Yes, I know you’ve all been desperate for another bloggage from yours truly, well I hope this is worth its wait on hold.
My Dad asked me for some information about a new bicycle seat I had bought, which was lovely and comfy for those of us who would rather not sit on the edge of a razor blade (aka a racing saddle). I sent him a text message with the link, but for some reason it didn’t show up on his phone. So he sent me a message asking for the information again. The text arrived while I was driving around Plymouth on empty roads at a gentle pace so I asked my hands free system to read it out for me. After I had listened the system asked me if I would like to dictate a response. As the roads were still clear I decided to do so. This is what it sent:
“Sorry about that. I can see a reference to it in my message to you. But perhaps your phone can’t cope with that message. I will send you an email with the details. Lots of love boobs.”
Now I ought to explain that one of my childhood nicknames was ‘Dougal’ because I liked the Magic Roundabout on TV and used to crawl around fast in circles like Dougal the dog on that show. Later that got shortened to ‘Doogz’. But the phone dictation system didn’t know ‘Doogz’ so it sent the nearest equivalent!
I wonder how often we fail to listen properly to other people, or to God, and then approximate an understanding of what we think was said? It’s a bit more nuanced that my phone…
When we ask someone how they are and they say, “Fine,” do we listen to their tone of voice, watch their body language and look into their eyes to see if they mean it or are just giving a knee-jerk response, or do we take it at face value and move on without asking how they really are?
A while ago I failed to read the body language and tone of voice and didn’t realise that when someone was telling me they were going on holiday what they really wanted was for me to show some interest and ask about their plans. Instead I replied with what I thought was a fair answer and said that I hoped they would have a lovely time. I had closed down the conversation rather than opening it up further.
And yesterday, when I was with my Spiritual Director, he asked me about my prayer life. I thought it was going quite well and I explained about the apps I use to help me (eg Lectio 365) and how I try to have a conversation with God throughout the day, especially when my thoughts are prompted about someone or something. My SD then asked me whether I spend any time just sitting in God’s presence in silence… ah… well… no. Not really. So I am resolved to try and do that more often. It may not be a long time at first, but I can build that time in, and give him chance to tell me what’s on his heart rather than listening to me all the time.
If you watch, listen to or read the news at the moment it can make for miserable reading. There’s hideous violence committed at individual, community and international levels. There’s devastating poverty that is affecting people, countries and whole regions of the world. There is hideous greed that is making a few rich at the expense of those who can least afford it. Environmental crises are breaking out across the globe with a seeming unwillingness to act from some of those who are most able to make a positive difference, preferring short term economic gain while sticking their fingers in their ears and ignoring the clamour for action. There is blatant racism, sexism and other prejudices that seem to be encouraged or at least not condemned at the highest level.
It’s not likely to lead us to a happy place is it? Even the ‘and finally’ lighthearted items on the news or the plethora of funny cat videos on the internet can’t lift the sense of gloom.
So what can we do?
Have another look at Psalm 23. You probably all know it, or have heard of it. Yes, that’s right: the Shepherd one.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Most of us don’t have a lot of experience of shepherds, especially ancient near-Eastern ones, so what can this ancient piece of poetry do for us today?
First of all, recognise that an ancient near-Eastern shepherd was responsible for protecting the whole flock and providing for them. It wasn’t simply a question of leaving them out in a field, the flock would roam the countryside. And they would follow their shepherd who would go ahead of them (not driving them from behind as in the UK), listening for his voice and trusting him because he had provided for them in the past. No sheepdogs were needed because the shepherd was trusted and known. David, who wrote this psalm, had experience of this as he had been a shepherd, and that was one of the ways in which he experienced God – someone he knew, whom he trusted, whom he was willing to follow, whose voice he knew.
Green pastures are always good places if you are a herbivore. It’s easy food and provides the nutrients that are needed. In the ancient near-East green pastures would have been at a premium, bearing in mind that it was/is a hot climate. Much of the land would be dry scrubland with not so much to eat, so if a sheep found theirself led to a green pasture it was bliss , especially if there was also a source of cool water there. If you have been in the hot Mediterranean sun you would be refreshed and feel restored at such places. When we find ourselves in green pastures or beside still, refreshing waters we should not forget to give thanks to the one who has led us there. We should find ways that our soul is restored – what works for you?
