Because of severe ear infections when I was a child, whenever I hear something one way and another person hears it another way – I am almost always wrong.
For example, I can’t tell the difference between Wales and whales. I almost never come up with the correct song lyrics until I see them in print. All my life, I thought that the Popeye cartoon featured a baby named “Sweet Pea” instead of SweePea, and Brutus instead of Bluto. I was totally amazed to discover that the mean non-charmer’s name was Bluto.
I can’t tell the difference between my Texas accent and Scottish accents. My y’all has a tendency to announce my non-native status here in Scotland. The Scot’s frequent use of aye and pronunciation of garage as garerugze, aluminum as alyouminemem, and resume as reezoome would garner attention in the U.S. Even though I can’t tell the difference in accents, I must sound different because I’m always being asked, “Where are you from?”
Nor can I sing. I can’t tell the difference between the way everyone else is singing and the way I’m singing. In elementary school, I was told that I could stand on stage and “sing” with the rest of my class as long as I opened and closed my mouth without making a sound. When I sing in church, I follow voices going up and down on certain words. The music everyone else is following is lost to me, and if the words vary from what I have memorized with the tune (as is so often the case with the Scottish version of hymns), I can’t sing it at all. The only flat I understand is a tire or a piece of ground and sharp means that if I keep messing around with it, I’m gonna get cut.
Recently, I realized what a blessing my faulty hearing is. It has made me more thankful that Jesus came into the world as a baby and grew to manhood, only to be nailed to the cross for my sins and the sins of the world. Before I was a Christian, I mocked the idea that one perfect, sinless Man would need to die for me – or anyone else. I didn’t want someone dying for me. I didn’t ask anyone to. But after I met Jesus in person and asked Him into my heart, spiritual blinders fell away and I realized the beautiful simplicity of God’s plan of salvation and why it is the only fair and just way of determining who goes to Heaven.
If people had to sing their way into Heaven, I’d never make it. If they had to work their way into Heaven, it would exclude anyone who was born with mental or physical disabilities. If people had to achieve Heaven through knowledge, it would exclude people who never had the opportunity to get an education. If people could pay their way into Heaven, it would exclude the poor. Instead, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Anyone and everyone who asks Him into their hearts is saved and gets to go to heaven – whether they are young or old, rich or poor, whole or broken, talented or ordinary – and no matter what race or nationality they are. The ground at the cross is level.
And fortunately, God hears prayers of the heart and spirit. One doesn’t need a certain accent, a certain formation of words, a certain tone of voice, for God to hear his or her prayer. He smiled at my prayers and answered them even when I used to say, “Our Father Who art in Heaven, hollowed be Your name.