Flunking Sign Language
This devotional column needs no introduction. I admit that I’m failing and it’s my own fault. Thanks be to God for His eternal grace and willingness to give second chances.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Our church is blessed to have a member who knows and teaches sign language. She and another member, who is hearing impaired, are teaching some of us how to sign. Take it from someone who has a college degree in English but nearly flunked Spanish—and at one time failed to learn basic Swedish words—learning sign language is difficult. In fact, I’m flunking.
My problem, I’ve decided, is not taking the time to retrain my brain to speak and listen differently. Being what is considered a visual person, I have a hard time transferring my mind pictures to hand pictures. I realize now how closely related hearing is to seeing. The process of hearing with our eyes requires change. And change is not always easy. For instance, when training my puppy years ago, she too found it hard to understand—and ultimately to obey—my spoken words that worked in conjunction with my hand gestures.
Reading signs is a habit for most of us. When we see a hexagonal red sign, we know to stop our vehicle. Our brains compute naturally to slow down at a curve in the road when we see the clearly marked sign. New signs take longer to learn and remember. We must make an effort to store them in our brain’s hard-drive.
Sign language applies to our spiritual lives, too. God showed the Israelites countless, dramatic signs of His power and love. His signs, even when strengthened with His Words, still caused many people to doubt. Jesus also gave many visual signs of healing and deliverance, which many Jewish leaders rejected. Jesus said, “…seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Quoting Isaiah, He said, “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed ….” (Matthew 13:13-14)
Lord, give us the desire to take time in retraining our brains so we can hear Your truths not only with our ears but also with our hearts. Open our eyes to Your wonders and works. Give us new vision and new hearing so we won’t flunk Your sign language. Give us the will and strength to follow Your Words from James 1:22 to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving (our)selves.” We want to follow Your true law of love—hearing with our hearts and then serving others in Jesus’ name.