Every step was an effort, every attempt to grasp the smallest object a struggle and every desire to form words a desperate cry. The simplest movements and conversation of the able-bodied are monumental tasks for those born with cerebral palsy. One such person graced my path some time ago and I will never forget him.
I greeted him as he came into a store where I had worked and asked if I might help with something. Through undiscernable words and frustrated longing to be understood, he tried with everything in him to communicate what he was looking for. I silently asked God to help us. I’ll never be able to explain the next few moments and I may never experience them again, but in the garble of sound, key words became distinctly recognizable to my ears and his intentions became increasingly clear. He had set out to find a specific gift for his mother’s 85th birthday.
I realized he was looking for a product offered by a store down the street and gave him directions. Instead, he chose to stay. Someone heard him. Someone listened beyond the sounds of his voice and into his heart and he was pleased. So, together, we took time considering what she might like and found something special for his precious mom.
I am convinced that God orchestrated our appointment. To be sure, I had no special ability to discern his words and he had no common ability to express them. But God did, and that was enough for both of us.
Our words are never indiscernible in the ears of the Almighty. Psalm 139 makes that clear. “O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” (NIV) That is a statement of unparalleled intimacy.
We are known by our Heavenly Father and understood even when words fail to express our hearts; for there is a language of the soul and the Holy Spirit of God hears it. Aren’t you glad? Perhaps you live with a speech impediment or any number of conditions that leave you feeling like no one hears you, or sees you, or cares. Friend, the most important One does and His Word assures us that He hears even when we have no voice.
At the close of the sale, another challenge awaited my friend as he struggled to sign his name on the credit card receipt. He confessed his embarrassment, but I assured him there was no cause and no hurry. When he was done, I thanked him for more than the purchase. I thanked him for his example of courage and his heart and asked God to bless him. He smiled warmly, thanked me and turned to leave.
He headed out the door and offered parting words that once again became undiscernable. But it was OK. God heard him clearly.