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 your best 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 just over two since the word came late one November night that a teenaged 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 fjells, despite the gazillion 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 35 or so women and men in the Bible studies that meet in our apartment on Tuesday nights, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday evenings. They represent a dozen or more different nationalities. Oh, how I wish I could record their voices for you!
There are Gideon and Carmè from South Africa, whose beautifully modulated dialect seems to dignify whatever they say.
There’s Mandy with her delightful Australian accent, and Heidy whose speech is peppered with the spice of her native Venezuela.
There’s Catherine, Rachel, and Hannah from the UK, and Carlynn whose rolling Scottish brogue I’d love to adopt.
There’s Dumebi, Aruoture, and Itohan from Nigeria – I could listen to them for hours.
And then of course there’s Lars and Kari, Sam and Lucy, Kirsten and Pernille and Kurt and Bjørner – our Norwegian friends whose language I’m trying hard to learn. The lilt of their voices reminds me of my Norwegian family members. 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, whether in the dialect of friend or foe, sinner, saint or stranger, may I clearly hear his voice and follow.
“And 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
We're going to talk about recognizing when God's calling us in the months to come. But for now? 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, 2022
Fun news! Did you know that Maggie’s brand-new book, Life is Sweet, Y’all, is written in a different voice than her own—that of her southern alter-ego? Buckets of thanks to all y’all who have purchased copies, recommended it to others, and posted reviews! Amazon seems to primarily be allowing reviews only from Verified Purchasers on their site, which unfortunately leaves out many of those who received advance or gift copies.
However, it would be a great encouragement to Maggie and her publisher, Tyndale House, if you will kindly leave a brief review/recommendation on GoodReads, Barnes & Noble, or Christianbook.com. Just click on the name of each site, and you can copy and paste your review.
Mother’s Day is on the way! Tyndale currently has LISY for sale for only $10.49 for the hardcover, a great price-point for a hardcover gift book. Here’s the link.
(Also, did you know that Tyndale is one of the largest independently owned Christian publishers in the world? All books and Bibles, including Life is Sweet, Y’all, are available wherever books are sold, but Tyndale’s work does not stop on the last page. Profits from any book purchased go to the Tyndale House Foundation, built on supporting ministries with Bible translation, literature distribution, leadership training, and humanitarian aid. When you purchase a Tyndale book, you’re helping meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Thank you!)