When I was in South America I had to memorize stories in Spanish as part of our method to reaching the indigenous. The very first story I learned, ironically enough, was the Tower of Babel. I remember being quite angry at those fools for thinking they could reach heaven by making a tower. God had to literally come down to see this ridiculous attempt at greatness. As punishment for their disobedience he confused the language making many. And thus punishing me. I thought, “it is because of them I am having to suffer through learning this story in another language.”
Later, in my training for Xtreme Team, I was in the jungle learning how to be a missionary with twelve Latinos and among them there were many different indigenous groups with their own indigenous language. One of the most sublime experiences happened during the nights when we would sing and dance in a circle, rejoicing in unison as the Body of Christ. If anyone knows me at all they know I don’t sing or dance so well and will do my best to avoid any and all opportunities. But even this was too much for my prudery. It was celestial or heavenly. There was just something of awe and wonder about God being praised in many different languages. Though I didn’t understand most of their hymns God did and I am confident it made Him smile.
He took the one language which was wrongly used and He turned all the languages into beautiful symphony of praises of His everlasting kindness. He destroyed an inadequate tower built to unite the people and He became the sole, inexorable, unifier through Christ. He showed that only His Name is worthy to be praised by having to descend from heaven just to view feeble attempts at greatness. He takes all of our efforts as ugly as they are and turns them into works of art. He is our Strong Tower who works in us and through us for His Name.
I will never forget lying in my hammock as my Latino partners strummed the worst out-of-tune guitar in the whole world singing in a dialect I would never understand in a pitch that probably should never be sung and I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard.
*The story of the Tower of Babel comes from Genesis 11:1-9.