1 Samuel 3:1-10 Finding One’s Voice
In the past I have had a recurring dream or rather nightmare. In my dream I am in trouble. I am about to drown or suffocate or be mugged or murdered. I try to call for help but I can’t get the word ‘help’ out. I open my mouth, but no words come, not even a scream. I can’t find my voice. It is a terrible feeling of helplessness. It makes me think about how I would react if it were really happening. But it is not only in violent situations that I can’t find my voice, there are often times that I get frustrated that I can’t find the words to say to express what I believe, or to express my opinion, or the wisdom that has come to me.
How do we find our voice? By that I mean giving voice to the best that is within us and acting on the best that is within us. Speaking and acting from the light that is within us.
From the story of Samuel as a young boy learning to hear the voice of God, we too learn the importance of listening for God speaking to us. Samuel wasn’t just a good listener to God, Samuel went on to be one of the most important prophets in Israel. Not only did he hear what God was saying, he acted on what he heard and he articulated to the nation what God was doing. Not only did he find his ears for God he also found his voice for God.
One of the most famous sayings of George Fox, the founder of the Quakers was, “Let your life speak.” George Fox, believed that each individual has the capacity for direct dialogue with God. God, he believed, appears to us through a divine inner voice, an inner light shared by all. Revelation from God would occur if people joined together in silence and opened their hearts to the divine voice within. Fox taught that if we can achieve stillness of Spirit, God will speak to us out of the silence, and by heeding the voice of God our lives will speak to others through our actions. Actions and well chosen words were what was most important for George Fox in voicing what God was saying.
How does one find one’s voice? How does one express or articulate what God may be saying to us? Or is this only for prophets and preachers? One of the authors of the book ‘Get up off your knees,’ (a collection of preacher’s sermons about U2), said in the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book that she was grateful to her Bishop for encouraging her to follow her dream of completing a PhD for in doing so it helped her to find her voice. It give her a means of articulating what was within her, of putting it out there for others to hear.
A PhD, an essay, letters to the editor, letters to politicians, letters to colleagues, letters to friends, sermons, participating in discussions, writing books, writing poems, writing songs, singing, drama, art, craft, dance etc. All these things give us vehicles to find our voice.
Living what we believe through our actions also gives voice to the ways of God. Acting out of truth and justice, peace and love, speak forth of a God who is loving and just. It’s about bringing out the best that is within us. In doing so we are nurturing our common humanity.
Have you ever felt that your life wasn’t speaking for you? Or that you had something within that you wanted to express to another person or to the world, but you just could not articulate it? Have you ever felt that God had said something to you, something that was helpful for the world but you just can’t get it out? What stops us from finding our voice?
Sometimes, fear prevents us from speaking up or speaking out. It stops us from writing that book, displaying our art, risking loving another person. I think that one of the ways of overcoming fear is by being able to articulate it. Saying, ‘I am afraid’ is a great start. It may not be what others want to hear. But getting it out from within is a great help. Squeezing out the fear can be quite painful and potentially embarrassing. But being able to squeeze out those words can be such a relief. An understanding friend might then ask, “Where did this fear come from?” or, “How did this fear get a hold of you?” or “What is it that is causing you to be fearful?” or, “What effect is the fear having upon you?” “Are there times when the fear was not there?” Again, putting it out there, articulating it, helps us to give voice to our desire to be rid of the effects that fear is having upon our lives.
We can find our voice by articulating first our fear and when our fear is out there, rather than in here, then our voices can speak forth of the freedom and joy of God. Our voices can speak out the truth we know within. From the depths of our being we can voice the praise of a liberating God and we can say ‘I am a child of the most wonderful liberating God.’
As you called your disciples, open our ears to your calling, open our eyes to your presence, open our hearts to your love; that we may hear you, and hearing you may love you, and loving you may serve you.
We have come to listen to you, O God: not only with our ears, but with our heart, and with our mind, and with our whole being.
Open us, that we might receive the truth that you speak to us.
Photo: County Galway, Republic of Ireland
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Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation