Monday, March 7, 2011

It's In the Translation

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."
Isaiah 40:8

Our generation should be some of the best communicators, constantly plugged in and forever clicking away on blackberries and mini laptops. I must admit though, with all of this technology and immediate gratification, some things may be getting lost in the translation. Just maybe, I think, it may have been our parents' generation that had better information sharing methods. My parents have always had a pretty consistent manner of communicating with one another. There were many years my father travelled extensively for work and they had to have a system. However, it is important to note, when my father was very young and in the service, he worked on airplanes. Very NOISY airplanes. So, he is virtually deaf in one ear. Now, I am no expert, but I would venture a guess that the other ear is not so great either :) This little tidbit has wreaked havoc on my dear dad for years.

Many things have been lost in the translation with my dad, orders in restaurants, questions from his students, the grandchildren speaking to him. But, make no mistake, my father is a good willed and fine man. He has more integrity in his little toe than most men acquire in a lifetime. As far as his faith and his ability to share his love with us, that is certainly not an issue. But, the following encounter has rendered our family hysterical numerous times over the years.

I was in college at the time. I still lived at home. My mother worked at a local department store and my father picked her up after her shift on the weekends. That Saturday night, my dad asked if I wanted to ride over with him. It was very late and my mother got into the car.
She innocently asked him a simple question,
"Did you kill the wasps?"
(A wasp's nest was overtaking a tree in our side yard) to which he replied,
"Yes, yes, I did a load of white."
My mother chuckled.
She clarified for him, "No, no not the wash, the bugs, did you get the bugs?" Still, the ears were not with him,
"Rugs, why would I wash the rugs?"
We laughed until we cried. I know it is one of those moments you had to have been there to understand, however almost twenty years and a hearing aid later, we still have those moments.

Consequently, my dad had sprayed the wasp's nest, in addition to the other tasks he performed that day. But, I always find it noteworthy it takes so little to misunderstand the intentions of those around us. Dr. Eggerichs (of Love & Respect fame) pointed out in a marriage encounter my husband and I attended, that people are generally good-willed, most of those around us are good willed people. My father was certainly good-willed that day, however, it was his ears that failed him.

So, how often is our translation of a conversation vastly different than how the other person meant it? It amazes me how one single glance can speak volumes, while a fifteen minute dissertation to my children on loving one another can result in two defiant mini-me's casting blame from themselves and to each other, just wanting to "win". After all, they are incredibly good willed people, right? Right.

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Psalms 119:89

So, though our earthly selves may daily struggle with interpretations of our interactions with others, there is something in our Christian walk that is unchanging. Regardless of the version of Bible we choose to use for our quiet time, the message is the same. It is stable, viable and steady.

As I deeper study the Bible, I am fascinated by the translations of the written word of God. There may be many; however, it becomes abundantly clear that there is very little wiggle room in translating the hard and fast facts presented in Word of God. We attend Bible studies and many times we take away different things, perhaps it meets us where we are in that moment. We go to church and as the Pastor breaks down the Word, verse for verse, we nod and praise the God that so clearly and carefully spelled out every single thing we need to know in one perfect handbook. We humble ourselves in prayer, meditating on the truth that comes only in verses encapsulated in our Holy Bibles.

Where is your Bible? Good willed as each of us may be, our walk will falter if we are not daily seeking, noses in our Bibles, putting to action the commands and truth as only articulated in the great Word of God. Some translations may not be as reliable as others, but we are called to study, seek and press onward in His Word.

Praises, moments of great joy, hardened hearts, anger, bitterness, laws, promises...they are all there, the answers within. If you have been away from your Bible, the Lord will rejoice at your return to His Word.

"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6

It is that simple, no translation needed.



Warren Baldwin said...

Good thoughts! Translations do vary. I find it helpful to read from 2 or 3 different ones to get the various perceptions.

But, whatever version we use, you are right, we need to be "daily seeking."

Good post.

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Oh dear friend.....I fumble through my words more than I would like! Keeps me broken, humble, teaching and learning. I am such a student. A student of His Word. Desperately requiring His precepts.

His Word truly is my life.

"They are not just idle words for you—they are your life."
Deuteronomy 32:47

As always, great words in your beautiful writing.


D.J. Hughes said...

You are so right! Oftentimes, what we mean to say and what is actually heard are two different things. So much gets lost in translation!

I'm so thankful that His Word is living, yet unchanging. Amen.

A multi-dimensional life said...

Oh, I love this! You are so right..."I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6
"It is that simple, no translation needed."...So true, Heather!
Thanks for this great post.
Also...I laughed along with you at the story of your mom and dad's conversation. It reminded me of several "episodes" in my own family :). Too cute! I adore hearing these remembrances! Blesings!

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

Great post! How wonderful to know that His word is always there waiting for us to just open it and read...