Living Echoes

Lord Speak to Me is a hymn with an important message for each believer.

Stand before a rocky cliff, and shout. Chances are, if conditions are right, your voice will bounce back to you again. We call that an echo. As one poet puts it, "My words had gone forever, / They left no trace or track. / But the hills nearby caught up the cry / And sent the echo back."

There are echoes in the realm of light, as well. As any grade school child knows, the moon itself gives no light. What we see is the light of the sun, reflected back from the surface of the moon. Can you imagine a cold, rocky landscape trying to shine on its own? Or speak on its own? It has no power to do so. It works fine as a reflector, but that is all.

In a similar way, human beings are made to be reflectors of God and His truth. All around us are those in deep spiritual need. What can we do for them? Nothing, on our own. They need a touch from God. They need Him. But we can have a part in bringing the two together. We can be His reflectors. His "living echoes." As Jesus said to His followers one day, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). And later Paul was able to say, "I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you" (I Cor. 11:23). We can only pass on what we have received.

In 1872, Frances Ridley Havergal wrote a hymn-poem she entitled, "A Worker's Prayer." We know it by the opening words, "Lord, Speak to Me." It is the kind of prayer that should rise regularly from the heart of each servant of Christ. It says, "Lord, speak to me that I may speak in living echoes of Thy tone; / As Thou hast sought, so let me seek / Thy erring children, lost and lone." And a later stanza adds, "O teach me, Lord, that I may teach..."

The poem has seven lovely verses, but many hymn books use only four of them. Here is one that is sometimes omitted: "O lead me, Lord, that I may lead the wand'ring and the wav'ring feet; / O feed me, Lord, that I may feed the hung'ring ones with manna sweet." Those are two more echoes we can provide. If we are to lead others, it must be as God leads us. If we are to feed them with spiritual manna, it must come from Him.

In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, the people of Israel had wandered far from God. Judgment was about to fall. And one of the Lord's most scathing condemnations was leveled against certain prophets in Israel. Here is why. God says, "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied" (Jer. 23:21).

They spoke for themselves. Or they spoke perhaps for others who had paid and commissioned them. But they did not speak for God. And the sad thing is the whole nation suffered as a result. God says, "If they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them [the people] from their evil way" (vs. 22).

What a responsibility! It is one Isaiah also recognized. If he was to have a message for those in need, it would have to come from the Lord. He says, "The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary" (Isa. 50:4).

So, are we ready to feed the spiritually hungry today? Are we ready to lead the lost to safety? The realistic answer is, "No--apart from a continuing infusion of God's grace. We need to open the Word of God first for ourselves, in order to hear His voice, praying, "Lord, speak to me that I may speak."