, never mind my cushy diggs, my generous boss, my amazing church family, or my Adoption into HIS Body. I’ll spare the gory details; you’ll have to trust me on this one. I am hopelessly lost and unlcean without His goodness, grace, and righteousness.

How could anyone wish to reject that plan for one in which a man must cleanse himself? And yet the unbelieving do it; more incredibly, we believers do in our own way by failing to accept the ramifications of the Gift, by failing to claim the power to live practically as He sees us spiritually–as holy, spotless in the robes of His Son’s righteousness. Day to day I choose instead to wallow in the muck of all that is most worldly, in self-righteousness and flesh-gratification and prideful anger. When He could chastise me with whips and chains, however, He reaches down and places three Chinese people in a Bible study. And amidst the swellings of a tongue I can’t understand with my ears, I hear it with my heart: a tiny voice that whispers, “It is I.”

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