The call center where I work is a sea of voices. Many of our customers are elderly and hard of hearing, and we often have to shout to be heard over the phone line. Just yesterday I was wishing for some peace and quiet.
This morning I woke up with acute laryngitis. I called my supervisor and squeaked out, “Hi. This is Rachel.”
“Oh,” she said, immediately recognizing what was going on. She spent all of last week nearly voiceless herself; she’s probably the one who gave me this thing. Since 99% of my job is spent on the phone, she knew it was impossible for me to come in. “Get some rest. I hope you feel better soon.”
Alone in the apartment, I didn’t need to use my voice, but the silence was uncomfortable after awhile. I decided I’d look for an audiobook to listen to while I did some easy knitting to pass the time.
I settled on George MacDonald’s book Unspoken Sermons, which is in the public domain and freely available. I’d never read any of his stuff before; my greatest acquaintance with him was his role as C.S. Lewis’s fictionalized guide in The Great Divorce.
I listened to the sermons, starting at the beginning. At first, my muddied-by-sickness brain found it hard to follow his philosophical, highly logical arguments (easily showing one similarity between him and Lewis), but as I settled into the rhythm of them, I found them easier to grasp, primarily based on a logic of the heart. Each one begins with a tiny kernel of Scripture, then dives deep into it in search of what God meant it to teach us. He is obsessed with seeking the face of God, not content to leave passages as intellectual exercises or lists of rules to be followed “just to be on the safe side.” Everything is a love letter to him.
His primary concern is to show that the character of God is reflected in the whole Bible, consistent with itself and with the noblest instincts he’s given us humans, instincts toward love. To him, God is truly all-loving and all-powerful and uses everything for our good, even though we may not be able to see it. His answer to the question, “How could a loving God send people to Hell?” shows his genuine wrestling with the question and his own compassion for the whole human race.
You can tell I love a book if I never forget where I was when I read it (for instance, I remember reading The Great Divorce on a single plane ride about ten years ago). I think this is going to be one of those books. Today, although I was sick and lethargic, was a wonderful day, bathed in beautiful and insightful words from a man who truly loved God.