One day, many years ago, my daughter and I were singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” going through an entire ensemble of barnyard critters. We went in order from mouse to sheep, then cat, horse, cow, dog, goat, donkey, chicken, duck, and goose. When we would come to the point where we sang, “… And on that farm he had a…” she would smile impishly and suggest “moose.” Not sure what a moose sounds like, I kept trying to redirect the song towards “regular” farm animals, only to have her suggest “moose” once again on the next round. I love that memory and loved her joy in taking such creative liberties with the song!
So what does a moose sound like anyway? I seemed to vaguely remember a documentary or something in which I may have heard a moose making some sort of trumpeting noise, but I was not sure how one would fit that into a game of “Old McDonald.”
But something else occurs to me also. Did you ever notice how a “regular” sing-along of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” gives each animal its own unique voice? “Mooses” notwithstanding, each member of McDonald’s farm family has its own niche that no other animal can assume. Cows don’t “cheep” for instance. Nor does a horse go “quack.” If they did, Old McDonald would have gone broke with psychiatric bills for his very confused critters.
Singing that song with my daughter all those years ago reminded me of a story in the Bible in which something else apparently has a voice of its own.
“As He (Jesus) was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’” (Luke 19:37-40 ESV).
Think of it! If the crowd had contained its praise, the stones themselves would have erupted in glorious tribute to the King of Kings with sounds that no human mouth could have uttered!
But the point was not merely that the stones would have broken forth into singing; although, as I become increasingly awed by the vast wonder of God’s boundless ability and creativity, I take His comment quite literally. I realize, as I read this passage, that of the men and women, boys and girls who made up the crowd shouting praises to Jesus, each one had his or her place that only he or she could fill. The voice of each one was not lost in the tumult around him or her, but was joined together with the voices of all those around them to produce a harmony that blessed the ears of the One to Whom they shouted. Each person present was different to all the others there. Each one contributed that day to the thunder of welcome that was lifted up to the Lord. And if any one of them should have held his or her tongue, no other person could have taken his or her place. He or she may as well have set up a rock along the road as it would have been as qualified a substitute as any other person.
In the same way, there is no voice created and included in all of God’s vast world that can utter the exact melody that yours can. You have been given your own spiritual voice, your own spiritual place and niche to serve and celebrate the God of Wonders Who placed you in His world.
Your voice has been given to you to render back to God a resonance of praise and thanksgiving. Don’t let a rock have to pick up your slack because you are withholding your worship. Your voice has been entrusted to you to serve Him by telling of His awesome love, revealed in His Son, Jesus. Don’t let the story be told only by lifeless objects that have no eyes to see with, ears to hear with, nor even hearts to feel with. Your voice has been bequeathed to you so that you may serve God in the use of your words in the privilege and duty of prayer so that His kingdom might advance throughout the world as He listens and honors your intercession for those who either do not know Jesus yet as Lord or for those who belong to Him yet need the strengthening of encouragement that only His Spirit can grant them.
How would the “Old McDonald’s Farm” song go if God were singing it and you were its subject? Would it be “Here a praise! There a praise! Everywhere a praise! Praise!”? I hope so. After all, you and I have so much to praise Him for that it seems a shame to let our opportunities slip by and hope that some stones somewhere will fill in for us!
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 22 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.