My wife and I rented bikes in Central Park two weeks ago. It was a beautiful day in NYC and the park was crowded with folks from the City getting in their weekend exercise. The couple in line in front of us where carefully attempting to take note of all of the details surrounding renting their bicycles for the next four hours. They stumbled through the process to the best of their ability, but it was obvious that they missed most of what was communicated, you see, they were French. Their English was broken at best.
As they paid for their rental and turned to leave, I smiled at them and nodded encouragingly and they smiled back. It was a brief moment, but in that moment we connected a bit emotionally. They didn’t know it, but I could so relate to the experience they just had. On over 10 mission trips I have often felt out of my element because of a language barrier. Trying to rent a hotel room in Lima, Peru… communicating my destination to a taxi driver… asking someone if I could pray for them… buying a coke — at least I did get that one down! I learned “Donde esta los banos, por favor?” pretty quickly! If you don’t know that you will have to google it.
We spent a little over a day in NYC and I heard, Russian, French, Arabic, Spanish, Hindi, Swedish, Dutch, German and Ukrainian as well as many others that I didn’t recognize from places like Africa. The cultural and ethnic diversity in NYC from both residents and visitors is astounding. Often during that weekend, my thoughts drifted toward Heaven. Perhaps a melting pot like NYC gives us just a sneak peek of the cultural and ethnic diversity we will experience in Heaven.
The Apostle John got a sneak peek too, he writes, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9 NIV. One of the joys I am so looking forward to experiencing someday is the cultural diversity of Heaven. It will be a constant reminder to us of the creativity of Almighty God.
Perhaps we will be able to understand every language spoken in Heaven. Perhaps we will speak a common language in Heaven — Revelation 7:10 seems to imply so… or maybe it will be both; but one thing is sure… Heaven will boast a culturally rich diversity, and we will have an eternity to interact with each and every one. Maybe it’s a long shot, but wouldn’t it be cool if I could meet that French couple again in Heaven, and this time… we could do more than just smile.