It is a terrible thing when fear makes you lose your voice. But it happened to Gracie.
Gracie is our beloved indoor pet, a rescued Parson’s Jack Russell Terrier, who was found wandering on the streets of Memphis by the Good Dog Rescue League about four years ago.
When we adopted her, she was barely alive. Shivering in a cage, we passed over frisky puppies to choose her, drawn to… what? Likely 12 years old by then —no one knows for sure — she had lost half her body weight, down to 5 1/2 pounds. The fur on her legs was absent due to severe malnutrition. Her ears had scars from being in dog fights. Her front teeth were missing, likely from gnawing her way out of captivity. The vet who examined her for us commented, “What are you doing - opening a hospice?”
But she survived and over time she began to thrive. Gracie, as we named her, was a gift intended for me, but as my caring wife held her in her lap, prayed over her, hand fed her, and loved on her those first few weeks, Gracie bonded with her, not with me. Perhaps it had been a man who had mistreated her – we’ll never know. She likes me well enough now, but for my wife, she does an exuberant “happy dance” when Lana arrives home!
But the first year we had her in our home, she never barked … not even once. If she needed to go outside, she would make no sound; just silently stand at our feet and stare up; giving only nonverbal clues. But after a whole year passed … she barked!
Surprised, we celebrated that first bark with praise. No scolding, no angry words. Thus Gracie got her voice back. Now when I put on my shoes on in the morning, she barks to anticipate a walk on her leash. To be let out, she barks. To welcome Lana home, she barks. And her voice sounds good to our ears. We know how long it took. We know where she came from even though we can only imagine what caused her long silence
Suffering, helplessness and fear can make humans lose their voice, too. Silent suffering in the face of injustice or cruelty is not noble — it is pitiful. You have a voice. You have rights. ABC’s slogan, “Your Voice, Your Vote” applies here. Make a difference by speaking up for yourself and for others. The biblical character named Job, while in the midst of his trials, finally said, “I will not restrain my voice – I will lift up my voice and cry aloud!” God heard him, delivered him, and vindicated him.
How delighted our Heavenly Father must feel when He hears us lift up our voice in prayer, perhaps for the very first time. Instead of cowering in fear, instead of cringing, we can cry out to God. We can vent our honest frustration, our deepest needs, our desperate hopes, our heartfelt emotions … and He will hear us!
It’s time you shook off whatever muzzles you. End your self-imposed silence. Call aloud on the Lord with your whole heart. Use your authentic voice. He will welcome the sound!
Ron Wood is pastor of Trinity Assembly of God, on Chandler Rd at State Blvd in Meridian. Website: www.trinitymeridian.com. Phone: 601-483-8189.