Even though, we have lived our entire lives inside of ourselves, as the only person privileged to every thought, word, and action in our lives, one of the steepest challenges that remains forever in front of us is to know and to be the person God has created us to be.
In the middle of each day, as we are climbing up the hill of that steep challenge, we can open our eyes and become aware to the fact that we are living as a stranger unto ourselves. It may sound like our voice, it may seem like our hands, and it may look like someone wearing our clothes, but it is not us. For one reason or another, or for many reasons, some of which have a great impact on our lives and others that are more frivolous, we are not truly honest about what we think, how we feel, or who we are. We are more concerned or just consumed with being who we are not.
It is a dilemma that keeps us searching for our voice of integrity and innocence, as we navigate the decisions and challenges in front of us. There are many other voices calling out to us, many of whom have good intentions. They are calling for our attention and beckoning for our response. We find these voices near to the church and far from it. We hear them from those close to us and from people we have never met. Each voice may sound sincere, but which ones help us discover our voice of integrity and innocence?
Questions related to geography have never been my strength, but my brother-in-law is from Australia, so he and my sister live in Canberra, the country's capital. When we saw them several months ago while they were here visiting family, they gave our two young sons Australian money. They are unable to spend it, but it was exciting to them.
On pieces of the Australian currency is a beautiful picture of a bird. It is one of the best-known native birds in the country, called a lyrebird. They are poor fliers, so they stay on the ground the majority of the time, and they love to sing. During particular seasons of the year, a lyrebird will sing for almost half the hours of daylight.
Most notably, though, they have the uncanny ability to mimic other sounds. The lyrebird will copy the sounds of other types of birds, singing identical to them, fooling other birds into thinking the lyrebird is one of their own. The lyrebird also defies all reason because it is able to mimic almost any sound imaginable. It can imitate the sounds of koalas and dingos. It can mimic the sound of any animal in the forest, and it can also imitate any human caused sound.
The lyrebird has been recorded making the sound of a mill whistle, a running chain saw, a car alarm, a gunshot, a camera shutter, a dog barking, a baby crying, and even a human voice. It is uncanny because it can imitate almost any sound, which raises one particular question.
In listening to the lyrebird sing like other birds, mimicking the noises of other animals, and even imitating the sound of machines and humans, it raises the question, "What is a lyrebird suppose to sound like? What is its genuine sound? What is its true song?"
In the midst of all of the sounds around us, we have to discern what is our genuine song. Our true song is found when our lives sound like the innocence and integrity of the love of God, not any other noise around us. It is when we live as people of forgiveness, as people who cling to transparency, as people who work towards simple humility, and as people who desire good for everyone involved.
It is hard to discern this voice in the midst of all of the other sounds around us. One way that we determine this voice is by listening to the life of Jesus. It is the voice by which we develop our song. In the very end, it is as Eudora Welty so truthfully said, "Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied."