Other Writings

The sound God’s voice makes

From Frederick Buechner’s sermon “Message in the Stars”


Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “Message in the Stars”

I once heard a Lutheran preacher say that unless we need Jesus, desperately need him, we can’t have him.

Maybe God doesn’t clothe us when we think we are already clothed; or maybe he does, but we don’t know it until we realize we have no clothes of our own.

Maybe God doesn’t speak to us until we realize we are speechless; or maybe he does, but we can’t hear through the nonsense of our own words.

Maybe, because we crucified him and continue to most days, the surest place to meet him is at the crux of our need; maybe there, only there, can we hear what we truly long for – that God is ours and we are his.

Yes, if we can’t hear him anywhere else, we are sure to hear his voice there, at our deepest need – if we’re willing.



2 replies on “The sound God’s voice makes”

Thanks for sharing this. Somewhat related is an excerpt of one of my favorite books, Jayber Crow by Wendell Barry:

For a while again I couldn’t pray. I didn’t dare to. In the most secret place of my soul I wanted to beg the Lord to reveal himself in power. I wanted to tell him that it was time for his coming. If there was anything at all to what he had promised, why didn’t he come in glory with angels and lay his hands on the hurt children and awaken the dead soldiers and restore the burned villages and the blasted and poisoned land? Why didn’t he cow our arrogance?…

But thinking such things was as dangerous as praying them. I knew who had thought such thoughts before: “Let Christ the king of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Where in my own arrogance was I going to hide?

Where did I get my knack for being a fool? If I could advise God, why didn’t I just advise him (like our great preachers and politicians) to be on our side and give us victory? I had to turn around and wade out of the mire myself.

Christ did not descend from the cross except into the grave. And why not otherwise? Wouldn’t it have put fine comical expressions on the faces of the scribes and the chief priests and the soldiers if at that moment he had come down in power and glory? Why didn’t he do it? Why hasn’t he done it at any one of a thousand good times between then and now?

I knew the answer. I knew it a long time before I could admit it, for all the suffering of the world is in it. He didn’t, he hasn’t, because from the moment he did, he would be the absolute tyrant of the world and we would be his slaves. Even those who hated him and hated one another and hated their own souls would have to believe in him then. From that moment the possibility that we might be bound to him and he to us and us to one another by love forever would be ended.

And so, I thought, he must forebear to reveal his power and glory by presenting himself as himself, and must be present only in the ordinary miracle of the existence of his creatures. Those who wish to see him must see him in the poor, the hungry, the hurt, the wordless creatures, the groaning and travailing beautiful world.

from Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry

Liked by 1 person

Hi Robert,

Thanks very much for sharing this from Wendell Berry. I’ve read and enjoyed some of his poetry, but had never heard of Jayber Crow before. I’ll have to check it out.

So glad to have you as a blogging friend! Grace and peace to you…



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