When I was a child, love sounded a lot like my mom's voice reading to my siblings and I. It sounded like her singing to us on long car rides. It sounded like her whispering, "SHHH...." in my ears as she rocked me back and forth in the aftermath of nightmares that woke me up.
It also sounded like my dad laughing as us kids wrestled with him in the evenings or when he instructed us on how to ride a bike or ice skate.
It sounded like my grandmother's voice calling us to tell us dinner, asking if we wanted hot lemonade to sooth a sore throat, and telling us stories about hers and my mom's childhoods.
When I started school, the sound of love included teachers' kind voices, affirming words about completed work, or patient explanations of difficult math problems. It included band director's voice cajoling me as I played a hard run on my oboe as one by one the other students gave up, leaving me to play alone. "I didn't stop you!" he said as he grinned from ear to ear. It included the sound of the teacher's voice who knew my mom was really sick, encouraging me to talk to his wife who was the school nurse.
The sound of love was the sound of my friends voices as we laughed, as we sang together in talent shows, as we talked late into the night on sleep overs, as we confessed our struggles, confronted one another during arguments, and cried together when we lost students in car wrecks.
I realize now, that the sound of love also included the angry words that masked my parent's fear when they realized how little food I consumed in my disordered state, believing my 100 pound body was fat.
When I started dating my husband, it was the words, "I love you" being spoken for the first time. It was the words, "I do!" being vowed before our God, family, and friends. It was the words "I am sorry!" spoken earnestly after an ugly fight. It was the sound of his foot steps running up the sidewalk because he couldn't wait to tell me he had passed his biochemistry test. It was the words, "You did amazing," spoken just after childbirth. It was my husband's stern voice reminding the boys their mom is a girl and they must wrestle with her more gently than with him. It was the sound of my husband's voice praying over his family. It was his words, "I want to do this for you. I see it as a diamond need!" It is the sound of his voice singing in church beside me and always encouraging me to go even during the rough times.
After my babies were born, it was the sound of laughter that erupted during peekaboo games. It was the sound of nuzzling and gulping as they drank from me. It was the sound of their voices calling from the crib, "MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!" It was the sound of little ones saying, "I wuv you, Mama!" as their little arms enveloped my neck! It was the sound of my daughter's voice whispering that it would be okay right after we dropped my best friend off at the airport. It was the sound of laughter filling the tent as the man next door snored like a bear and drunk college kids on either side of us made incoherent stupid statements as they argued back and forth. It was the sound of the kids praying together as we homeschooled. It was the sound of my youngest singing, "My God is so Mighty!" as he flexed his little muscles and my daughter busting out "This is my Story," in the grocery story.
The sound of love was also the voice of the stranger, stopping by our restaurant table to tell us she thought our family was awesome. Little did we know she was observing the seven of us interact, order, pray, and eat together. She never knew how her words blessed this insecure Mama's heart.
It was the sound of the principal at one of our kids school greeting me at the door by name. It was her telling me what she enjoyed about each one of my children as she walked me to one of my kids classes. Her words were a soothing balm for the wounds caused by an abusive situation at the previous school.
It was the sound of my kids' voices expressing their concerns over hurting friends whose parents were splitting, whose houses burned, whose grandparents had passed away.
It was the sound of sobs that filled the air of our own home when one of their cousins died and the sobs that erupted when one of our kids was ordered to quit giving the gospel by a local on the Indian reservation.
The sound of love has also comes from pulpits in the form of prayers, in the form of sermons that encourage, exhort, and teach.
Sometimes the sound of love has come in the form of music, especially when the music is saturated with God's truth.
It is the sound of the body of Christ encouraging one another and comforting those who have suffered loss and trauma and rejoicing with those who are celebrating weddings, births, and accomplishments.
For me, it also came in the form answers to the many Bible questions I have asked, the calming prayers prayed over me after a man broke into our home, and the pastor's reminder that God is a good God in the revelation of some pretty hard and yucky stuff. It was the sound of sweet conversations and tears shed when we gathered around a friend who lost a child.
The sound of love is written throughout the Scripture. It was in the words the Lord spoke to Adam and Eve when He called them out of hiding. It was in the words the Lord spoke to Abraham and Sarah promising them a child. It is the words the Lord spoke to Moses from the burning bush, instructing him to lead his people out of bondage. It was in the still small voice whispering to Elijah that he was not alone. It was in the voice of the prophet confronting King David and inviting him to repent. It is the voices of angels announcing Jesus' conception and birth. It is the sound of Jesus' voice teaching the crowds and confronting the Pharisees. It is the sound of Jesus revealing himself to those he healed. It was the sound of silence He kept in the face of false accusations and illegal trials. It was in His cries from the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" and "It is finished!" It was the sound of His voice inviting doubting Thomas to touch His side, inviting Peter back into ministry, and turning Paul's life upside down on the Damascus road. It was the sound of the apostles preaching and teaching after the Jesus' ascension.
Recently Amy Perry of the music group Selah shared she has written a song about the sound of love. The idea for the song came from this passage:
"They shall go after the Lord;
He will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
His children shall come trembling from the west;
they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like droves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord." (Hosea 11:10-11)
As I read these verses, this gal who has been fearful of loud roaring voices was amazed that people would be flocking to the Lion of Judah as He roars. That is the opposite of what happens in nature, for when a lion roars, everything in its path flees. But when the Lion of Judah roars, only his enemy flees, but His children will flock towards Him because we will recognize His roar as the sound of protective, perfect love, which casts out fear.
As I think of the future I get so excited because we will be able to experience God's love in person! Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save, He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing." Can you imagine the Creator, the Mighty God, the King of King,, the Lion of Judah quieting us by singing love songs over us? It gives me chills to just think about it. His voice, whether it be encouraging, comforting, teaching, exhorting, singing, or roaring is the purest sound--the sound of perfect love.