Any North American under 25 will have no problem understanding this piece of a message texted to me by my son last Monday.
Unfortunately, though I am North American, I am not under 25, and I did have trouble understanding it! In fact, even my office mate, who is just slightly over 25, had no clue!
This made me think of all the "new" words that have crept into written English in the past 10 years. Consider for a moment the following:
...to name a few. And the spoken language has also changed. Consider these words:
"Snap" -- Believe me, it doesn't mean that you press two pieces of metal together to hold your pants closed, and neither does it refer to the sound made by the fingers. It doesn't even mean to speak sharply, or that what you want to accomplish is easy!
And then there is "ish". Looks like there’s a letter missing, doesn't it? I mean, this could be "dish" or "fish" or even "mish". Nope. No letters missing whatsoever!
And what about "dis"? A prefix, right? You "dis"like someone. You hold someone in "dis"dain. You "dis"locate your elbow. But the younger generation uses it as a stand-alone word...A verb, even! You "dis" something...
I could go on, but I think you get the point: Language is changing, and old-timers like me aren't changing quickly enough to keep up!
Who cares, you ask? After all, "we", the "oldies", speak the "correct" English...(though residents of the UK would likely beg to differ...)
But having a clue what some of these words mean would certainly help me when communicating with my teens, and even my younger patients at work! Sometimes I wish I had a translator in my head!
Before I truly came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, reading the Bible was like listening to the teens of today. The words were there, they sounded familiar, but their meaning escaped me completely. How people found pleasure and comfort in reading God's Word completely eluded me. It was a definitely a chore, something I did because it was required, and not out of pleasure.
I've heard it asked many times why the Bible couldn't be written in such a way that we could understand it. In fact, Jesus' disciples asked the same question: "And the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables?'" (Matt 13:10)
Jesus was telling obscure stories that needed to be explained! Why couldn't He just speak plainly?
(That's what I ask my teens on a regular basis!)
Jesus' answer is interesting: "...I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." (Matt 13:13)
Why would they not see, hear or understand?
"For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them." (Matt 13:15-16 NKJV)
It wasn't that what Jesus said was so difficult to understand. It was that the hearts of the people were so hardened that they couldn't understand it! If Jesus had spoken to them "plainly", they still wouldn't have understood!
Even if the people's hearts were hardened, doesn't it seem a bit cruel that the only words that would "unharden" them were spoken in obscurity?
No, friends, it was in the ultimate design of God that His Word not be written plainly.
Why, you ask?
Because God's Word is living and active (See Hebrews 4:12). Every chapter and every verse is laced with deep meaning that speaks to each of our unique situations! It doesn't speak to me the same way it speaks to you, because our situations are not the same! Therefore, God wrote His Word in "code" so to speak, so that it could only be understood through the help of a "translator", One who would be faithful in "translating" that "code" in exactly the way we need to have it "translated" at any given moment in time!
And just who is this "Translator"?
The Spirit of the Living God: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes--He will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)
Yes, friends, who better to interpret God's Word than its Author?
Would you join me, before each and every time you open God's Word, in praying the prayer of Ephesians 1:18? Lord, that the eyes of my understand be enlightened, that I may know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of Your power towards us who believe...
Oh, and my son later translated his text message for me, and for the sake of everyone out their over 25, I will give you the translation: "...Ik ppl..." means "I know people". As simple as that. How silly I felt that I needed to have it interpreted. And when we ask God to open the eyes of our understanding, it is amazing how quickly God's meaning is spoken into our hearts!
But we're talking about God's Word here. Aren't there other situations that arise in the life of the Christian that are equally as hard to interpret as "text talk"? Join us next week for "Of Ish and Stood Up", Part 2!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire "Of 'Ish' and 'Stood-up'" mini-series, please click here.)