One of the hymns I enjoy singing in church is "Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul." It's a hymn that has a nice little echo part on the chorus ("filled my soul/made me whole/filled my soul"). The echo part is sung by the tenors and the altos.
Unfortunately, in our church, not many people are confident enough singers to do those echo parts, so you usually can't hear it very well. But last night was kind of interesting...
From where I was sitting, I couldn't hear any women singing the echo part, except on the "s" of "soul." "S" sounds tend to cut through a mix of sound (which is why recording studios have "de-essers").
But here's what was interesting about hearing this "s" sound: I was sitting on one side of the church, and my parents were sitting a couple pews away on the other side of the church, but even as far away as I was from them, the moment I heard that "s" sound, I thought "Oh, my mother is singing the echo part."
Now, I never would have thought that my mother's voice is that distinctive, and I certainly wouldn't have guessed that I could recognize her voice just from an "s" sound!
And then I got to wondering...would anyone else there at church have recognized her voice just from that one sound? Probably my dad, and my brother, but I doubt any other people would have picked her voice out of the crowd. Why? Because they don't know her voice as well as we do. For the first eighteen years of my life, I grew up hearing her voice every day, and I know her voice. Not many people know her voice that well.
Then, this morning, I bumped into Jerry, and we got talking about his grandchildren. He has two granddaughters who are identical twins -- Erica and Lindsay. Jerry said, "My wife can tell them apart, just from hearing their voices on the telephone." Amazing...it's enough of a challenge for me to tell them apart when I can see them!
This all made me think of something Jesus said in John 10:
Interesting, isn't it? Jesus says that his sheep will recognize his voice, but they won't recognize the voice of strangers. The implication is that Jesus is not a stranger to us. How many people expect to hear the voice of God in their lives, but are not willing to get to know the shepherd?
To know Jesus, to understand who He is, and to immerse yourself in the stories of His life, His death, and His resurrection, as found in the gospels and epistles, this should be one of our deepest desires and goals in life.
It doesn't come naturally -- a year ago I wouldn't have had a hope of telling Erica and Lindsay apart, but as I get to know them better, I recognize the differences between them more and more. So it is with Jesus -- the better I know Him, the more easily I will recognize His leading in my life.
It is one of my habits and practices in Bible reading that, no matter what else I might be reading in scripture, I plan to read through each of the gospels at least once during the year, so I never forget the voice of our Savior and our Shepherd.