I’m a reluctant conservative. I have stayed safely inside the church walls, teaching the Bible, making disciples and caring for people. That’s enough, right? I have, however, steered clear of all things political.
That has been changing. Recently, we had my friend, Scott Scharpen, speak to our church about God’s heart for the unborn—thinking biblically about abortion.
As I prayed about this event, I found myself asking God to help us “find our voice” on the issues we face in our society today. Find our voice. In the case of abortion, we must find our voice for the unborn. Proverbs 31 puts this poignantly: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Prov. 31:8).
Find our voice. We must find our voice and speak up. Those three words would not leave me alone. Find our voice.
It’s another way of saying we must speak up in the places where God has given us influence. To influence people, events and trends for him—with him—and reveal his heart and his ways. In matters large and small. In the here and now, and with an eye on the future.
When we find our voice, things start happening.
- In 1789, William Wilberforce found his voice and eventually ridded the British Isles of slavery.
- Martin Luther King found his voice and squarely addressed the injustice and prejudice in our country, and mobilized people for peaceful protest.
- Mothers who have lost their kids in drunk-driving accidents banded together in their pain, found their voice and formed Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
- Scott Scharpen found his voice for the unborn and opened a mobile ultrasound clinic to talk with pregnant women who are considering abortion, showing them the life inside them and giving them hope and viable alternatives to abortion.
- A tiny, shy, Albanian nun’s heart broke and awakened to the poor in Calcutta, India, and Mother Teresa found her voice and the world joined her.
- Doug McAllister, a former pastor, found his voice, ran for Murrieta, California, city council, won a seat and changed the long-corrupted political dynamics there.
- When parents find their voices for their children, they start talking to them about Jesus, his Word and the stories of how he changed their lives. They set and keep boundaries.
You may be thinking, “Look, I’m a nobody,” or, “I’m a student, or a truck driver, or a homemaker.” That’s your sphere, but not your only sphere. There is your marriage, your children, your parents and relatives. There’s your neighborhood, your friend group and school. It works outward from there.
God is challenging us, calling us to find our voice.
The Bible is full of stories of people finding their voices. Moses overcame fear and inadequacy to find his. Samuel called out a king in his sin. Esther spoke up and saved her people from annihilation. An outcast Samaritan woman became the first evangelist.
Nehemiah was an exiled Jewish man who served as the cupbearer to Persian king Artaxerxes, in what is modern-day Iran. A cupbearer was the king’s confidante who tasted food and drink before the king to keep him from being poisoned—a job OSHA would quickly outlaw! The story starts with a report he receives from back home in Jerusalem.
“Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Neh. 1:1–4)
The news cuts Nehemiah like a knife. He is alarmed with God’s alarm. He weeps and mourns for days. It drives him to fast and to pray.
Finding your voice starts with finding God’s heart.
There is an awakening. An urgency. A concern. Something is not as it should be and must be changed to set things right. Your heart is pricked, disturbed, alarmed. Awakened.
Parents, this is where it all starts with our kids. We see the tide of culture—the distortions, the craziness, the lack of boundaries. Anything goes. Nothing is enough. This should alarm us!
God used Scott Scharpen to awaken me (and the church where I serve) to the injustice of abortion, and to respond in ways specific to where we live and the people we know. God is compelling us to get involved, join the discussion and find our voice.
The main issue that keeps us on the sideline is apathy.
We simply do not care. The apathy of good people lets the culture (and the Evil One) dictate what will happen. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
We are too busy, too numbed-out, too occupied with our own small world to care. Apathy is perhaps the greatest enemy of God’s people today. We must be awakened from our sleeping by God and by others who are finding their voice, calling us out. We must have a “heart awakening.”
My wife and I had plenty of chances to be awakened as we were raising our children. Two of them went sideways for a time, and this drove us to our knees. It broke our hearts. Many nights we cried ourselves to sleep, desperately praying. We would not give up being “parents,” in favor of the easier “best friends.” We had to speak up, pray our hearts out, and call out bad behavior, lies and sin. Hold the line. In these ways, we found our voices, and eventually our children returned to Jesus and to us.
Finding your voice will mean finding God’s heart.
This starts by asking God to awaken us to what he cares about. Here’s a start: “Jesus, awaken my heart to what you care about and who you care about. Do not leave me in my apathy. I open my heart to you.” Then, get ready!
Nehemiah’s heart was awakened and broken, which drove him to pray, which is the second phase of finding our voice. Finding our voice in prayer to God is the beginning of change. Listen to Nehemiah’s prayer:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses … Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.” (Neh. 1:5–7, 11)
He is torn up over his people’s condition, so he prays and fasts. He found his voice with God. When we call out, God answers. When something needs changing, the incessant biblical answer is: Ask God. Pray. God has chosen to operate in partnership with us through prayer. John Wesley said that “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” It matters that much!