I’m sure I’ve written this in a blog post before, but I love the Old Testament part of the Bible. I’m watching out for lightning as I write this (wink!), but I think it might be my favorite. I mean, I don’t get way into or much out of all those lists in Numbers and all that crazy law in Leviticus, but you guys!, the STORIES! Who doesn’t love a really good story? And you can’t make up ones like these…
Beyond just the entertainment value, however, there are some seriously deep and cut-to-the-bone lessons in there, and it seems like just about every time I read one of them, God is holding up a mirror and showing me how I’m like a certain character in the that story. And,… yikes, you know?
So I was reading the story of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11). The one about the people are building this huge, tall tower to reach up to God in heaven, thinking they can be as high and mighty as God is. God frustrates their plans and makes them all speak different languages, so they can’t understand each other and the work can’t continue. They all scatter all over the earth (like He had told them to begin with), and then, The End. God’s purpose is accomplished – people are scattered, new languages are born, the tower is left unfinished, people relearn their place in Creation.
At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. (Gen. 11.1)
The people of the earth after the Flood put their heads together and decided to build a city and a tower so they could become famous and all stay together. I’ve always been taught from this story that we need reminded we are not as great as God, we shouldn’t try to become Him, and that people who can’t understand each other really have a hard time working together. Growing up on the mission field, and then becoming a translator, I get that lesson. But I’m a firm believer that every story or lesson in the Bible is relevant for me today, where I am right this second. For you, too – and maybe you’re not a former missionary, who is now a translator.
I started thinking about the miscommunication I still deal with every day. Sometimes my kids don’t listen. Or they don’t seem to understand what I’m saying. I got my feelings hurt because of something a friend posted on Facebook. I ended up in a fight with my husband because I shot off at the mouth and said something better left unsaid. It’s not as if we aren’t all speaking the same actual language to one another. We ARE speaking the same language, and still misunderstand each other, still have a hard time working and living together.
And I realized, we’re all still building our own kingdoms too. Still making our own plans, going about our own business, pretending like we aren’t disobeying what God clearly told us to do. Our problems in communication ultimately come from us trying to accomplish our own plans, meet our own needs, satisfy our own wants, and make our own lives convenient. Now there’s not a whole lot I can do about you and your kingdom-building, nor you about me and mine.
Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.
But God can. So next time you’re talking to your friend kindly about something and somehow you end up on the outs with her, ask yourself, ‘Whose kingdom was I building in that conversation?’ Ask the same question the next time a seemingly innocuous request to your spouse turns into a full-blown argument. You might have to dig a little bit. I know I did. But when I really looked at what was at the root of my words – me, me, me, me – it was easier to see that I was laying a foundation for my own city and tower, not God’s.
My telling my kids to pick up their toys and ultimately ending up frustrated was, if I’m honest, really about ME just obsessing about a clean house.
That sarcastic comment on Facebook was really about wanting to be seen as funny.
If you find ourselves in verbal scrapes with others often, instead of saying, ‘oh, that’s just how people are, there’ll always be arguments and conflict with other people,’ we should see if we’re in obedience to God, and if we’re about His kingdom or ours.
Isaiah 46:10 says this, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.
But, wait. Before we get the idea that He’s just up there in Heaven lording it over us, moving us around like pawns to win his game, let’s read on a little… What’s His purpose? What does He have planned? Nothing less than saving us. Saving us from building a huge tower for nothing. Bring us to Heaven with Him. Exactly what we wanted.
I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.
I’m Amber Pierre, mother of 3 (ages 3, 2 and 1) and expecting baby #4. I love to sew, but I’m not that great at it, and I love to cook, and no one has had food poisoning yet, which is totally how I determine that I’m a fantastic cook. I am home with my kids, and work part-time as a translator from home. Sometimes the lines of my “work” get blurry, and I wonder if one more load of laundry is going to make any kind of eternal impact. After doing some Bible reading, I’ve realized that it’s my attitude about doing the laundry (or whatever) that matters…