I’m on my deck, tucked in the shade of late morning, when the church bells ring. They peal forth faithfully, as they always do, blanketing the lines of streets with their offering of hope.
I’ve lived here 16 years. I don’t always hear them. But today, they are loud enough to break through my grief-filled prayers.
For centuries, the ringing of church bells has served as a reminder to pray, their rhythm inspired by the verse: “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17). Their familiar song is meant to prick our consciousness and turn our hearts to Him.
But today, the bells do something else.
Today, the bells interrupt my prayers.
Today, the bells remind me that He is listening. He hears my voice.
I strain to hear the tune I’ve heard so many times before. Daily, the sound of this familiar, comforting hymn touches the tops of these roofs, dipping hope into backyards.
Today, I finally name it.
Penned in 1529, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” rings out over hurting hearts all these centuries later. In my grief, its words meet me:
“A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing…
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him, his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him…
…God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.”
In the refuge of my own backyard, as I prayed for God’s intervention and healing, the reminder of my Mighty Fortress falls to my ears, settles into my heart. I only needed to listen.
Today, I stand on the proclamation of these bells.
Today, I cling to the promises delivered while I prayed.
His Kingdom is forever. And He hears our voice.