“Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Genesis 11:7-9 (ESV)
I had a commute date with my husband this morning. Usually when the children are on vacation from school, he and I steal away for coffee and some alone time before I deliver him to the train to start his day. On the way home, I stopped at the grocery for breakfast staples. In the checkout line, the women next to me chatted amiably with a store employee, grateful for her assistance. When she finally completed her order, she proclaimed “Praise God” among other things, and went her way. I don’t know what she referenced; I wasn’t paying attention to anything she said previous to or as a follow up to that statement, but when I heard my native tongue, I smiled. I knew I was home.
I have friends and family from all across the Globe. We speak several native or acquired languages and dialects, as appropriate. Among other things, travel affords the opportunity to be a bit disoriented by sights and sounds that are not yours. Imagine how refreshing it is then, to find a little bit of home when you are away. I was born in the US and English (in several derivations) is my first language. Why is it, then, that I smiled so broadly and deeply when I heard a stranger give thanks?
After the Great Flood, God commanded that we should "increase in number and fill the earth" (Genesis 9:1) It is believed that this one family and their descendants spoke a common language. Just as you might expect, we (the human family) didn't do right. In Genesis 11:1-6 (ESV) the story is told as follows:
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
We unified, but under the wrong standard, and it cost us dearly.
We mean to do right, I know we do. Fear, greed, pride, weakness seems to get in our way. Fortunately, we have a Father who loves us, knows that we will stumble and hears us when we call. He also planted within us a knowledge of our native language, and that is why I smiled. I knew I was home.
So maybe I wasn’t home; I was in the grocery store. But I recognized home. I knew I was in the presence of family, and I know my Father was pleased. I may be a stranger in a strange land, but by God’s Grace, He leads me to find my people. I have my confirmation. I am not alone, and this confirmation is all the evidence I need to remember that God is good.