Sometimes extended Sabbath rest becomes impossible, and in those seasons we need to develop a Sabbath heart that takes advantage of brief Sabbath moments. This is one of those weeks. As I type, I’m in a guest house in Quito, Ecuador, halfway through a field visit that will take me through 7 countries in 11 days, visiting a short-term team and three missionary couples. I’ll miss my intentional Sabbath time for a couple of weeks, but it’s a good discipline to learn to seize restful moments when they come.
In those moments, I’ve been reflecting on my favorite kind of worship experience. I preached in two services last Sunday that included several hundred Nicaraguan believers (and a kickin’ band!). It gave me the opportunity to sing worship songs in English (or French, or in the case of How Great Thou Art, both) while those around me sing the same song in their own language. I absolutely love that – it feels like a little taste of heaven, and it’s one my favorite parts of missions travel.
On the heels of those powerful worship times, I’ve been reflecting (in occasional stolen Sabbath moments) on God’s ingenious plan to turn what was initially a curse into a blessing – I’m SO glad that He is good at that! Genesis 11 tells us that languages were created to confuse communication at the Tower of Babel. Language diversity was a judgment on human pride.
But as He loves to do, God turned it around. When the Holy Spirit came to the church on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, those many languages were supernaturally united in praise to God. God’s invasion of our world turned confusion into unity, as people from all over the known world heard praise in their own language. Many turned to Christ, and became part of the increasingly multi-cultural family of God.
Pentecost foreshadowed what the book of Revelation promises will become a reality. Revelation 7 describes an uncountable multitude in heaven, made up of people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, clothed in white robes and crying out praise to Christ. Can you picture it? Go ahead, try. It’s going to be awesome!
I love missions work because it allows us to have a hand in the incredible plan of God, revealed from Genesis to Revelation, to bring Himself glory in all the languages of the world. I can’t think of better way to invest my life, and I shake my head in wonder that He allows me even to touch it, let alone take part in it.
He is worthy of praise in all languages. He is receiving praise in all languages. He will save people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation so they can know Him, and give Him the glory that He deserves, in whatever language they speak.
And we get to help! That’s what I love about my job.