When I was a freshman in high school I took my first French class. I had several people, particularly my parents, try to convince me that taking Spanish was a much better option. I grew up in Arizona, so learning Spanish made much more sense and I would have had a much easier time putting my newly acquired language skills into practice. I didn’t listen. I wanted to learn to speak the ‘language of love’. I convinced myself that I would travel, that I would eventually spend enough time in France to practice the language of love, and that I was going to speak fluent French by the time I was 18. I ultimately took 6 years of French between high school and college…and I did reach the point where most would call me fluent around my sophomore year in college. I had not quite arrived at the stage of actually thinking in French, but I could read it, speak it, and understand it with ease. It had become second nature to me.
The other day my 5 year old asked me to tell her the names of the colors in French. I remembered rouge, noir, and bleu. Three colors. Nothing more than three colors. Six years…for what? I’ve never been to France. I’ve never even been out of the country, other than a few trips to Nogales to buy fake Louis Vuitton purses when I was a teenager. Spanish would have come in handy then. I can recall vividly only one French sentence that is burned in my brain…’Quelle heure est-il?’ Those who know me well will find that hilarious and ironic.
I had been fluent…what happened?
I had been fluent…what happened? There was a time when the words rolled off my tongue with such ease, with grace even. There was a time when I could listen to someone speak French and put forth very little effort to take in their words and understand them in my heart and mind. I could sit with a livre francais and my eyes would not hesitate over the words and the message…it was all so familiar to me. I had been fluent!
As I sat there the other night trying to recall the French words requested by a five year old, I became so frustrated with myself. How could I not remember the names of simple colors…the basics? How could I forget so easily…was I that disconnected? Could my shocking ignorance really be blamed on a simple failure to practice all that I had learned? Had I so fully fallen back on my first language that I had completely forgotten how to speak the ‘language of love’?
Indeed…that is exactly what had happened. I had forgotten the basics. I was disconnected. I had failed to practice. I had fallen back on my first language…the one that came the easiest…the one that required no effort at all.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
I remember a similar feeling of frustration about 4 years ago as I sat alone in my living room. I was reminded of a girl who had spent years walking very closely with God. She was what most people would consider a strong Christian…you could even say she was ‘fluent’ in Christianity. She spoke the language of the gospel with ease…often with grace even. She would listen to someone speaking Biblical truth, the good news of the gospel, and even the refining words of conviction…and she could know and apply the truth of those words deep in her heart and mind. She could sit for hours reading her Bible and her eyes would not hesitate over the words or the message…it was all so very familiar and personal to her. She was Gospel fluent.
That quiet morning, alone in my living room, I found myself searching for answers to questions I never thought I’d be asking myself.
Why was it so hard to remember how to pray? How had I become so distant…from God…and from other believers? Why did facing the God who loved me and saved me feel so humiliating and terrifying? Why couldn’t I remember how to read my Bible?! Why did it read like a foreign language? I had been fluent!
But the truth weighed on me like an agonizing burden. I knew exactly how it had all happened. I had forgotten the basics. I had distanced myself from God and disconnected from other believers. I had stopped disciplining myself to practice the truth of the Gospel. I had fallen far and hard back on my first nature…my sin nature…the one that came the easiest, the one that required no effort at all.
So there I sat…face to face with a Holy God…with nothing but my filthy sin standing between us.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
That was the day that I began to remember who I was. It was the day that God reminded me whose I was. It was that day that He reminded me that the wall of sin that I had put between us was only an obstacle for me…not for Him. I was no longer anything resembling fluent…I had forgotten almost everything. But in His goodness and faithfulness He promised to help me remember. And He has.
It’s so easy to forget, isn’t it? It’s so easy to fall back on the ease of our first nature…our first language. It requires practice to remain fluent. Without discipline we will always gravitate toward that which comes easiest.
Have you ever found yourself wandering?
Have you ever found yourself wandering? Lost? Have you fallen so far and hard back on your sin nature that you hardly recognize yourself, like I had? Do you feel so distant and disconnected that standing before God feels humiliating and terrifying? Do you feel defeated by the obstacle of sin you’ve put between you and God?
Please be encouraged. God is fluent in forgiveness and grace…and unlike us, He does not waver or wander and he does not forget who we are…His beloved prodigal daughters.
Your sin is no obstacle for Jesus…he has already conquered that wall.
BY HIS GRACE & FOR HIS GLORY,