Speaking the Truth in Love

The Whisper Test

One late spring evening in 2004, a Freed-Hardeman University Bible instructor named Roy Sharp was preaching a Gospel meeting for a small rural congregation about 20 miles from the college campus. It was my pleasure to be in the audience that night. Roy’s message included a personal story written by Mary Ann Bird. The author had a difficult childhood, but a teacher’s kind words permanently changed her life for good.

Mary Ann was deaf in one ear and had a cleft palate. As a small girl, she was painfully aware of her misshapen nose, deformed mouth, and garbled speech. Other children made sure that she never forgot her physical differences. Her handicaps made “the whisper test” something to dread. Miss Leonard, a popular teacher, tested the hearing of each student by standing some distance away and whispering a sentence that the child was to repeat. When Mary Ann’s turn came, she anxiously stood in the designated place and cupped her hand over her good ear. The seven words she heard that day in second grade astounded and delighted her: “I wish you were my little girl!”

God deals with our spiritual infirmities in this same tender manner. The New Testament writers describe our ways and thoughts with adjectives such as “crooked,” “perverse,” and “depraved.” Paul says that “all have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:12-18). No, the Lord cannot miss our spiritual deformities. He still longs for a close relationship with us, though. Standing close enough to be heard by anyone who wants to listen, the Father whispers: “I wish you were my little child!”

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