The shepherd would know the local terrain and would know which were the paths to follow. Some might be difficult but they would go to the right destination. Here ‘right paths’ doesn’t just mean those that go to the right places, however, it also refers to ‘righteousness’ or ‘faithfulness’ and means that the flock benefits from the shepherd’s faithfulness. ‘For his name’s sake’ means that God acts consistently with his character. There are many names given to God in the Old Testament and all of them reflect something of his character. Even referring to him as ‘The Lord’ as David does at the beginning of the Psalm is bigger than we imagine. The word in Hebrew is YHWH – the Hebrew word for God that was originally unpronounceable because there were no vowels but is now sometimes pronounced ‘Yahweh’. It derives from the Hebrew for ‘I am’ and reminds us of the eternal nature of God, the existence of God, the constancy of God, the self-sufficiency of God and so much more. That’s the One who’s our shepherd!
Following the shepherd does not mean that we’ll always be in green pastures and beside still waters. There are times when we go through the darkest valley (the valley of the shadow of death). We all know that to be true even though we hate to admit it. The difference for those who follow the shepherd is that they know he is with them as they travel through that dark valley. They may be frightened, worried, anxious or even terrified of what is in the shadows, but they know that the shepherd is there with them and is committed to them. You’re not alone if you don’t want to be.
The psalm abruptly changes from a pastoral metaphor to a banquet scene. There’s a celebration, a meal in our honour, and we will be vindicated in the sight of those who have opposed us. The host is generous to us and honours us. Did you notice too how the language changes from an impersonal third person (‘he’) to a personal second person (‘you’). This is not a theoretical expression of faith, it’s a personal relationship with YHWH. God’s care for us is genuine: not just a story of a shepherd but an experience of love, care, honour and justification.
And there’s an eternal dimension to this that can never be taken away from us.
Add to that what Jesus said about being the Good Shepherd and it becomes spectacular!
None of this changes the news. But it may help us look at it differently knowing that YHWH is leading us, with us, for us and we are his eternally.
I was at a Church Meeting last night (and was immensely blessed by the experience). As a frequent ‘outside observer’ of Church Meetings I have a few ‘hunches’ (not caused by uncomfortable seating):
The way a room is set out may have a correlation with the mood of the meeting. If those leading the meeting are sat behind tables at the front it may suggest that there is likely to be confrontation. If everyone is in rows facing the front it may inhibit discussion. If the room is set out with people in a circle (or a version of a circle depending on numbers and space) it might encourage people to listen to one another more because they are facing each other.
Church Meetings that describe themselves as ‘Church Business Meetings’ have a different atmosphere to those that don’t. If it’s a formal business-style meeting then the approach (with proposers and seconders and lots of voting) may lend itself to more business-style topics. I have not done any research on this but my hunch is that those that are described as ‘Church Business Meetings’ may lead with things like finance and the running of the church rather than what church is really there for. And those meetings can feel more like democratic meetings where strident majority views carry the day rather than discernment meetings where we listen to the small uncertain voice as well as the loud.
Another hunch is that where a Church Meeting is explicitly a discernment process, seeking to listen for what God is saying to the church through one another, the focus of the meeting is likely to be more about mission and serving the community. Those meetings are often characterised by the number of times the meeting prays together about issues and different ways of listening to the gathered community other than just be plenary discussion. And everyone’s comments are listened to and respected because they could be the one God is speaking through.
Last night’s meeting included an epiphany for me. Quite often in the meeting there was a request for people to ‘pray about this’. That’s brilliant. That’s how churches should operate. And we did pray during the meeting. However I wonder how many of those ‘pray about this’ issues remained with people at the end of the meeting, and how many still remember them this morning?
I was given the opportunity at the end of the meeting to feed back to the church what I had experienced (this is something I often do – with permisssion – as a visitor). I remarked on how often we had been encouraged to ‘pray about this’ and wondered whether it might be worth having someone in the meeting designated to record the points for prayer. At the end of the meeting they could remind the meeting about these things (things to thank God for as well as requests) so that the meeting could do what it had been asked to do, and then perhaps those prayer items could be circulated to the church membership for them to continue to be in prayer about them. Of the cuff I suggested that they could perhaps be the ‘Prayer Champion’ and I am not convinced about the name, but I am warming up to the concept.
