When a being has a voice, one responds to it quite differently. My English professor predicts that vegetarians will dominate the future, for after advancements in technology enable us to communicate with animals, we will be appalled that we were ever so carnivorous. In the past 20 years, literary theorists have ascribed greater value to slave narratives. These writings impacted the culture’s perception of the humanity of slaves. Possessing a voice demands recognition. It demands things change on the vocalist’s behalf.
I believe in the voice of God.
I was fifteen when my mother dragged her reluctant son into the store-front Christian gathering. Being a preacher’s son, the emotional roller-coaster of church services was all too familiar. Exciting my emotions during the musical set, driving hard at guilt during a sermon, and the pseudo-salvation at the altar call had not wrought in me the life that the Bible had promised. In fact, I was thinking more about death than I ever had. After pouring over pages of internet pornography, I would lie in my bed weeping, listening to Nirvana, and vainly searching for the courage to commit suicide.
I was forced to attend the service that very humid Alabama summer Saturday night. Being a few minutes late, my family went unrecognized, slipping into the back row of folding chairs. Music filled the room for the next hour. The multitude of warm bodies that crowded the tiny space danced, moved, sweated with the pulses of the music. Tears stained the cheeks of some, while vibrant smiles tattooed the faces of others.
My heart was torn with an array of emotions. I wanted to engage along with these passionate folks; I wanted to jeer and laugh in mockery. I wanted to lift my hands; I wanted to shove them into the depths of my pockets. As the music continued, I resigned to neutrality and sat in my chair.
At that moment, through a forty-something-year-old woman at the front of the building, the voice of God came to me very loudly. The lady picked up a microphone as the noise of the place quieted. She began describing a young man, one who had been tortured all night, wanting to leave.
“You can’t leave,” she said intently, her eyes searching the audience. “You can’t leave because you are depressed and suicidal and God wants to set you free.” My body tingled intensely, for in her voice there was something drawing me, calling me to respond. Fighting back the shame of hundreds of eyes that would be upon me, I shoved into the aisle and gained pace, running to the front. And with hands raised and tears pouring from my tightly shut eyes, the love of God embraced me as the weight of sin and depression rolled off my shoulders.
God has a voice. He exercises it, intending the hearer’s movement. The recognition demands glorious change. This I believe.
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