Remember answering machines?
For many of our younger people, it may be difficult to relate to anything other than voice mail. It may surprise them to learn that there was, in fact, a way to leave a message with somebody before the invention of cell phones and voice mail. However, answering machines have not quite yet gone the way of the horse and buggy. It is still possible to call something we now call a landline and leave a message on one of those devices.
I was reminded recently of an experience I had a number of years ago with an answering machine. I dialed the telephone number of a woman who had lost her husband several months earlier. At least I thought it was her number that I had dialed. I began to wonder, though, because of the message I heard on the machine. I was listening to a man’s voice. At first, that surprised me, but it only took me a couple of seconds to realize that I had, indeed, dialed the correct number.
I was listening to the voice of her late husband.
As technology continues to develop, newer ways of preserving voices and images are available. Those who have the “know-how” can even put images and voices of those who are no longer living together with those who are. They can produce something that makes it appear that the dead and the living are working together, performing together, or having a conversation with one another. Families are often comforted by hearing the voices and/or seeing images of departed loved ones.
However, the ability to communicate past the time of our earthly demise has existed for a long, long time. Consider what is said about Abel in Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks” (ESV, emphasis added).
I suppose we could call it our legacy, our influence, our impact, or any number of other things, but what we do now can continue to “speak” long after we are gone. In Abel’s case, he was “speaking” thousands of years after his death.
I wonder what message I’m leaving on my machine. How about you?