If you’re in a church that holds meetings, what are they like?
I have a confession to make. I love fountain pens. I don’t know why but I love the combination of the concept, the feel of them, and particularly the sense of the flow of ink when writing that make up a fountain pen. I even like the sense of ancient history behind them (there are references to something that resembles a fountain pen in the 10th century, and of course quills were used many centuries before). I realise that in an electronic age (and I LOVE technology) it may seem rather archaic to enjoy fountain pens but there you go… it’s what I like.
Many years ago my wife gave me a
lovely ink pen and it lasted quite a long time until it gave up and literally
fell apart. I loved it so much that I tracked down another one online that
looked identical and I bought it as a replacement. Then, tragically, earlier
this year I dropped the replacement fountain pen while writing with it and it
landed nib-down on a hard floor. The nib bent.
What had been a joy to write with became a scratchy implement that was difficult to write with and left an inconsistent and sometimes indecipherable mark on the paper. I tried to unbend the nib with as much gentleness and skill as I have seen on the BBC TV Show ‘The Repair Shop’ but I am not a skilled craftsman and the nib remained scratchy and inconsistent. I even checked to see if the old nib would fit from the previous pen, but there was a minor but important difference that meant it wouldn’t fit and in any event it was full of dry ink that would not budge. I then looked at whether it was possible to buy a new nib for the pen and was alarmed to see how expensive this would be. The problem was that these pens had gone out of production many years back. The replacement I had bought was remaining stock, not new stock, and to buy a replacement nib required a specialist shop and for specialist shop read ‘expensive shop’. I was quite upset.
However my birthday was coming up and I thought about asking for a replacement nib for my birthday. But it felt wrong to ask someone to spend as much on a new nib as the pen had cost in the first place. I decided to ask for a new fountain pen and settled on a different one that I liked the look of. I went into a pen shop and ‘tried it on’ and it felt really good in my hand. So that’s what I asked for, and that’s what my wife gave me for my birthday. I am delighted with it, it writes beautifully (even if my handwriting is a bit ropey because of how much I type now) and my love of fountain pens continues.
Why this tale of ink pens? Well,
I was looking at my new pen on my desk a little earlier and was reminded of
Psalm 45:1 “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite
my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skilful writer.” It’s part of
a love song composed for a wedding that praises the bride and groom, but
confirms that God’s hand has been on the couple. It’s a lovely image – that our
spoken words are written by a dextrous wordsmith – God’s Spirit inspiring our
thoughts and speech. This is true for us when we preach and teach, when we seek
to speak God’s words to people, and should be true of us all day long. The
problem is that while the writer always remains skilled, sometimes the pen is
scratchy and almost illegible. It can happen to any of us.
It happens when
we don’t take care of our souls, perhaps when we have been dropped on the hard
floor of self-reliance instead of relying on God’s Spirit. Or it can happen
when we become spiritually dried up rather than allowing the Spirit of Jesus to
flow within us and through us. And we can even make the mistake of failing to
ask the Master Craftsman to restore us when that happens. Miraculously the
beautiful message can still get through even when we are scratchy or the
reservoir has run dry, but that is more down to the skill of the author than
If you’re aware that you are a bit scratchy why not put yourself in for a service? Take a retreat, find a Spiritual Director, be accountable to someone else and allow these people to help you. Open yourself afresh to God’s Spirit in whatever way you find it easiest to be restored and renewed so that once again the author’s wonderful words flow well.
The TV show Catchphrase is based on cryptic visual clues to well known words and phrases. It has its own catchphrase – “Say what you see.” But outside of TV shows politeness and manners seem to prevent us from being quite so forward. Unless you are a child.
I was visiting a couple in the evening recently to discuss their call to Baptist Ministry. When I arrived Dad was upstairs settling the two children into bed. I was shown into the lounge by Mum. While we waited for Dad to finish we heard small footsteps on the stairs and their seven-year-old son appeared in the doorway, informing us that his Dad had given him permission to come downstairs to see who had arrived. He took one look at me and said:
“I didn’t know you were bald!”
