I’ve lost her voice.
The lights had been pulled down, light tossed words onto screens blue as a winter sky. The congregation stood as the musicians played the first notes of the final song. I started to sing but the words caught in my throat. I swallowed the sudden emotion and bowed my head. No longer present in the moment, I lost myself in the past. Sifting through my memories, I found myself standing in a distant world, watching a slide show of a thousand images. Silent.
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness watch and pray,
Find in me your all in all.
My eyes were closed in the dim room but I could see. I pause before a picture etched, seared by a holy moment captured so long ago. I see her head lifted, hands clasped at her breast, her lips moving. The old hymn reels back time, and I see a silent movie of my grandmother worshiping in another place—in the yellow brick church sitting in the shade of mighty oaks, singing one of her favorite songs. But as much I search the recesses of my mind, I cannot find her voice.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
I’ve pondered the bittersweet reality of that experience on Sunday. And though I wish I could hear her voice, I am absolutely sure she gave me something more important than words I can no longer hear. I have the example of the life of faith that she lived before me---on Sundays when she worshiped, and on the days she lived in and around the clapboard house in the shade of the sycamores. She walked with Jesus all the days I knew her until the day cancer took her body and God took her spirit.
It’s cliché but true: Actions speak louder than words.
I owned my struggle with my tongue later in the day in conversation, “my weapon is my tongue and am I am afraid I will use it to say things I will regret and burn bridges behind me… you know I could hurt things rather than help them. I don’t want to be like that but old habits are hard to break.”
It's not my voice that will be remembered but how I lived.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt a heart of stone.
I have said it hundreds of times, a mantra of mine, “Words are powerful.” I am learning to use them with caution even as I have dipped my toe into the writing world, publicly placing them on this platform to a mostly unseen audience.
Even so, I recognize that as important as words are, as powerful as they can be to heal or to hurt, to bless or to berate, my actions speak loudest.
Jesus is the Word. His words are all-powerful. The Word upholds the world He spoke into being. Not only did He speak of the salvation that was ours if we believed in Him, He acted on the righteous requirements of a Holy God. What He did changed everything. Jesus loved the whole world and He proved it when He surrendered to death on a cross, taking the full weight of the wrath of God, conquering death in resurrection.
Twenty years may have taken my Grandma’s voice from me, but I find strength in the life she lived, her faith in action, a simple woman with a 8th grade education and a driving passion for the Lover of her Soul.
I want a life that speaks even when I don’t use words.
When words are necessary---as they often are---I want to speak the truth in love.
I open wide for the bridle. I know my heart’s desire can only happen by the power of God.
“Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
(Ps. 19:14 ESV)
Do you know this struggle? We know the power of the tongue but silence speaks as well. Which is more important, keeping silent or speaking up? How do we find the balance?
(“Jesus Paid it All,” Elvina M. Hall, 1865)