Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Prayer of Chantal

Another entry into d$'s Random Emails of Encouragement Series...

This morning at KidStuf, my character (Marshall) was learning how to say "Merry Christmas" in different languages... this included Milad Majid (Arabic). Feliz Navidad (Argentine). God Jul (Norwegian). Bo Nada (Galician). Sretan Bozic (Croatian)... and it made me think about God's love, and how it translates to all languages... which made me think about this, written on June 11th, 2002.  Chantal is gone, I haven’t heard nary a word from her since she left for Pretoria, South Africa, a few years back. That makes me sad, because her accent… whew.

The Prayer of Chantal

It never sunk in how much I Americanized my God until last night.

Chantal Els is an au pair (fancy word for Nanny) from Pretoria, South Africa. She's been in this country since last summer, and though I haven't spent as much time with her as I would have liked to, I've gotten to talk to her a lot in the last 12 months. For that, I'm thankful. She's 20, maybe 21, short blond hair, big smile, and of course, an accent that can make you swoon. And her love of Christ and how much it’s grown in the last year is so evident... this isn't an email to glorify Chantal, though, this is an email to glorify God in what He's doing in her. Meeting her back then and talking to her now, there is a huge difference.

Many, many months ago, Chantal and I were having a conversation about prayer, and she mentioned how she really wanted to pray in her language, which is Afrikaan. I asked her why she hadn't done it, and she said she didn't know how anyone would feel about it. I told her I thought the group would be totally receptive, plus, she wasn't speaking to us anyway, so what did it matter what we thought? God would know.

So, last night at Sybil's, during prayer, I hear Amy Vos pray... and Sarah Hasha pray... and Drew Morris pray... and out of nowhere, is this accented voice in the back. And she's saying things that I would have no idea how to even repeat, much less understand. It was Chantal, praying in her native language. Apparently, she prayed for friends, because I managed to pick out "Josh", "James", "Meredith" and "Jimmy", with dialect in between. I didn't understand a word of it. But it hit me... God did. And He loved every word.

Then I began to think about how Americanized my God is to me. My God knows English. My God lives here in town. My God knows words like "y'all", "Coke", "possum", "sweet tea" and "Peachtree Street". At least He'd better know them... I've used all of these terms in conversation, sometimes in prayer. Though it seems like common sense, really, I never thought about the fact that my God also knows French. And Filipino Sign Language. And Bengali. And Sanskrit. And Portuguese. And Russian. And Zulu. And, of course, Afrikaan.

Even more than that... He SPEAKS these languages. He's not flipping through an "English to Whatever Language" dictionary to reveal Himself to people around the world... He's not speaking extra slow so that kid in Nigeria who barely knows English will understand Him. He is powerful enough to hear and speak the words of His children, from all races, from all countries. Heck, American English isn't even the original language of the Bible, and yet sometimes in my small mind, all I know is a Savior who speaks only southern dialect. Thank God He's bigger than that.

You and I hear God saying, "I love you".
The French hear God saying, "Je t'aime".
The Saudis hear God saying, “I love you”
The Icelanders hear God saying, "Eg elskta thig."
The Navaho hear God saying, "Ayor anosh'ni"
The Welsh hear God saying, "Rwy'n dy garu di."
The Malaysian hear God saying, "Saya cintamu".
And Chantal hears God saying, "Ek's lief vir jou."

Afterwards, Chantal and I sat and talked on the Common Ground couch, and she told me she'd been wanting to pray out loud like that for so long, but she never could... but finally, the words just came. Not only did God understand what she was saying, He was longing for her to say it to Him! He was urging her to speak, to call out to Him, until finally, she couldn't hold it in anymore, and not only was God pleased as His daughter spoke to Him in love, the rest of the room was totally encouraged and blessed.

Anyway, this whole email is just to remind you of how big our God is... how awesome He is... and how much He understands that we never will. Thank you God for a friend like Chantal, and using her to remind me of your wisdom over everything, every language, every voice. The next time you think God does not understand you, know that He not only understands what you are saying, He understands what everyone is saying.

Romeine 3:23... Almal het gesondig en is ver van God af kyk na uself aanmoedig,

ps... I used an English/Afrikaan translator, so there is no need to email me back and tell me how I goofed up in spelling and writing. =)

1 comment:

  1. I not only remember this night like it was last week, but I often think of Chantal. I wonder where she is and how she's doing. This night she prayed was amazing. Then, like now, I had tears streaming down my face. Far too often we try to squish God into our own little box and forget how big He truly is! "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do." Thanks for reminding me.


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