I was rather surprised – not as his observational skills but at his forwardness. I struggled to think of a good reply. The best I came up with was:
“I didn’t know you had hair.”
The instant reply came:
“I didn’t know you had ears!”
If I am honest I didn’t quite hear him so I just laughed. (If I had heard I would probably have explained that if I didn’t have ears my glasses would fall off.) After this Mum shooed him off to bed, presumably before he could make any other statements.
I found it hilarious that the young boy was so unafraid to say what was on his mind. He had none of the grown-up filters that we often apply (and which internet trolls seem unable to access) and simply said what he was thinking.
It reminded me this week of the moment when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. There was a mahoosive celebration going on that annoyed the religious leaders who were busy trying to plot Jesus’ downfall. Matthew tells us that when Jesus got to the Temple (the centre of Jewish worship in his day) he cleared out the courtyard that had been turned into a marketplace and healed people. There were some children there and they were shouting what they had heard the crowd chanting earlier: “Hosanna to the Son of David.”*
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “Have you never read: ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)
The children were unafraid, perhaps unaware of hoiw inflammatory they were being. They were simply joining in. One of the things that I regret deeply is how in churches (and society) we still seem to want to shush children’s voices and don’t encourage them to speak their mind. Because when they do, sometimes we hear God speaking to us.
And I reckon God would much rather we spoke our mind than pretended with him. Say what you see.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
*This was not only a statement of praise, it was a revolutionary statement suggesting that Jesus was the one who was going to sort things out for God’s people.
For those leading services on Remembrance Sunday it can be one of the most fraught days of the year. It is not necessarily because of the content but because most services start before or at 11am on the Sunday and we have to incorporate the 2 minutes’ silence at the right time. This requires a level of timing, anticipation, clock-watching and ‘seat of the pants’ ministering that can raise the blood pressure of even the most relaxed of Revs.
This year I was ministering at one of the churches I serve as a Regional Minister. Their service starts at 10am. The first part of the service was led by church members (really thoughtfully and sensitively) and then I stood up to preach. Normally it’s only those listening to me who have an eye on the clock, but this time I was keeping an eye on the time too. I was amused that during the sermon, just as I was reading Psalm 23, the town parade went past the outside of the church with a band playing at the head of the procession. The band stopped playing just as I finished reading the Psalm. I told the church that it was appropriate as the psalms were originally sung to music!
The sermon finished at about 10.45.
That would not normally be a problem with a view to having 2 minutes of silence at 11.00.
But the church also also wanted to share Communion* after the sermon and I wasn’t sure whether we would have time. We also had a song to sing before Communion. I invited people to sing and afterwards I led the church into sharing the bread and wine. The sermon had been on Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life” and I made a link with that and that he invited his followers to share bread and wine “In remembrance of me”. I broke the bread and shared it with those who were serving and they took it out to the congregation at about 10.50. It’s a large congregation which meant that serving the bread took a while and we finished that at 10.57.
Are you feeling the pressure too?
I knew that we would not be able to serve the wine in 3 minutes so I took the decision to have the 2 minutes’ silence in the middle of Communion. So I introduced what we were going to do and at 11.00 we stood in silence for 2 minutes, after which I read the familiar ‘they shall not grow old’ words and prayed. We then sat and continued with Communion as the wine was served in small cups to each person and we drank together and once again reflected on Jesus who died for us.
After the service lots of people said how much they had appreciated that we did things that way, and few seem to have realised that it was not by my design. And I was blessed by the experience too – I reflected on the act of Remembrance in the light of Communion and Jesus saying, “Greater love has no-one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends.” I reflected on Communion in the light of the act of Remembrance and what it means – more than just keeping a memory alive. The unplanned order of things was very poignant and significant to me.
Reflecting on it all now, a couple of days afterwards, I realise that God often does that… he takes our plans and if they don’t turn out the way we intended he finds a way of speaking in and through the ensuing disruption. So for some of Jesus’ friends who went on a fishing expedition that proved fruitless he turned it into an encounter with him that they would remember for the rest of their lives (John 21). And, if I am honest, that’s so often what inspires me to write bloggages – unexpected moments turn into moments when God speaks to me. Maybe it’s because in those moments I realise that I am not in control and need to reconnect with the One who simply is.
