Theology, Calling, and the Thai Language

Our Thai language study has been coming along nicely since our landing here in 2012, especially considering my keen ability to immediately forget anything I hear or learn. However, as you can imagine there are frustrating times where it seems we will never achieve true mastery, or if we do, its going to take yet another five years.  At many points I’ve lamented, “Why can’t Thais just speak Spanish?”

Despite these frustrations, we occasionally come across some really cool things.

So now for a quick Thai morphological study.

Thai is a monosyllabic language, which means that generally each word is made up of only one syllable, and then these syllables are combined to create new compound words.

Sometimes these combinations don’t make a lick of sense.  For example the word “responsible” translates to rab bpit chawp (รับผิดชอบ), and individually these syllables mean: receive, wrong, like.  Of course, naturally, put these disparate words together to make “responsible,” NOT!

However, in other cases, individual syllables come together to make complete sense and end up being really cool.  Amanda came across one such word a couple months ago.

“The Will of God” is translated naam pra tai (นำ้พระทัย), and each of these syllables means water, *word designating divinity, and prestigious word for heart.  This again might sound random, but looking to another word for clarification will help.  Naam jai (นำ้ใจ) means water and heart, and when put together it creates the meaning of generosity or kindness, as if someone’s kindness flows from their heart like water would from a spring or river.

So when Thai Christians think about the word naam pra tai, or the Will of God, they think about God’s heart flowing out from within Him.  God’s heart is that his people be at the center of his will.  Some might turn this into a difficult question, asking things like “Should I move to the mission field?” or “Did I make a mistake becoming an accountant?”, but the answer is quite simple.

According to Scripture, God’s will is that you love Him and love others(Mark 12:30-31), give thanks to Him (1 Thess 5:18), free yourself from sin (1 Thess 4:3), and spread His name across the world (Mark 16:15, Psalms 105:1, Acts 1:8), among many other things.

God lays it out pretty clearly in his Word.

None of this is easy to do, especially when we try to do it through our own meager strength, but God isn’t in the business of trying to confuse you.  God’s heart flows freely and clearly to you through his Word.  Stop garbling the message with silly questions that only distract you and freak you out.

I believe everyone needs to seriously consider moving to the overseas mission field for ministry, as it is seriously, sinfully, and shockingly understaffed, but the more basic questions should be these:

  • Are you loving God?
  • Are you loving others?
  • Are you thankful to Him?
  • Are you working alongside the Holy Spirit to continually sanctify your heart from sin?
  • Are you actively and passionately going “into all the world and preaching the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15)?

Consider these questions and allow the Holy Spirit to encourage or convict where necessary, just as He has done in my own heart.

Leave thoughts, comments, and perhaps what God has been doing in your life in the comment section of this post.

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