One Week Without a Voice: Lesson Two

Eight days after I woke up squeaking and sputtering air instead of greeting the start of a new day with my normal cheerful voice . . . (okay, maybe I don’t wake up like Cinderella, singing to birds with a smile ever morning) . . . but still, eight days after I woke up and couldn’t talk, I still sound like an alien in my own body.

My voice scratches a bit and I’ve taken a step down from a normal alto range into a definitive tenor.

Still, it’s an improvement.  I can sit and hold a conversation with friends.  I read about ten books to my toddler this morning while she sat on the potty.  I can call out to my older girls reminders to “Be nice.  Don’t be unkind.  Stop being nasty to each other.  If you can’t get along, I’m going to pack up your game so you can’t play.”

These are important and necessary skills for me, a busy wife and mom and friend.  Today, I’m thankful for the voice I have, scratchy and low as it is, because the essential truth is I’m no longer voice-less.

And there are others who never feel that freedom.  Some people never seem to gain a voice, not after years of anguished pleas.  Not after infant’s tears in a forlorn and overlooked makeshift bed, crying out to an unresponsive mama or parents that simply aren’t there.

Living one week without a voice reminded me that there are some people who are perpetually voiceless.  No amount of cough drops, hot tea with lemon and honey, or throat spray is going to tune the world into the sound of their need.

Our God, though, is a hearer of silenced cries.  When Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sitting hopeless by a roadside, yelled out to Jesus as he passed by, the crowd tried to hush him up.    “They rebuked him, telling him to be silent” (Mark 10:47).

What could Jesus care for a blind beggar?  Why stop and heal someone so clearly overlooked by every . . . other . . . person.

Refusing to be silenced, though, Bartimaeus screamed louder and Jesus stopped the mob of fawning followers so he could listen to a man in need.

“What do you want me to do for you?”   That’s all Jesus asked.  That’s all he needed to ask in order to assure a blind beggar that finally someone had heard his cry for help.  Bartimaeus, voiceless no longer, presented his clear and simple request: “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (Mark 10:51)

More than just a miracle of sight for a blind man occurred there that day.  It was the miracle of God hearing the pleas of a voiceless one amidst a noisy crowd.

In the same way, when a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years ducked her head in shameful desperation and slipped into the crowd surrounding Jesus, she was a voiceless one.  Her society and culture, the laws of her faith, declared her unclean.  Unfit for human contact.  Unable to live among her people.  Cut off from public worship.

In faith, she ran her hand along the hem of Jesus’ robe, trusting that the tiniest touch could heal her.

Jesus could have let her slip away from the crowd unnoticed.  No need for her to risk discovery in a mob who thought her very presence would taint them and stain their purity.

But he didn’t.  Jesus gave voice to the voiceless.  He asked, “Who touched me” and waited for her to speak up, to declare her presence and give testimony.  It was as if he was telling her, “You haven’t just received physical healing.  You are welcome in this place.  These people need to hear what you have to say.  No more sneaking into a crowd and then slipping out the back.”

Even she recognized the impact of Jesus’ question, realizing “that she was not hidden” (Luke 8:47).  No, not hidden anymore.  Instead, “trembling, and falling down before him (she) declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him”

It was likely her first act of public worship and her first unashamed speech in 12 years.

Don’t you love this about our Lord?  That He hears when no one else will hear?  That His passion and heart are for the neediest and weakest among us?  That He’s given us a voice and He listens when we call for Him?

This is His character.
More than that, this is supposed to be the character of his people.

In the book of Nehemiah, this cup-bearer to a foreign King, a man with responsibility and high position, asked his brother for reports about his homeland and the people who had returned to Jerusalem.

Kelly Minter in Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break notes this about Nehemiah’s character:  “He wanted to know.  Sometimes I shield myself from finding out what’s really going on with people for fear I’ll be held responsible.  Because with information often comes responsibility; if we know, we might be required to do something”(p. 13).

We may want to remain blind and deaf to need, but Nehemiah wanted to know.  And when he heard about the state of his people, he responded with prayer and action.

All because he served a God who hears and cares about those with no voice.  We serve that same God—do we hear and care?

