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  • Wayne Chasney

The Voice of God

The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. (Psalm 29:4)

My dad had one of those voices that carried. It carried through the house, across the park, and throughout a church sanctuary. When he would preach, he refused to use a microphone. If there happened to be one attached to the pulpit, he would either turn it off or push it out of the way. “I don’t need a microphone,” he would say. And true to his word, he did not.

But he wasn’t someone who would yell. No matter what my siblings and I did, I rarely remember him using the full effect of his voice to discipline us. To call us back to the house when we were wandering the back forty, yes. To chew us out for leaving his tools in the rain after fixing our bikes, no.

Sometimes I wish he yelled. That stern-yet-softer voice that said, “You’ve disappointed me” was much worse. That was his powerful voice. We sure didn’t leave his tools out in the rain after that.

We read Psalm 29 and over and over it says the voice of God is powerful. Psalm 29 says the voice of the LORD “breaks the cedars of Lebanon” and “flashes forth flames of fire” and “shakes the wilderness.” We hear these words, and we may think of God yelling and shouting and making full use of God’s “outside” voice.

I wonder, though. I wonder if the power of God’s voice isn’t more subtle than that. I wonder if the power of God’s voice isn’t found in God’s wisdom, and God’s compassion, and God’s forgiveness. Don’t such things also have the power to break cedars and shake the wilderness?

Perhaps we need to set aside our notions that God’s powerful voice is measured only in decibels and train ourselves to listen in other ways. Perhaps the power of God’s voice is found in the quiet of nature, or the voice of the suffering, or the teachings of the truly wise. Perhaps we need to think of power altogether in new ways. We give too much credence to the loudest voices. Perhaps someday it will be the quiet ones, (the meek perhaps?) who shall shake the world. First, may we listen carefully for God’s powerful voice.

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