And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7 ESV).
THERE IS NOTHING like a loving, familiar voice.
It can evoke some of the most intense emotions regardless of an individual’s surroundings.
Take a toddler for instance. Waking up in the middle of the night, still confused with sleep, but startled, calling out for his mother; a mother who with superhuman-like qualities can calm and soothe that child with just the sound of her voice.
The connection between hearing and comfort does not only find its place between a child and its mother.
It can be found in the soft nuzzling whispers between spouses, between friends offering a reassuring word.
It is experienced with the voice of a counselor, mentor, pastor, medical doctor and the like, who also share in the ability to bring solace and peace to our troubled minds and hearts.
Hearing, listening and perceiving a loving and familiar voice possesses the ability to provide safety amid insecurity, direction in the darkness and hope amid despair.
Perhaps that is why the familiar voice, once heard over the waters of the Jordan River with Jesus’s baptism, is heard again at the Transfiguration of our Lord commanding us to open our ears to Christ.
You do not need me to tell you that there are a lot of voices out there in the world vying for your attention.
Some are helpful, most are not.
Those that are not are those that solicit and exploit our weaknesses.
They tell us that we will not get caught, that doing something once or twice is not bad, or convince us to keep our pain to ourselves.
They tell us that the health and wellbeing of our neighbors is not our business, that religion is a private matter, that we can only truly trust ourselves and to go with our gut in most circumstances, even though it has led us astray time after time.
However, the most troubling voices are the ones that tell us what we want to hear.
They reinforce our prejudice, harden our hearts and deafen our ears to voices of health and healing.
They convince us to embrace and to be proud of the lies that we have told ourselves.
Yet there is a liberating voice that calls us out of delusion, disorientation and despair. It is the voice of our Good Shepherd.
To the one confused by doubt, filled with questions about God and His identity, the Good Shepherd declares, “I am the way, truth, and life.”
To the person weighed down by a moaning and grieving conscience, His soothing voice announces, “Go, your sins are forgiven.”
To the lonely, isolated, forgotten and abandoned, He fills their ears with the promise, “I will never leave nor forsake you.”
For the wondering soul contemplating their self-worth, He speaks of the immeasurable value that is found in the reality that He could not imagine His world without them in it, so much so that He would bleed and die so they could be with Him forever.
To those with tears streaming down their face because of how death has robbed them of their loved ones, He points back to when He said to Jairus’s daughter, “I say to you arise.”
Then He proclaims the confident victory found in how that same voice will be spoken to all those who have gone before them into the valley of the shadow of death.
To you and me He utters the reminder, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.”
Our Good Shepherd’s voice is sent out into all of our hearts, teaching us that He has chosen all of us by His grace.
He continually calls out to us by His Gospel, that all may have eternal life through Him and live to the glory of God.
There is nothing like a familiar voice.
It can evoke confidence and direction amid life’s disorienting days.
This familiar voice is the voice of God, proclaiming the Kingdom of God drawing near through Him.
If His voice is not familiar, or has become lost in your past, hear again the voice of the Father from the text above, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
Learn from Him, hold His Word dear and use it as a light to your path in this life.
To Him be all the Glory.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy is pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected].com.