Father's Day will be coming up soon and with it a flood of memories for many of us. This is from July 2, 2012.
As far as I know, Kathy Neal and Steve Awtrey don't know each other but that doesn't mean I see no connection between the two. They both went to Harding University in different time frames but that's not the link I'm interested in. Both work for Christian institutions: Kathy is on staff at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee while Steve is the head of Christian Family Services (CFS) in St. Louis but that's not what I'm referring to, either. You see, they are both have messages on my answering machine that I have yet to erase and it's past the normal time-frame for deletion. They called for different reasons. I made a small donation to Freed-Hardeman and Kathy, seeing my name on the donors' list, called to say thank you from the staff. Steve rang my number for a seemingly odd purpose; he called to listen to the recorded message on my machine....and it's not me.
I've mentioned before that at Christmas shortly before our father's death, we bought him what he wanted, a new phone. We found a nice one at Best Buy and dad recorded a greeting. The voice was old and frail but still cheerful. When Dad died, I needed a phone and inherited his final Christmas present but I could not bear to erase his voice and I still can't. Dad's voice caught Kathy off guard; you can tell, she was really taken aback. You see, Kathy had been one of my father's college students and he also was her preacher during her first two years of college. Not only that, her husband, Dale, was my high school basketball coach, and outside of my parents, the biggest influence in my life. Kathy told me that hearing Dad's voice was wonderful and a gift to me. I had spoken to Steve on the phone the day before his call and told him about my answering machine. He left a message saying he just wanted to call and hear my dad's voice. Dad and Steve had been co-workers at CFS and had known each other for years. Additionally, my parents had purchased a piece of land with Steve's aunt and uncle and built houses together in St. Louis. (My mom and Steve's aunt had been classmates at Harding in the mid 1940's.) Steve may be the only person to ever call me and hope I wouldn't answer!
Voices can bring such varied responses to our ears and minds and hearts. Some bring fear and some bring joy. Some make us cringe and some make us smile. Those voices don't leave us as we get older. I listened to my dad teach a Bible lesson last week on CD, recorded ten years before his stroke. He was a masterful speaker with terrific diction and a gift for story telling. The voice of my father on the phone was weak and frail but it was my dad and that's what took Kathy and Steve back to another time. I think it's interesting that when Jesus spoke about sheep and their shepherd, He didn't mention they recognized his face. Look at John 10, verses 4 and 5:
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.
A shepherd's voice inspires confidence and trust in his sheep. My dad's voice did the same for many he taught and loved and mentored. Judging from Kathy and Steve, I think it still does today. We miss you, Dad.
Applicable quote of the day:
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