It may not come to you as a surprise, but just because words are spoken, it doesn’t always mean that words are fully understood. As an example, my son Sam who was six years old ask me on the way home from church, “Dad why to birds lift their ends at Calvary”. We all had a good laugh as I explained to him that the song actually says, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary”, “Not bird ends”. Another time one of our boys said that he always thought I was an actual Doctor for the longest time because when ever they got a cut or got hurt they went to “Doctor MAP” which was actually an abbreviation for Mark Anthony Phenicie.
I recall once hearing an American tourist while I was over seas, trying to converse with a local villager. The tourist thought that if he spoke louder, the other person would understand. Both individuals never did understand each other so they walked away from each other confused and frustrated.
Finally the American made a fool hearted remark to me by saying. “These people are so stupid, they don’t understand English”! What he didn’t realize was, many times foreigners can speak several languages depending on what neighboring country touches theirs and yet through acts of compassion and love, language barriers are often broken down and people begin to understand each other no matter what language they speak.
One day I was thinking about this, and I couldn’t help but think back on how as a young child I was told and even taught to memorize the verse of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not parish but have everlasting life”.
Even though this wonderful message of hope had been spoken, memorized and emphasized by a variety of pastors, teachers, evangelists as well as my parents, this was still confusing to me because I didn’t really didn’t understand what the words “believe” or “faith” meant and besides my mind as a small kid did not function in this dimension. However, the languages that I did understand were “actions of compassion and love”.
I recall as a young lad, I was visiting at my grandmother’s farm and her brother, who was my great uncle Fred Orr (a tall eloquent man with pure white hair), was out side working behind the barn. I noticed that he was cutting down some of the weeds and thistles around the barn and along the wire fence line with a two handle scythe. I recall my Grandmother had a large metal kittle next to the fence where the cows would get a drink at the pump. That area too was over grown with weeds.
While I watched him work I looked up at him and asked him several questions such as, “what are you doing, and where did the weeds come from, and why did he have to burn them?
He explained how the farmer first plants the grain but then the strong winds come along and blow seeds from miles and miles around such as the thistle weeds into the same area. Then together they grow up and before they are in full bloom the farmer has to go out into the fields and cut down the weeds before they bloom and he has to gather them up and burn them so that the seeds don’t spread into the next year’s crops.
He went on to tell me how the farm animals such as cows, sheep and little lambs love to graze and eat the grass but when they do, they get the thorns and thistles stuck in their tongues and bellies and it causes them health problems. Then he explained to me about how he too was gathering up all the thistles that he had just cut down and had to throw them into the fire to destroy them. He also said that If he buried them or let them lay on the pile they would soon begin to grow again.
He explained to me about the world and how we as Christians grow up in the same world as the “sinners” who are like the weeds and thistles and how some day when Jesus returns all of the sinners will eventually be gathered up and cast into the lake of fire. However those individuals who have trusted in Jesus through faith (just like the good crops) will be harvested and will be taken into Heaven to be with God for ever and ever.
I could not fully comprehend it all at that time but I could tell that he cared about me and that there was something special about my great uncle that I admired. As time went on I learned to understand Faith as described in Hebrews 11:1 which says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
Unbeknown to my great Uncle Fred, through his “compassion and love for the lost”, he had just planted a seed of Faith and the good news of Jesus Christ; even though I took his information as a story that to me only adults could fully understand.