Friday, January 11, 2008

Speaking in Code

When I was a young child my parents used to speak in code language when they wanted to talk in front of we children without us knowing what they were talking about. The code language they used was pig Latin. (If for some reason you don't know, in pig Latin you take the first sound or blend of a word, move it to the end of the word, and add "ay". e.g. "It's cold today" would be, "It'say oldcay odaytay.") Anyway back to the story, that worked fine for a while, but eventually my brothers and I caught on to pig Latin. It is easier to understand than it is to speak, but with a little practice you can speak it as fluently as you can speak English. In fact, on a cross-country family vacation, my mother and I talked for hours using only pig Latin. It was my turn to drive and I drew the 1 AM to 5AM driving shift (we always drove straight through). I was a little tired while driving and to keep me awake my mother and I began to read road signs and cities in pig Latin. There is still something about the city of "Ewbergnay" that makes me smile.

This past year has made me realize that we all speak in code to one extent or another. With all of the doctor's visits we have been to for Kim, there has been one thing that has been consistent. Code language. Here is how all of our doctor's appointments have gone this year. The visit would start in common English. The doctor is speaking and I am understanding everything he or she is saying. Doctor asks a few questions, looks at Kim's chart and realizes and confirms that Kim is a practicing Registered Nurse. As soon as she would confirm this, I am out of the conversation. The language in the room would immediately turn to medical code language. Abbreviations and terms, real Latin and words that would fill a Webster, all with endings in Greek. Code words and terminology that those in the medical field understand, but language that for most of us feel completely lost in. I would sit patiently and try and pick up what I could. Every visit would end with the doctor looking at me and asking, "Do you have any questions?" No, how could I? I haven't understood a word that has been spoken since the initial handshake. When Kim and I would get back into the car after appointments, she would have to explain to me everything that was said. Eventually, after many doctor visits, I began to understand some of the conversation and on a few occasions was bold enough to ask questions.

When I was relating this experience to my pastor, he told me that the same thing happens at pastor's breakfasts and conferences. He said that the language spoken among pastors is very different from how they speak when laymen are part of the conversation. He said there is a very discernible shift in the conversation as theology terms come out and New Testament Greek begins to be spoken.

As I thought about both of these examples, I realized I am not exempt from speaking in code language. I have friends who are woodworkers and when we talk, words like "biscuit", "rabbet", "scribe", "plinth", "stile", and "ogee" are common words we all understand. Those who work with computers are no different. Believe it or not, I am convinced that the majority of people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when they throw around terms such as "RAM", "gigabytes", and "peripherals". Most people don't know and only those who really understand computers do, because that is their code language.

In considering all of this, I reflect upon Romans 8:26-28. "26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
There is, for lack of a better term, a code language with God. In our prayers we petition God and pour out our souls to Him, but our hearts are wicked and we don't know what is best for ourselves. None of us knows the mind of God, and none of us can stand as His counselor. So when verse 26 speaks of "our weakness", it speaks not just of our physical weakness, but also our spiritual failures as imperfect sinful beings. Matthew Henry puts it this way, "As to the manner, we know not how to pray as we ought. It is not enough that we do that which is good, but we must do it well, seek in a due order; and here we are often at a loss--graces are weak, affections cold, thoughts wandering, and it is not always easy to find the heart to pray. The apostle speaks of this in the first person: 'We do not know'. He puts himself among the rest. Folly, and weakness, and distraction in prayer, are what all the saints are complaining of. If so great a saint as Paul knew not what to pray for, what little reason have we to go forth about that duty in our own strength!"
But we are not left there in our weakness, alone and struggling in our prayers. For the Father sends the Spirit to intercede, to dictate and make requests for us that we cannot possibly began to imagine of our own power. There, in that intercession, is the code language of God. God the Spirit, pouring out the desires of the Father, to the Father on our behalf, and we never hear a word of it. I take great comfort in that. That is language I would not want to hear, for those petitions I cannot speak may very well be bringing into my life great sorrow. Sorrow that if I knew about would cause me to worry and fret. But no, I can rest in the promise of verse 28, that those prayers offered up by the Spirit to the Father, no matter what they are, will bring about ultimate good in my life. And I can close my eyes and sleep at night knowing that He who holds me today, holds my tomorrows.


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MadMup said...

About halfway through the second paragraph I was thinking, "Yeah, we computer guys do that, too." Then I got to the part where you said that, too :)

Your attitude and spirit about the difficulties you guys are going through is encouraging and challenging.