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The Ears of the Deaf

Last weekend I enjoyed participating in the Ligonier Ministries National Conference, both as a blogger and an observer. It was a joy to gather with almost 5,000 other Christians so we could spend three days focusing on the holiness of God. This marked my third time going to this conference and each one has proven valuable to my knowledge of God and my love for him. This one may well have been my favorite, at least when I think back to the speakers and their messages. I would encourage you to find and purchase the conference audio as I know you will be blessed.

There is one feature of this conference that always jumps out at me—interpretation services for the deaf. Of course this is not the only conference that offers this service and if you have been to a major conference you may well have seen Chuck and Nancy Snyder or another set of interpreters doing their work at the front of the auditorium. It is one of my pleasures, a guilty pleasure perhaps, to occasionally pause during singing to watch the deaf believers sing (sign) their praises to God. For some reason I always find it tremendously moving.

I don’t know exactly why it is that I am so moved and sometimes even brought to tears by watching these believers praise God in their own way. I want to be careful not to romanticize deafness, realizing, of course, that deafness, as with any physical condition or affliction, is a result of man’s Fall into sin and the kind of condition that Jesus healed while he was on this earth. It is a condition that will be fully and finally cured when we go to be in his presence.

The chapter 35 of Isaiah, the prophet writes of just such a day:

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

What a day that will be.

I wonder, though, if their praise so moves me because I see them using their whole bodies to offer praise to God. And in so doing they seem to have found a kind of freedom that few of us feel. We are all accustomed to singing praises to God with our lips but as I looked around during one of the occasions that we worshiped God with music, I saw a lot of people singing joyfully, but doing so while standing stock still. But up at the front were two rows of Christians singing for joy with their hands, their lips, their whole bodies. Perhaps no sound came from their lips, but praise came from their hearts and expressed itself through their bodies. Time after time, when I’ve gone to conferences and paused to watch these brothers and sisters worshiping, I’ve seen this unique expression of praise. Every time it has been a tremendous encouragement to me.

While I was watching them praise God I began to think how much they must anticipate that great day where their ears will be unstopped and they will at last be able to enjoy the music they have been worshiping to, when they will be able to hear the voices of the ones they love, and when they will be able to hear the words of their Savior as he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But then I realized that I was standing still as I brought my gift of praise to God, worshiping with my mouth but giving little other outward evidence of my joy for all that God has done and for all that God is. And I wondered, in heaven, will they be more like us or will we be more like them? My guess is that we will probably meet somewhere in the middle.

Nancy Snyder
Nancy Snyder Interpreting for the Deaf