December 30, 2016


Luke 2:50-51 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.

It struck me as I read this just now that there were communication problems even in the Holy Family! Two people can be using the same words but each have a different frame of reference, so their words and minds don’t connect. It’s also important to note that even so, Jesus was not rebellious toward Mary and Joseph. The English says He “was obedient to” them, but the Japanese says He “served” them. That attitude isn’t so common in most teenagers! What I think we need to take from this is that hearing is far more than taking in the vibrations we call sound. Maybe this sort of experience was why Jesus spoke so many times about “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23 and many more) Our problem in hearing God accurately is that always our frame of reference is vastly more limited than His, but even between two people, the more different our life experiences, the more difficult it can be to communicate on more than a surface level. That’s a major factor in male/female communication, because the biological/physiological differences automatically generate different frames of reference. Every one of us needs the grace and help of God to communicate and get along with our fellow human beings!

Recognizing the complexities in communication made me switch from a Chemistry major to an English major in college. (I ended up with a Speech/English major, which was really Drama/Creative Writing.) Having been born and raised in Japan, I had an extremely different frame of reference from my classmates in a school in East Tennessee! One of the biggest factors in my deciding to marry Cathy was that I felt we could communicate. I now know that was because she also had a frame of reference that was strong on music, creativity and faith, but my thinking wasn’t quite so clear at the time. I can’t say there weren’t other factors, too! That said, our communication hasn’t always been smooth in the years since 1969, but we have both worked at it, and that has made a big difference. Ministering in Japan, communication could be said to be 90+% of my life, for good or for bad. Communication difficulties abound, to the point that I probably couldn’t even list them all. I have got to maintain humility, first toward God and also toward the people around me, because the moment I get proud, I stop really hearing them. Different frames of reference isn’t a matter of blame, it’s simply a fact of life. I’ve got to seek and depend on the help of the Holy Spirit to get it as right as possible, and not dwell on misunderstandings. One of the biggest things I have to look forward to in heaven (to hear the reports of those who have been there) is perfect communication!

Father, thank You for this reminder this morning. Thank You for the awareness of communication You have given me over the years. Help me be Your agent all the time, communicating accurately with You and with those around me and helping them to do likewise, so that the lies of the enemy may be exposed and defeated and Your truth set people free indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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