“Leo, can I have my phone?” I asked my four-year-old son.
“Wait,” he said, holding up in front of him. “Let me talk to Alexa.”
Never mind that the all-knowing voice that speaks out of my phone is actually named Siri, and never mind that he doesn’t always know exactly how to activate her all-knowing powers. My son Leo loves Alexa. Whenever he gets the chance, he scoops up one of our phones and sends out a message to this inexplicable voice.
“Alexa, what is the weather?”
“Alexa, are you at home?”
“Alexa, do you love me?”
And her response is one of many varied, standard replies.
“I’m sorry. What is that?”
“I didn’t catch that.”
“Seems like I cut you off. Can you please repeat that?”
She doesn’t seem to speak the language of four-year-olds.
My four-year-old is as rambunctious and adorable as they come. He loves the fact that he is learning how to write his letters, and he plays and fights in varying degrees with his siblings but mostly with his two-year-old sister. He is like most other children. But the other day I realized something about him. He thinks Siri, AKA Alexa, AKA the voice in my phone, is a real person.
I can’t remember the exact question he asked or the response he was given, but when I saw his reaction, the expression on his face, and how eagerly he tried to say something else, I realized it’s true. He believes that this voice speaking back to him is a human being—someone who is listening, thinking carefully through his requests, and responding.
This realization both amused and alarmed me. And recently the thought lodged a bit deeper—as I considered the voices I listen to, the voices I allow to speak into my life.
I recently released a new book into the world called Once We Were Strangers. It is the story of how a Syrian refugee became my friend and then taught me what it means—what it really means—to be a neighbor. A friend. And, of course, as that book has released into the world, I find myself hearing the same old voices of self-doubt and uncertainty.
Will anyone like your book? Does it matter, at all? What if you’re actually a terrible writer and no one has the guts to tell you?
But there is a Voice that speaks truth, a Voice that is backed by a real presence.
These voices will speak constantly to me, if I let them. Voices, all around us, even inside of us. Voices that would identify us, if we allowed them. Voices that would tell us where to go or what to do or how to live our lives. You hear them too. I know you do. What are they telling you?
But there is a Voice that speaks truth, a Voice that is backed by a real presence. “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17). And what are some of these thoughts?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to” (Ephesians 2:10).
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declaire the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a).
Can you listen to the voice of God today? Can you hear the great love God has for you?