Listening for your mother tongue (aka tuning out sin’s voice)

Molly, my pug, at the Louvre

Thoughts from a long-term tourist – II

Being a long-term tourist has had an interesting effect. I’ve become accustomed to not understanding the conversations I overhear as I’m walking down the street or sitting in a café. The sounds of these conversations have become background noise for me. When I attend to them I realize they are speaking a language I don’t understand, but for the most part, they provide the white noise of my walking around existence. Occasionally, I hear English spoken and it gets my attention. But generally, even though the people basically look the same as me and dress the same as me (well, to be perfectly honest, they are a quite a bit more fashion forward than me. The women dress like they do in magazines or in Macy’s display windows and they carry it off!) The different language we speak reminds me that I am not at home. I am in fact a tourist, albeit a long-term one.

This got me thinking.

You see, Jack and I have found a church we like. It feels very similar to our church in San Francisco – it is young, we sing many of the same songs and the service style is relaxed. We walked in and felt at home. There is something about the familiar that causes a welcome feeling inside you.

The church is called Trinity International Church and it is definitely international. We’ve met people from so many different countries and cultures. The only thing we have in common is that we love God and we speak English. We look different, we sound different, and we hail from different homelands. But we all desire to worship God in a common language.

It is the common language of worshipping God that makes me feel at home with these people. As Eugene Petersen says in the message, “Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word.”

The good news is that as a citizen of heaven, walking around on earth, the dead language of sin can fade into the background and become the white noise of our walking around existence. We can become accustomed to not understanding it. Instead whenever we hear our mother tongue, which is the love and worship of God, our attention will be piqued, we can join the conversation and be at home even while we remain long-term tourists.

With you in the journey,


Written while living in Paris, 2005

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