Loud Enough to be Heard

I’m not sure when it stopped mattering to me. At some point in the last forty years, things changed drastically.

I don’t really care what they think anymore.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Perhaps, a little explanation will aid in unraveling my boast.

It was during the last semester of the school year. The beloved director of the student orchestra, who graciously allows me to participate — I think, just to have the part covered — had handed out a new music piece.

We sight-read the piece. Sight-reading is the act of playing a piece of music through without having ever rehearsed — or even seen — it before.

I didn’t realize it was true of my playing, but it must have been. After the rehearsal session was over, as we were putting away our instruments, one of the students mentioned that he had heard my solo line clearly.

I don’t know how you dare do that — play it loud enough for everyone else to hear. And, on the first run-through, too!

I thought a minute before replying.

There’s no one here I’m afraid of. Why not play it out?

It hasn’t always been the case. My old horn teacher hammered the thought into my head. I’ve written the words before.

If you’re going to make a mistake, make it loud enough for me to hear!

The last time I wrote the phrase, someone responded with Martin Luther’s words, paraphrased a bit.

Sin boldly.

I cringe a little at the words. I don’t want to encourage anyone to live a life of debauchery, claiming the grace of God as their get-out-of-jail-free card. That’s not the way it works.

But, Mr. Luther knew and understood our lifelong tug of war with self and sin. He affirmed the grace of God to be more than adequate to the task of cleansing us from all sin.

Still. I will say it again. Play it out! Speak with authority!

Belt out the tune!

I’ve not always followed that advice. For many years, what I wanted was to be loud enough that everyone would hear the good and compliment me for it, but soft enough that not one listener could detect the rotten inconsistencies that were bound to turn up sooner or later.

What changed?

What changed was the realization that there was nobody — either in the ensemble or in the audience — I was afraid of. There is nothing they can do to hurt me.

I’m just sorry it took me so many years to realize it.

All those wasted years spent sliding around wrong notes and playing out of tune — meekly and quietly — when I could have been making a difference.

Bold and certain of my sanction, I could have been a voice that made a difference, sounding with clarity and purpose.

Hmmm. I think we’re not just talking about playing in the orchestra anymore, are we?

And the Teacher told His disciples that they had been practicing in the dark and behind closed doors at low volume for long enough. All that was about to change.

What you’ve been playing at the pianissimo level behind closed doors and in the dark will soon be played out in the town square at fortissimo. You’re afraid of the wrong people! Don’t fear them. Fear God. (Luke 12:3,4)

I’ll admit, I’ve taken a little liberty with the context. To my knowledge, that little band of men has no record of having played musical instruments, even though they did sing a time or two.

Still, the meaning is the same. Very nearly.

Don’t be afraid to be heard. Be loud! Be bold!

But, maybe you don’t play a musical instrument. Perhaps you simply answer a telephone. Or clean floors. Or write code. Or sell flowers.

Whatever you do, you can do it with boldness. You’re not doing it for anyone who has the power to harm you.

We perform for the One who has made it clear, unequivocally and emphatically that He will not allow us to be harmed. Under His direction, we find safety. (Psalm 46:1)

Does that imply that no one will laugh at us? Is it a promise of physical protection, that we will lead charmed lives?

You know the answer. Damage to the body is not damage to the soul.

He holds our souls in the palm of His hand. It is the only safe place — the only one.

So, we speak boldly. We act courageously. We love audaciously.

There’s nothing to hurt us here.

Held firmly in His grip, we live life out loud.



Live well. Sing out, sing loud, and sing often. And God bless the child that’s got a song.
 (Nanci Griffith ~ American singer/songwriter)

The wicked run away when no one is chasing them,
 but the godly are as bold as lions.
 (Proverbs 28:1 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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