Listen to the Sound

I am terrible at taking pictures.  Now, I don’t mean that that my pictures turn out poorly, but simply, I just forget to take pictures— period.  I don’t know if it’s because of my visual impairment, but I think that might be part of it; my memories aren’t triggered by photos, but I do remember the sounds and smells that accompanied many of the most monumental events in my life. 

I guess I’m in good company.  I heard recently that a survey had been conducted on emotional triggers and memory, and it was found that people are able to tap into their emotions best through the use of sound.  For a long time, I thought vision and what is seen makes a lasting impression, but in fact, sounds make the greatest impression of all. 

Many people can relate the most memorable sound they ever heard.  Mothers talk about hearing their child cry for the first time.  Some people recall the voice of a loved one that has now passed on and wish they could hear that voice again.  Even Forrest Gump, in the movie of the same name, recounts when he first heard Jenny’s voice.  He says, “I do remember when I heard the sweetest voice in the wide world.”  And then there is the refrain of a favorite song or the sounds of nature.  Certain sounds trigger certain emotions, and our memories are recalled in one single instant. 

For a girl who largely relies on her sense of hearing, I can recall many sounds that trigger emotion for me.  I hear the sound of a tractor, and I think of both of my grandfathers and their love for machinery and the acres of farmland stretched out around the area where I grew up.  I hear my father singing a silly little song, and I smile because I realize he is probably feeling contented and free of stress.  I hear a friend’s laughter, and I realize that all is well and God has everything in His hands.  The rain gently taps against my living room window panes, and my mind and heart can’t help but be driven into creativity.  And then my favorite sound of all— at least recently— is the incredible sound of voices lifted up in praise to Him. 

I’ve talked about this before— the fact that I simply can’t get enough of hearing people sing along with me as I lead praise and worship.  It means that I am not performing but instead joining in with others to bring Him honor and glory.  I couldn’t create a sound like that on my own; it takes hundreds of voices to achieve that effect, and even though FRC is a small congregation, when we get singing, it is simply incredible to be a part of such a worshipful offering. 

Thinking about praise and worship led me to contemplate the lyrics of a familiar hymn recently.  Most people can readily quote the lyrics of “Amazing Grace,” and I am certainly able to do just that.  But have you ever stopped to truly contemplate the lines of the first verse?  “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound—… I once was lost but now am found.”  When I truly thought about it, I was led to wonder: is it grace that makes the sound here?  What does grace sound like? 

In past posts, I’ve talked about hearing God’s still, small voice.  It isn’t audible but more like a subtle stirring or inner realization.  He doesn’t speak loudly to make His presence known, but even so, His voice is heard for those who are listening.  I think the lyric for Building 429’s song “Listen to the Sound” gives this idea some consideration.      

A lyric in the second verse proclaims: “Sometimes it takes a silence to finally hear His plan.”  Maybe this is what it means for grace to make a sweet sound.  Recently, I have been studying the Psalms, and I have found this to be true over and over again in these passages of Scripture.  Often, the psalmist cried out to God for deliverance and understanding, but it seemed as if God were distant or not listening at all.  But in fact, God had never turned His back on the psalmists; in fact, He never forsakes those who love Him. 

I don’t know what you’re going through now, but maybe it’s a time when God seems to be far away.  You may feel as if He has left you to struggle on your own, but maybe He is using this time of silence to speak truth and wisdom into your life.  Perhaps you will learn something from this time in the depths.  I know I have experienced times such as these in my life. 

It took nearly eighteen months for me to recover good health after struggling through an illness.  The whole time, I had pleaded with God to take away my pain and symptoms, but He remained silent.  In many ways, I felt like He had deserted me and wasn’t listening to my cries for help.

But when I finally set aside my own stubborn pride and ambitions, I basked in the peaceful silence that only He could bring into my life.  He had delivered me— not in the way I had expected— but in His own perfect time.  I pray that He will work in your life so you can “listen to the sound” of His almighty grace and mercy.

Here is a link to Building 429’s song “Listen to the Sound:”


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