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Working Together

Had you seen me that day, you would have thought I discovered hidden pirate treasure or the Lost City of Atlantis.

Instead, it was a small dark blue suitcase sitting outside a local thrift store.

I spotted it from my car and parked in record time.  Power walking over to the store front, I darted my eyes side to side to make sure no one else had also seen this fabulous find and was determined to race me for it.

Once my hand was on the handle, I quickly inspected it, tried out the zipper, decided it was the most perfect little suitcase ever manufactured and carried it inside where I handed the cashier $2 so I could take it home.

Finding that suitcase made my day and it’s not because I’m packing for an overnight trip.

No, it’s because a friend of mine has a passion and she invited others to join in a mission with her.  So now I feel personally commissioned to locate and obtain small suitcases in good condition and when I’m on a mission, look out world!

I’m not the only one hunting for these bags either.  Others are doing the same thing.  And to think, yard sale season hasn’t even begun yet!

You can read all about Andrea’s passion here at her blog.

In her time as a foster mom, Andrea’s had three little ones come to her family with their belongings in trash bags.  It turns out, that’s “normal” for foster children.  They are uprooted from the only home and family they know, sent to live with strangers, and the few items that they own–their most precious possessions—are toted along with them in a bag meant for garbage.

It’s pretty hard to imagine any child feeling special, loved, and secure with that as their “normal.”

So, Andrea wants to change that and she asked us to join with her.  Her goal is to collect enough suitcases so that each child who comes through our local fostering agency can toss the garbage bag where it belongs—in the trash can—and have the dignity of carrying their belongings in real luggage.  She calls it Suitcase of Love.

Here’s what excites me.  I just started Kelly Minter’s study on Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break and it’s got Andrea’s project written all over it.  It’s God’s Word carried out in daily life.

Nehemiah had a passion, too.  After hearing from his brother about the ruinous state of the walls around their homeland of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was broken-hearted.  He entered a season of intense fasting and prayer that lasted for months.  During that time, he made calculations, charted plans, and considered possibilities.

With permission from King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah traveled back to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the walls surrounding the holy city.

We’re told that Nehemiah had come “to promote the welfare of the Israelites” and that “God had put it in (his) heart” to tend to the safety of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:10, 12, NIV).

God had given him this passion for his people.

In her study, Kelly Minter asks, “Who has God asked you to promote the welfare of?” and “What has God put it on your heart to do?”

For Andrea, it’s clear that her God-given passion is for foster children.  For Nehemiah, his divine passion was the safety of his people.

But God doesn’t give us these burning desires on behalf of others so that we can go it alone.  He doesn’t so much assign personal projects as He anoints leaders who will invite and encourage others to join them in the work.

Nehemiah could have tried to clear the rubble from the old walls, cut and placed new stones and cemented them into place all on his own.

He would have failed.

Instead, he rallied the people of God to work together to rebuild their city. Nehemiah chapter 3 is the story of what happens when people are unified for a cause.  It tells us exactly who was involved in the rebuilding project and at the end of almost every section we’re told who was working “next to him” (Nehemiah 3:2, 4, 7 . . . ).  Goldsmiths, merchants, town officials and temple servants learned new skills in the construction trade in order to get the job done.

That’s because God’s people work best when we’re working next to each other for the same goal.

Not only that, but Nehemiah 3 also encourages us to find ways not just to involve the community, friends, or churches in our projects, but to train up our kids in compassionate service, as well.

Nehemiah 3:12 says, “Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.”

It was Take Your Daughter To Community Work Day.

We can’t support every cause or solve every problem.  We can’t assist in every crisis or care for every need.  We’d never get anything accomplished if we tried to lend a hand to every good cause.

But when God breaks our heart on behalf of others, it’s His way of showing us where to work.

Then, instead of struggling on our own, we share that passion with those around us and maybe they pick up tools and stand next to us, rebuilding broken down walls together.

And we bring our kids alongside.  My daughter asked me last night, “What’s the suitcase for, Mom?”   I told her all about it.  So, now I’m not the only one hunting for luggage as I drive about town.

We’re doing it together.

You can read about Suitcase of Love here at Andrea’s blog.
You can find out more about Kelly Minter’s study, Nehemiah: A Heart That Breaks here.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King