Find Your Voice

2:35 PMHeather

Apparently, my blog post on Thursday--"Tell Your Story"--has a sequel. And this is it. I assure you--none of it was planned. I'm just living on a wing and a prayer here and doing what I feel led to do, which is rather this inexplicable glory of taking dictation.   It's really best anyway...for me to just be clicking the keys and letting the words spill from what I think the Lord wants to say through this blog. That's what my heart beat is for this space. To just be the pen in the hands of the Writer, offering to you whatever he wants you to hear.

So listen up.

Because this is indeed, the unintentional sequel to my bossy directive to tell your story.

You see, silence isn't always golden. In fact, sometimes silence is deadly. Sometimes inaction and quiet and a refusal to speak out or speak up is actually the WORST thing you can do. Although it's usually the easiest thing to do.  

Gotta say it again...I'm on a roll here with fresh revelations from reading God's word and all that I am learning for the FIRST time about who God really is, what his character is really like and how he wants us to live out our relationship with him on our time here on earth.

This is the zinger from today.

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.
Luke 11:14

While I can't recall this being a story we focused on in Sunday School at any point in my life, I'm quite sure that I've read it before at some point. But I must've glossed on by, seeing little application or relevance.

Not today.

There, in black and white, tagged on to telling your story, Jesus is saying to find your voice.

You see, sometimes evil is silence. Sometimes the enemy works against us by silencing us. He works against us by stealing our voice, killing our boldness, and destroying our words before even one is spoken.

Sometimes, it's not what the enemy is trying to make us DO that's the biggest threat. But in fact, it's what he is trying to keep us from doing.  It's how he holds us back to keep us silent and ineffective and not moving ahead. It's how he keeps us from taking a step forward or uttering a word. These tactics can be his best weapon against us. Against change. Against new things. Against the movements of God that we might be invited to be part of.

If he can only keep us mute.

But when we dare, through the power and the boldness and the authority of Jesus...when we dare to find our voice, the crowd might be amazed.

The people around us might be in awe. They might be moved. Impacted. Inspired. And the ripple effect could be, it just might become a tidal wave stirred by the smallest pebble of our words. Our voice. Our action.

Luke 11:15-16 goes on to tell us about the speculation and confusion that followed, just after the crowd was amazed. As people often do, they quickly went from AWE to questioning and naysaying and criticizing and judging. The words we dare to proclaim and declare--the stories we dare to tell--well, they may be well received initially and then misunderstood. 

This was true for this man who suddenly spoke after being mute. 

The people questioned motives and the source of the words and the intention. They pushed for proof that it was really God behind the words. 

But here's the thing. The crowds around us are often amazed one second and skeptical the next. Just look at the news stories and celebrity gossip and public opinion that changes so quickly it causes whiplash as we watch it all go back and forth. People are fickle. People are our biggest supporters one minute and our biggest critics the next.

Even so, we must find our voice. Even so, we must allow ourselves to be freed to speak. Even so, we must see where silence is actually an evil we are allowing because we are refusing to tell our story. We must dare to be a voice where only silence currently reigns.

What if Martin Luther King junior had chosen silence and the easy way? Scared of opposition and the crowd's response. Surely, he was a man who was most loved by some, most hated by others. 

But he found his voice.

What if Paul was silenced by the opposition instead of boldly proclaiming the truth and penning most of the New Testament? What if he cared more about how he might be perceived than he did about being courageous enough to do what he felt God called him to do?

What if Joseph hadn't spoken up to interpret dreams back in Egypt? What if he cowered in the prison he found himself and did not tell Pharaoh the bad news of the impending drought and famine? He would have missed his opportunity to be part of God's bigger story to save his people from destruction.

What if Anne Frank didn't write in her diary? What if the persecuted church world wide decided to shut their mouths and quit taking their stand for Jesus? What if they feared the oppressor more than their Defender?

Luke 11:17-20 goes on to tell us how Jesus knew the fickle minds and the critical thoughts of the crowd...the ones who were initially amazed. And he defends the voice of the freed man and declares his own Lordship.

Jesus answers for the man.

Jesus will answer for us.

And his opinion is the only one that matters.

So let us not have our mouths muzzled by the crowd or our speculation of the crowd when Jesus is freeing us, calling us, asking us, encouraging us, equipping us to speak up. He is releasing us to say what he intends for us to share with a hurting and desperate world.