I suppose the question is whether, in the disruption, we try to listen to what God might be saying or whether we are too busy trying to resolve things ourselves.
Be blessed, be a blessing
*Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, Bread and Wine – depending on your tradition
It used to be ‘three rings’. ‘Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring’.
In the dim and distant past, before mobile phones were a commonplace part of our experience, when people were travelling somewhere and needed to let someone else know that they had arrived safely they would give ‘three rings’. They would dial (probably actually on a rotary dial, young people) the number, let it ring three times and then ring off.
It meant that the call didn’t cost anything, no lengthy phone conversation was needed, and the person at the other end would know that their friend / loved one had arrived safely at their destination.
There were a few problems. One was that sometimes, when you listened at the other end, it would start with a ‘half ring’ – ‘ring’ before going into full ‘ring ring’ rings. Did that first half ring count as a proper ring? If it did, then you should hang up after another two rings, but would the person at the other end know that it counted? If you went for another ‘ring ring’ so there were three of them, the person at the other end might think it was four rings so it wasn’t you and pick up the phone, negating the reason for doing three rings.
And, when you think about it, it was technically six rings (or five), not three.
And of course there were also the times when the person you were ringing forgot to wait for three rings and picked up the phone anyway.
A seemingly simple process was fraught with complexity!
Today all we have to do is send a text message to another mobile phone, or an instant message on social media.
But we still have to remember to send a message. The technology may be better but, a bit like with my satnav (see Monday) the weakest part is the human part.
Prayer is an instantaneous and low-cost way of communicating with God. You don’t need special words, you don’t need to be in a special place, you don’t even need to dial. All you have to do is remember to pray. God’s there, listening and waiting. However the weakest part is still the human part isn’t it?
My satnav is an invaluable resource. Because it gives me live traffic updates it can navigate me around jams and queues. It has saved me hours of frustrated sitting in the car going nowhere.
But in the last few days it has irritated me. The first occasion was when it alerted me to a lengthy queue ahead and offered me a route that would be longer in distance but shorter in time. You may be wondering what’s wrong with that.
It offered me the new route just as I went past the exit it was recommending and the queue started just around the corner. Why didn’t it tell me earlier?
The second was this morning when as I was happily going along a route I use regularly I turned off onto an exit only to find myself joining a lengthy queue on the slip road and beyond. Why didn’t it warn me? Was it sulking because I was unhappy with it at the weekend?
As I reflect on both situations I think there’s a common problem. A software problem.
You see I think, on reflection, that in the first case the satnav probably did offer me an alternative route sooner than I realised but because I was wearing sunglasses I couldn’t see it clearly. In the second situation I did hear the satnav say something but assumed it was telling me to turn off rather than keep going. I wasn’t listening properly because I was confident in my own ability.
I make the same mistakes with God. Sometimes I ignore him or I am distracted by other things or I am overconfident in my own ability. And then I wonder why he didn’t say anything.
Hmm. Note to self: pay more attention to God and my satnav.
This next few days are very busy and my opportunities to inflict bloggages on you will be limited, so this will have to do for a while. Let me explain why…
Today I am planning to enjoy a day off. I am planning to go sailing with Sally (model yacht sailing) and this evening I will be with my friends at Mid Essex Magical Society.
Tomorrow I am spending the day in Newport Pagnell in a meeting that will be making recommendations about the level of support that can be given to churches that cannot afford a Minister on their own. And in the evening I will be at a leaders’ meeting for one of the 60 churches I serve.
On Thursday I will be at Spurgeon’s College Conference. It’s the annual get together for students (former and current) who have trained at the College and this year the incoming President is Juliet Kilpin who I believe is one of the prophets of our day – speaking out for those whom society (and churches) often ignore.
Friday will be spent catching up on emails that will have flooded in over the next 3 days and in preparation for our EBA Annual Assembly which will be taking place in Felixstowe over the weekend. I hope too to spend some time reading and reflecting before travelling to Felixstowe.
