“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! … For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.” (NLT)
~ Romans 11:33, 36
“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”
“Ugh…no, I mean nein…How do you say ‘a little?’ Ein bisschen?!”
This was me several years ago. Fresh off the plane from California, our family of four had relocated to Germany to serve God in ministry. We had high hopes of learning the language quickly – everyone said it would only be a couple months before we were fluent!
We wholeheartedly jumped into life in a small German town. Our 4th and 1st grade children started school two days after we arrived! This was a German school that promised to help us learn the language (which ended up meaning full immersion, with no help in English.) This was quite the challenge!
Being an enthusiastic mom, I volunteered for the only job the school allowed me to do – cut fruit and veggies for the children’s snack time (Kinder-Snackzeit).
To say this experience was awkward is an understatement.
This was a time for moms to sit together at a round table and catch up on gossip and life and children. They spoke a mile a minute – all in a language I couldn’t understand. There was no help in English or sign language for me. I struggled each week to connect and learn and engage.
Have you ever been in a situation that feels like you’re watching more than participating? No matter what you do, you’re still an outsider? It’s isolating and lonely and uncomfortable.
In those early days of life in Germany, I thought a lot about this exact verse. This line jumped out at me, “How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways!” In those mortifying moments, where I couldn’t understand the language around me, I also couldn’t understand what God was doing. I missed home. I missed the group of moms, my dear friends, that I had connected with for the past 5 years as we watched our kids grow. I missed laughing with people, discussing day-to-day moments. I felt abandoned and alone. I questioned God and why he had sent me to this new school, new country, and new language.
But this verse also gave me such hope:
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!
How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! …
For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory.
All glory to Him forever! Amen.” (NLT)
His riches, wisdom, and knowledge…they’re great! We don’t understand His ways, but everything IS intended for His glory. This is truth from God’s word that we can count on.
I didn’t see it, but I trusted God’s plan. It was not easy, that’s for sure. Now, four years later, my kids have learned German (I’m still a work in progress!). They can communicate with their German friends. Our family has been enriched by living in Europe. Our perspective has changed and our world has been expanded in so many ways.
It wasn’t until the VERY last day of going every single week to cut those vegetables, that I had a breakthrough. The other women there had also practiced their English, and I had taken a year of German classes. Through broken English and even more broken German, we had the best conversation about purpose, heaven, God, and where my joy comes from! I don’t know if their lives were changed. I hope so. I do know mine was. And I know God always has a purpose, even when understanding it seems impossible.
- Romans 8:28
- Have you ever been in a situation that you just couldn’t understand? How did you get through those moments?
- Can you think back on a time in your life where you can truly see that God was working? How did this situation bring glory to God? Share this story with you kids or with a trusted friend.
- Is there someone in your life who is struggling to learn English? Remember this story and how isolating it can feel when communication is difficult. (This even applies to our own toddlers learning language for the first time!) Give extra grace today or learn a couple of words in their heart language.
Listen to this song this week. It’s Romans 11 beautifully set to music
Guest Author and FLC Team Member
Holly and her husband Rob have just moved back to her hometown in California, after living for 4 years in Germany. While there, she met people from all over the world. While she loved her travels, she is happy to be home, doing familiar things again like taking her son to soccer and her daughter to volleyball. Holly contributes to our monthly ScriptSub and has known Erika and Becky since their college days in Chicago.