My Mama started this funny little tradition a few years ago where she calls me on my birthday and says, “This many years ago right now Daddy and I were on our way to the hospital.” And then, she’ll tell me a cute and poignant and slightly embarrassing story about when I was born.
A couple of years ago, the story went like this:
“When you were born, you didn’t cry. I was so scared! I looked at your father and at the nurse and said, ‘Why isn’t my baby crying?!’ And then you screamed—and it was the most beautiful sound in the world! And you’ve never stopped!”
(I’ll pause so that you can laugh now. That really was funny. Especially if you know me. Kimae. Amber. Joell. Papa Bear.)
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Above emphasis mine)
Over the last month or so, I’ve sensed God helping me find a better balance in some things in my life. And one of those things is this thing. This never knowing when to speak or when to be quiet. And really, I had come to a point where I was almost ready to withdraw because I would rather be silent than say the wrong thing or say too much of the right thing.
And then, I got an email from a friend.
“Thank you. Hearing what you have to say makes my day better.”
And I realized that withdrawing isn’t the answer. There is a time to be silent. But there’s a time to speak, too.
Let me challenge you with the same challenge that I’ve been given.
In college, I majored in English and minored in Spanish, but I also received a certification to Teach English as a Second Language (ESL). And what that meant for me was that I spent a lot of time studying not just the languages themselves, but also Language Acquisition and Linguistics. We talked about the building blocks of language—about dialects and accents.
Now, everybody that has heard me talk knows that I have an accent. I don’t just have an accent. I have a unique dialect. Everywhere I go it seems I pick up a word or phrase or pronunciation. For example, I pronounce “pajamas” differently than anyone in my family. And every time I use the word in front of my mother, she says, “Where did you get that pronunciation?” Truth is, I don’t know. I just picked it up somewhere. And ever since I’ve returned from Africa this time, for some unexplainable reason, I’ve begun calling public restrooms “washrooms” like they do overseas. (It just stuck in my head, I guess.) But the point I’m trying to make is that my voice—my accent—my dialect—are different than anyone else in the world. There is nobody, anywhere that sounds exactly like me.
(There’s a challenge coming, I promise! I’m getting there!)
Just as I have a unique dialect, there are people that will hear the truth or the Gospel a hundred times and never “get” it—until they hear it in my distinct dialect. There will be others that will hear my voice and find it annoying or unintelligible. But for the ones whose ears God has opened, my dialect will be the one that they can understand.
So, here’s the challenge:
Let God use your voice. God created you with a voice and a dialect and an accent just as unique as mine. There are people in your world that are waiting to hear the truth and God’s love and they’re waiting to hear it in your voice.
13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”