Linguistics. According to dictionary.com, linguistics is defined as “
I remember hearing about the Linguistics course offered here at the Missionary Training Center (MTC), for the first time, a few years ago. It was at New Tribes Bible Institute (NTBI) in Jackson, Michigan during my first or second semester. A group of students and staff from MTC came up to tell us a bit more about what the next phase of training would like, should we chose to go on. A couple of the students were in the Linguistics course, an optional “add-on” of sorts, after the regular church planting course. They told us about all the different sounds the human mouth can make, and gave us a chance to try. I remember how weird it was to attempt these different sounds. I also remember being amazed at the thought of these sounds could help for words with actual meaning something in another language. We had a Q & A session a bit later. More was brought up about the Ling course. I thought that I would probably like to take it once I got to the MTC. But that was a long ways away, and I probably wouldn’t score high enough on the aptitude test anyway.
Fast forward about 5 or 6 years, and I am in the midst of my classes at MTC. The big aptitude test is coming up. I am not sure even if I want to take the Ling course anymore or not. Mostly, because getting to the MTC took longer than I had planned and I was impatient. So, I pulled a Gideon and put a fleece out. “Lord, please. Please, please. Let me do really well or really poorly on this test. That way, I’ll know if I should take it or not.” Well, I did average. Not amazing. Not terrible. Average.
I knew the course was hard, and the fact that my natural ability wasn’t super-hero-like-amazing, just meant it would be more difficult for me. This made me not want to take it. I know, I know – fickle human that I am.
But, as I continued classes, God began to change my heart. I heard stories of missionaries doing things that they never pictured themselves doing. I was in classes about how to teach Literacy to the people we go to. I saw videos of Bible dedications, men and women receiving God’s Word, written in their heart language. If taking a few more months of classes could better prepare me for future ministry, and I am able to take it, why wouldn’t I?
So, as I write this, I am about one month in. It’s been pretty difficult. But, it’s a good difficult. I remember previous Ling students telling me that I will learn a lot in Ling, and that most of that learning won’t be about Linguistics. And, oh, how true that is! Don’t misunderstand me, I am learning plenty about Linguistics! But, God is concerned with something else- my heart.
Insecurity has crept up in my heart, these past few weeks. It’s not something I am used to. Of course, I have had days and moments of insecurity and I always feel awkward in big crowds. But overall, typically, I am pretty comfortable. But growth does not happen, cannot happen, in the realm of the comfortable.
So, I find that I am in this course, where I am so slow to process and understand things. I have never felt so inadequate. Every single day, the way I that I think is being stretched. I am such a “black and white” thinker. It either is, or it isn’t. Ling doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that. To sum it all up, I have come face to face with my weakness.
“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.; So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– II Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)
I could dwell and wallow there in my discomfort. But, then I’d just be stagnant. I don’t want to settle for stagnant. I want life. And, to have life, you must grow. Growth happens when we are at the end of ourselves In a place where we cannot do it on our own. At the point where we fall on our knees before the Lord. That is where growth happens. I want to be like Paul, and learn that my weakness is an opportunity for God’s strength to shine. I’d be a fool to think that Linguistics will be the only place I will ever be weak. The truth is, whether I see it or not, I am weak. Every single day of my life, I need Christ to be my strength.
And, so, this will be my prayer daily, if not hourly, that Christ be exalted in my weakness. And, that I will press on, because at the end of the day, the entire reason that I am taking Ling, is for Christ to be exalted. It’s to see the nations come to know life, and to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”