Thursday, September 11, 2014

Delicious Words & Tears

Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. 
Jeremiah 15:16

He said to me, "Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I ate it, and it was a sweet as honey in my mouth."
Ezekiel 3:3

Eating God's Word?  I came across both of these verses in the last year during my read-through-the- Bible endeavor (which has taken me much more than a year!), and they struck me as a powerful image regarding the delicious nourishment of the Bible.  I mentioned the verses to the women of my church on our winter retreat, the theme of which was The Word.  Consume and be well fed by the delicious Word of God.  Nothing is as sweet.  Nothing else can satisfy.  We have food others know not of.

Then, as the Lord seems to always work in themes in my life, I picked up this book recently and unknowingly. I thought a good missionary story would be the perfect way to start the homeschool morning with Kayla this year.

I can't remember why I even had this book on the shelf, but I think I must have purchased it years ago when I thought it would fit with a world history and geography class we were doing with other local homeschoolers.  We never ended up using it, but I re-discovered it this summer while clearing closets and shelves and making trips to Good Will.

My kids will tell you that I have been dissolved to tears numerous times during "read-aloud" time, (Bronze Bow, anyone? Pilgrim's Progress? Sigh...) but I really didn't see it coming this time.

In Search of the Source is about Wycliffe (Bible translators) missionaries in Papua New Guinea. This husband and wife team, along with their small children lived in the jungle among the Folopa people, a tribe with an unwritten language and a previous cannibalistic revenge culture.  The book recounts some of the breakthroughs they had in acquiring the proper translations for certain Bible words, phrases, and stories.  The language acquisition stories and the details of the intimate translation in cooperation with a few of the Folopa men are really fascinating, and the stories of eating jumbo beetles (they "pop" when rolled above the fire flames) and grub worms (stuffed in bamboo and roasted to make a "meat stick") and going on bat hunts through caves in waist deep water (a river where the dead were once buried) add even more excitement.

They began translation work with Genesis 1 and had difficulty right away with the word "created."  Then, in Genesis 2, the Folopa men were greatly humbled when they discovered that the women they thought must be a completely different species from them, made only for work and babies, were actually made from their very own flesh.  But is was the translation of Genesis 37-45 that really made a significant impact, as the Hebrew culture of the "favorite son" and the resulting sibling rivalry mirrors their own. They were completely mesmerized by the story.

The missionary wife typed furiously as the translation of the Joseph story was being spoken, and as the words individually appeared on the typewritten page, the men came in closer and closer, watching and reading, refusing to take a break for tea and toast.  When the page was finished, one of the Folopa men took it, put his hand to his throat (a gesture of great seriousness) and said this:

"We are dying of the deliciousness of these words."

I couldn't even finish reading that line, because the tears started rolling.  The power and sweetness of God's Word.  The emotion of reading about another culture's first response to that beautiful Word.  It was too much to take in.

And the story of Joseph began to not only resonate with their own cultural experience, but also tie in with another story they knew about another Son. The same man who held the typewritten page began to speak again...

" 'The brother whom they had most greatly offended,' he said, 'was in the end the one who had the most power to destroy them.  Yet he passed it over. Instead he became the one who rescued them.' "

In their revenge culture, this was incredulous, scandalous even, and therefore very powerful. Many had already responded in faith to the message, a message of grace and forgiveness rather than a deserved revenge killing.

So, big tears over written words during read-aloud time again. Nothing new for my homeschool pupils.  I guess the tears are really over the Word who became flesh for me.

He is beautiful. His Word is sweet.

(Jack and Kelly ~ maybe this could be your next read-aloud?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We ordered it today.:) Thanks! K&J