"Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers, but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. . . . Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." (NIV) 1 Corinthians 14:22, 39-40
It was second semester freshman year in college. As with most new college students, I was finding the adjustment to be a bit difficult. Yes, there were the normal anxious moments of meeting new friends and ensuring I would do well with my studies. Compound that with two very important things that weighed heavily on my mind: my dad was very sick - in and out of hospitals, and I wanted to ensure my faith, that was a big part of my high school years, would not waiver. My dad being in and out of hospitals was something that we would learn would be part of his life for the next 20+ years. I thought I wouldn't have a problem in the "faith" arena because I was going to a Lutheran college. That should be a "slam dunk" right? Well . . . .
Church at college consisted of going to a small chapel on Sunday nights with a wonderful chaplain that understood college students and all we were thinking. Chaplain was a great man and he assisted in not only continuing my faith during those years, but growing it! There was a group of students on campus, though, that didn't attend our small Sunday worship, but who were strong believers. This group of students were known around campus for "talking in tongues". I had heard about this, but had never seen it. I remembered how very much it scared me, on so many different levels.
- Why would they want to talk in tongues - nobody could understand them?
- Where did this come from?
- How come they could do it and I couldn't?
- Were they better Christians than I was?
- Did my sins that Jesus die for catch up with me?
Yes, all those questions and so many more flooded my mind. The whole situation had me "tongue tied" and I just wanted to come home. I remember calling my mom, asking her lots of questions, and she suggested that I speak with our long-time Pastor. The call was made and my fears were calmed. He brought up the passages that I read this morning - sharing that those who speak in tongues can sometimes assist the 'unbelievers' to believe. For us believers, we needed to continue to walk tall and prophesy the good news to those who are ready to listen. My heart stood still - and a sense of peace washed over me. It was going to be okay - I was a believer and Jesus still loved me.
It's hard to believe that a memory so strong could be jolted by reading a few Bible passages. Yet, those feelings of insecurity were so real when something happened that I didn't understand. Have you ever been there? Have you had a moment when your values or beliefs were rocked by moments of uncertainty? Did you find it as unsettling as I did? I believe that happens to us when values we hold so dear to us are challenged, questioned, or even not understood (as when those people spoke in tongues). Those moments of being unsettled can be tricky to navigate through. We can find ourselves on paths that take us down dark places.
My friend, remember this - Jesus loves us and continually watches over us. When you find yourselves in these moments, go to the place where all our fears can be calmed, all our anxious moments can be peaceful and all our insecurities can be settled. Go to the Rock of our salvation for answers. This can be done by steeping yourself in favorite Bible passages, having coffee with a dear friend, or calling on that wonderful Pastor who can guide you back to your path - the path Jesus has carved out just for you. There is much in this world today that can bring us uncertainty - whether it is the circumstances around us or people talking in tongues long ago. Either way, find comfort in the eternal comforter - Jesus. His will can be my will - as long as I follow.
"Jesus, there are times when our core values and beliefs can be shaken by people or circumstances around us. Help us, especially at those times, to be guided by those in our lives who can bring us back to those values, bring us the peace you so richly want for us, Jesus. Help us to stay on your path and not be frightened, but stand up, stand firm, and gain peace. Thank you for those you give us to help us through these journeys. In your name we pray. Amen!"