We must not stay silent for fear of being judged or misunderstood. We must see that our silence...our inaction...might actually be the the evil that the enemy desires. It might actually be the way that the enemy is holding us back from what God is intending us to do.

I don't know what your story is. I don't know what your voice needs to declare. But if you feel a pit in your stomach because something is coming to mind and it scares you to death, it is likely the very thing you are supposed to do. 

Perhaps you are to read this and to find the courage through Jesus' authority to tell your story. To someone who needs to hear it. To someone who would be helped by it. 

Maybe you are to just share your story initially with one person. Maybe you'll have a bigger platform eventually. Maybe you start by journaling it out first. As a carthartic way to begin to find your voice. 

Maybe there is an injustice or a cause that you cannot shake. It just eats at you and you don't know what to do about it. You may or may not be the next Martin Luther King junior and you may or may not be given a grand audience. But maybe you can figure out how you can get involved. 

Because there is so much suffering in the world and God clearly calls us to be the voice for the oppressed. 

Orphans. Homelessness. Human trafficking. Poverty. Government corruption worldwide. The persecuted church. Slavery. The marginalized. The victimized. The hurting. The hungry.

So don't be mute. Don't allow silence to fill the void where action is needed.

Maybe you take the weight of what you can do and what you're skilled at and what your sphere of influence is and then you completely throw it all behind that cause that tears at you. You can use social media or your own blog or this blog or your free time to volunteer for that cause. 

You don't have to reinvent the wheel to be a great leader and contributer to the cause. There is much kingdom work to be done. And every last one of us have a part in it. You can find someone doing good work and lend your time and talents to them. 

I haven't been to Africa, but my friend Cyndi has a non-profit working there to feed and care for orphans and vulnerable children. I'm good at planning things and organizing, so I plan an annual Swap & Shop to be a voice and fundraiser for the cause.

My friend Jen is going through some hard places. She so eloquently updates her sister's Caring Bridge to convey how God is working and how their family is doing and to give words to their situation.

My cousin has spent time in India and had first-hand experience with the company employing the marginalized women in that area. As the mom of two little ones now, she stays involved by helping to sell the products that those women make, as her way to being their voice in her own home town.

Another friend went through a trauma years ago. It was hard and brutal. She has recently found that the time is right to start helping others in that same situation. And I am awed as I watch her, so courageously, begin to find her voice and even share her story on a very large stage. She has also begun to be part of some after care support groups.

Yes, we all have stories to tell. And there is value and comfort and worth in every one of them, even the hard stories. Other people need to hear them. We need to ask the Lord to help us find our voice. To help release us from being mute and to find avenues to begin to speak. 

We can often be paralyzed into staying silent because of our preconceived notions of what this might look like. We think no one will hear or we don't have a stage or we don't have the courage or we aren't some huge social activist and we can't possibly make an impact on issues of the oppressed and hurting and marginalized.

But we are so wrong. Because we can sign petitions and lend our Facebook statuses and find time to volunteer and send a bit of money to help make huge changes. 

About a year ago, I heard Rebekah Lyons speak, addressing the issue that many of us have with feeling restless.  Because we aren't sure what we were made to do. We don't know what to be when we grow up.  We are silent and feel unfulfilled somehow. She expressed that we can find our calling in the intersection of where our passions and our talents collide.

If you are not sure what your voice is, then pray. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what you are passionate about, either because of how it has impacted you personally or because it just stirs something up in you that you cannot ignore. Think about where your talents, gifts, skills and natural strengths lie. Jot it all down and ask for wisdom to see how it all intersects, how it all comes together.

Indeed, Jesus has freed us from silence. He is calling us to not remain mute. He is asking us to tell our stories and to find our voice and to be part of the bigger work that he is doing in this world.

Sometimes, the crowds might be amazed. Sometimes, they may pick us apart.

But always, when we bravely say yes, even with great trepidation, God will equip us for those places that are farther than our feet could ever wander. When we are willing to say yes, even timidly, to trust without borders, then he will give us the words. He will equip us. He will free us from our silence and use us to speak loudly for that which he calls us. 

We will find our voice with our words, our actions, and our very lives.

And there, we find our callings. There we see our place in the bigger picture. And we step into the parts that we can fill, and we feel the joy of giving words to that which we are called to do.

May we all be unleashed to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.

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