Saturday is the main day of the Assembly and there will be lots of opportunities for conversations with people, seminars to attend where I can learn, meetings to enable through the medium of PowerPoint, magic to perform in the afternoon free space, all age worship to enjoy, and an England football match to enjoy or endure.
Sunday will conclude the Assembly in the morning with a service, and then it’s a drive across the country to collect our daughter from University.
Then on Monday it’s some more meetings and in the evening I have my interview at the Magic Circle – part of the application process for me joining the prestigious organisation.
But just because I am not expecting many opportunities to write bloggages, it does not mean that I won’t be looking out for what God is saying to me. I fully expect to encounter him in all of the scheduled activities I have mentioned, and also in the gaps in between. In fact it’s often in the gaps that I find God speaks more obviously.
For example, he’s speaking through the dawn chorus at the moment as I type – reminding me that Jesus said that if God cares for a sparrow, how much more does he care for me? He speaks through the calmness and gentleness of quiet moments, encouraging me to relax in him. He speaks through a song on the radio as I am driving. He speaks through an unexpected encounter with someone while I am out in the street. He’s always speaking: the question is whether I am listening.
I am going to post a second bloggage today that reflects on sailing my boat, which I hope will expand on this thought. In the meantime be blessed and be a blessing.
One of my guilty pleasures is supporting Ipswich Town Football Club. It’s good for humility and helps me learn to cope with disappointment. A couple of times a year I like to go to watch them at their home ground, and I like getting there early to watch the preparations for the match – watching the teams ‘warm up’ (if I had warmed up as vigorously as that before a match when I used to play I would have been worn out before we started); seeing the grounds staff set up sprinklers (secretly hoping to squirt one of the opposition players as they warm up – it happened once) and then sort out any rogue divots before the match starts; seeing the interaction between the Ipswich Town mascots (Bluey and Crazee (usually messing around too)) and the crowd; and generally soaking up the atmosphere.
When you arrive early there are not many people in the stadium. If I tried shouting a football chant or cheering nobody outside the ground would hear me – very few people in the stadium would hear me, and those who did might move away a bit. But slowly the ground fills up and the noise level rises. Then, during the match, when the crowd chants together or cheers people a long way away from the ground will hear them. Indeed I have been told that when there were Sunday lunchtime matches a nearby church had to make sure they finished their services before the match started otherwise they would be drowned out by the crowd.
I was reminded of that this morning when I got an email. This is what it said:
Dear Nick Lear,
Parliament is going to debate the petition you signed – “Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA.”.
Once the debate has happened, we’ll email you a video and transcript.
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament
On my own my voice would not have been heard. But when lots of people collectively gather together and raise their voice it can be heard and can make a difference. I think it’s part of what we call ‘democracy’. But if lots of small voices hadn’t spoken up nothing would have happened.
(I also wrote to my MP about the Refugee Crisis in Calais and got a letter back on official Houses of Parliament headed paper – but sadly it was a stock reply that didn’t answer any of the points I made. Still, at least my voice was raised and perhaps if lots of voices speak together someone might listen).
It’s funny how many Baptist churches think that they are democracies because they vote in Church Meetings. People think that it’s all about a majority of people getting their way. Yes, we believe that God speaks through a Church Meeting. Yes, one of the mechanisms for seeking to discern God’s voice is through voting. But it’s not a democracy because God doesn’t always speak through a majority. Part of the art of leading a church is to listen for God in the small voices as well as the loud ones. We also have to listen to him speaking through the unexpected, unanticipated person. We have to listen for him in the still small voice. And when we sense him speaking, it makes sense for us to stop and listen because he seems to enjoy speaking through the small, marginalised, apparently insignificant…
Consider Samuel hearing God speak when he was a small boy; Elijah in the cave sensing God in a gentle whisper rather than an earthquake, storm or wildfire; Mary the pregnant teenager; and of course the carpenter’s son from the back of beyond.
Your small voice can make a difference, and it might be that God is speaking through you. He might want you to join your small voice with others. So don’t be silent. And when lots of small voices join together sometimes the powerful stop and listen (which is a lesson to learn both if you are a small voice or if you are powerful).