At the climax of the movie The King’s Speech, King George VI is finally goaded by his unconventional speech therapist into declaring, “I have a voice!” —a turning point in his battle to overcome stuttering and effectively lead his country in wartime.
I suppose there is a sense in which we all have to discover that we “have a voice”—that we have something to say that is worthy for the world around us to hear and take note of. To speak up for someone who cannot speak up for himself, we have to find a voice and use it courageously. To speak out on matters of justice and mercy and righteousness, we have to find a voice and use it humbly. To give God the praise he is due we must find a voice and use it unashamedly. When the Pharisees wanted Jesus to silence those who were praising God with a loud voice upon his entry into Jerusalem he said, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
When I heard Colin Firth as King George VI declare in frustration, “I have a voice,” I couldn’t help but think of something Bob Kauflin said in his message, “Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing” at the Desiring God 2008 national conference. I’ve been thinking about ever since he said it:
The question is not, “Do you have a voice?” The question is, “Do you have a song?” If you’re redeemed by Christ’s cross then you do have a song.
It would seem that saying, “I have a voice” is mostly about my ideas, my rights, my place in this world, harnessing my own power, and asserting my own opinion. But when I say, “I have a song,” it is about celebrating the unfathomable grace and mercy of God that sought out and saved a sinner like me. It is about inviting him to wield his authority in my life, seeing myself in light of his place in this world, proclaiming his power and greatness, and allowing his truth to reshape my entrenched perspective and overrule my strong opinions.
How is it that “Bertie” was finally able to speak and shout and find his voice? It was by venting the hurt, frustration, and anger he had stuffed deep down inside his princely decorum over a lifetime of silence. This venting gives the film its R rating. But what must I relinquish to give voice to a song? I must let go of pride that keeps me concerned about the quality of my voice more than the glory of my Savior. I must let go of self-obsession that centers most of my thoughts and words around me and my concerns and my agenda. I must steward the voice that God has given to me to declare his glory among the nations, in my city, and in my home, and even inside my own head. Surely he is worthy of my highest and purest and strongest emotions that simply must give birth to song.
I have a voice. But more significantly, I have a song. “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Ex 15:2).