It’s the first week of summer and we are about a month past the Indy 500, usually run on the Sunday of Memorial Day week-end. As most of you know, I was a big Indy 500 fan as a boy and I always looked forward to listening to the race with my father – a tradition that I started with our son, Andrew, when he was born. It continues to this day.
Before the time of live TV broadcasts, radio was the only way to hear the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. And once the speedway started broadcasting on the IMS Radio Network in the mid 1950’s we came to know and love the track announcers each year. Sid Collins was the “voice” of the “500” in the master control tower on the front straight and throughout the years, track announcers such as Lou Palmer, Paul Page, Bob Jenkins and one of my personal favorites, Howdy Bell, either called the race from the various turns or took their turn in the master control tower. During the mid sixties, when I was a young teenager, I formed my deepest attraction to the traditions of the Speedway.
These guys were like old friends. Each year, you would hear them return and you just knew that they were going to call a great race. Eventually, when we moved to Indy, I actually met Lou Palmer and Paul Page, very briefly, as they were picking up sunglasses a week before the race but within the last five years I was surprised to receive a call from a great guy who had decided that he would start officiating weddings. He had a wonderful voice and a great attitude. Imagine my surprise when he introduced himself as Howdy Bell – yes, THE Howdy Bell from radio broadcasting fame. The guy I remember from the sixties and seventies who called the race each May – and who was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2010.
Since that time, Howdy and I have corresponded by email and he is a loyal reader of Transitions. Every so often he writes me words of encouragement and comments on a particular article I have written. He has a great heart and I always enjoy hearing from him. In fact, earlier this week, he wrote me about a post I published last week. As usual, he was very affirming and it was wonderful to hear from him. But I had to chuckle to myself as I read the email.
First of all, it always brings back memories from my childhood when I read his name in my inbox. But what really got me was the way he closed his note to me. After signing off, he had added a line that said, “The Voice you know, the Name you trust! How true! I lived most of my formative years, and beyond, recognizing his voice and trusting his knowledge of the “500.”
Of course, you know by now that I am going to tie this to the Bible. In the early New Testament days, shepherds would sometimes put their sheep in pens for the night. At times, there were only three sides to the pen, and several shepherds would lay down head to toe to form the fourth “side” of the pen, with all the sheep safely in the center of the corral. In the early morning, as shepherds woke and decided to head out, they would stand and call their sheep. The sheep would hear the voice of their master and then exit the pen by walking through the opening where their shepherd had slept on the ground. In other words, they trusted the shepherd and recognized his individual voice. And even though the sheep had been intermingled during the night, the flocks separated as they were called by their various masters.
So you can see how Howdy’s closing reminded me of this story. The verse for this evening is from Jesus, as He uses a similar illustration to show us how believers follow Him – recognizing His voice and trusting Him. We are told by the apostle John, in John 10:27-29, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to follow Him. He yearns for us to recognize His voice and trust His name. My prayer is that you will rest in the knowledge that God loves his flock and that you will trust His decisions for your life. After all, to borrow a line from the great radio broadcaster, Howdy Bell, Jesus is the voice you know, the name you trust… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…