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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recognize the Voice?

      “A-A-Al-vi-vi-vin,” rang out throughout our neighborhood as the little boy’s mother called him for supper. Funnily enough, all of the rest of us stopped that repeated check on our acquired marbles and looked at Alvin, who did not look up from his concentrated stare over his next move. Neither did he grab up his marbles and head home.  
     “Hey, Alvin,” 7-year-old Butchy said, “your mother is calling you.” Wow, like that was a bit of news, eh?!
     “Ya, I know,” replied the five-year-old, continuing his stare at the marbles still on the ground.
     “Bu-u-tchy! Suu-uus-sie! Su-u-up-per!” was the next many-syllabled call for the siblings to make their way home. If Butchy and Susie’s father was home, though, one very sharp whistle filled the neighborhood. He turned his hand palm side facing him, put his thumb and index finger together against his lips and blew, just once. Amazing just how fast the duo responded to that one shrill note!
     One of my favorites was Sidney’s dad but, perhaps, that was because I was finally able to produce the sound myself. Both hands were needed for this two-tone, lower octave whistle. Hands clasped as if one had been applauding and just kept the two hands together after the last clap, thumbs side-by-side, though slightly separated,  and distal joint (by the nail) of both thumbs flexed like a mouthpiece for the lips. Blow into the small slit between the knuckles. After making the first sound throw open the lower hand (left, for me) to hear the tone rise, thereby making the second of the two tones of this unique whistle. Sidney’s father repeated this whistle several times, though it usually only took one to get the child moving in that direction!
     Our Mom? Yes, sometimes it was the undulating, multiple syllable shout of our names but often she had already told us that we should be listening for her call. She just stepped out on the porch and yelled, “Supper!” Nothing special about it except that it was, as had been the case for little Lisa, our mother. There was no voice like hers; it was the real deal!
     Alvin ever go home for supper? Oh, yes, when his mother condensed his two-syllable name into one sharp bark, “Alvin, you want a whoo-ooopin’?”
     One very tender example of the child knowing the sound of his father’s voice came when I worked with premature babies in a major medical center. Little Jeremy… and I do mean little… fit in the palm of my hand, legs dangling off the bottom of the hand one leg on each side of the wrist, and head supported on my extended fingers. He had been born two months prematurely and it is those months in which the main thing the baby does is grow and fill out a bit. Well, he did not have time to fill-out before he made his entrance into this world; otherwise, he was fairly healthy. One evening my colleague was going to help me weigh “my babies” so I could spend more time with my overdue charts. I heard Jeremy fussing so stepped into the adjacent room to see what the problem was. I spoke to Jeremy and tried to calm him. He was used to my voice because I had been his nurse since his admission to the unit a few days before but Jeremy just would not be comforted. He wanted off that scale and that was that! Of course it is just impossible to get an accurate weight on a preemie who is squiggling around so “what to do?” Put him back in his isolette and try later? The answer came abruptly as a voice rang out from the area of the scrub sinks.
     “Jeremy, settle down. Daddy’s here.” Soon Daddy was standing right next to the scale and his soothing voice spoke comfort to his newborn son. Literally, from the moment Jeremy heard his father’s voice, his tiny limbs stopped flailing and he tilted his head towards the sound.  Jeremy’s father had spoken to the unborn baby for months and months already so his voice was very familiar to the baby only a few days old.
 When Daddy was standing right next to the scale, he was quiet and relaxed as he listened to his father tell him how much he loved him. Daddy would be spending the night right next to Jeremy’s isolette so the baby had nothing to fear. Daddy was here!

     When I was remembering the above the Scripture verses in John 10 came to mind. This is often labeled “The Good Shepherd”. As I read, I wondered if it might not be true that Father God had made us to focus on just one voice and not listen to every father’s voice. I mean, in the neighborhood, the parents were calling their child to supper and the rest of us knew it. We had not thought of answering the call and expecting to sit at the table of another family. There was only one voice to which we needed to respond. Likewise, there was only one voice we knew would be displeased and discipline us should we disobey. Sidney’s father may have taught me to duplicate the sound of his whistle but we both knew that he would not punish me when I did not come at the sound of his call. In fact, he did not want me to come! When I did something wrong, I had only my own father to give account; no other father would be setting punishment for my misdeeds. Whew, what a comfort that is!
     See what you think:

(John 10:3-5, NIV) “…and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

     May we recognize the sound of his voice as clearly as we heard that of our own father or mother calling us home from play. Truly, it is the real deal; there is no One like Him!

****Psalm 23:Reflections For Today…Coming Tomorrow

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