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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Do You Recognize God's Voice? Does He Know Yours?


Image by VoiceMonk Studio from Pixabay

When the phone rings – increasingly rare in these days of digital communication – how long does it take you to grasp the intent of the call and gauge the emotional tenor of the caller?


If it’s a good friend and you hear a cheerful, “Well, good mornin’!” you know all is well and you relax into the conversation.


If you lift the phone to your ear and sense an extended pause, you hang up quickly before a robo-call kicks in trying to convince you to purchase a car warranty or donate to a cause.


But if caller ID reveals the name of a loved one late at night, you might snatch up the phone and blurt out, “Everything OK?” before even saying hello. The first few words on the other end will either still your heart or strike it like a stone.


We put so much stock in the sound of the human voice.


It’s been over 40 years, but I still remember the look of horror on my husband’s face when he received a call telling him that one of his siblings had been shot in her workplace and left for dead. And it’s been nearly five since word came late one November night that a teenage great-nephew had died suddenly. Before he even heard the news, Mike knew it would be life-altering because of the tremor in his brother’s voice.


Most of the time, though, the resonance of another’s voice provides information, inspiration, or diversion — not trepidation.


Do you know what I’ve enjoyed most during our two months of pastoral ministry at an international church here in Norway?


It’s not the stunning Nordic land and sea, fjords and fyells, despite the photos I’ve posted for those of you following our time here on social media.


 I can show you the sights, but I can’t share with you the sounds —those of the beautiful voices here.


Between them, there are 50 or so women and men in the Bible studies we meet with on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings as well as Wednesday mornings. They represent a dozen or more different nationalities. Oh, how I wish I could record their voices for you!


There are Dumebi and Arturo from Nigeria, whose dialect seems to dignify whatever they say. There’s Mandy with her delightful Australian accent, and Lilia and Aleksei from Russia.


There’s Rachel’s refined British way of speech, and Carlynn whose rolling Scottish brogue I’d love to adopt.


 And then of course there are Lars and Kari, Crister and Knut Petter, Marielle and Pernille and Kurt and Bjørner – our Norwegian friends whose language I’m trying to learn. Mountains and fjords live within the lilt of their voices. In contrast to the distinctive Norge upward inflection, my own midwestern vowels fall flat and harsh on my ears.


The better to sit, listen, and learn.


How grateful I am that our Creator, the one who called us to himself (2 Peter 1:3), hears us whenever we cry out to him, no matter how broken our speech, how imperfect our expression.


“God is not tone-deaf,” says singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken, “to the music of our hearts. And his authority has perfect pitch.”


Like the young Samuel in I Kings, I want to recognize God’s voice when he’s speaking to me. I want to live a listening life, not mistaking him for someone else as Samuel did with Eli the priest because Samuel did not yet know the Lord.


Like Samuel, I long for the cry of my heart to be, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”


And when he speaks through others, whether in the dialect of friend or foe, sinner, saint, or stranger, may I clearly hear his voice and follow.

“When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21

Please let me hear your voices in the Comment section below.


How grateful I am to be sharing this life with you!


Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2024

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