You may be familiar with Adventures in Odyssey, a radio show created by Focus on the Family. When I was little, I waited with bated breath to hear what would happen next, and, would you believe it, the show is still going, all these years later?
I lived my life along with Odyssey. The characters that I remember hearing occasionally cameo. They are grown up now, with lives and families and jobs. Just like me.
This past January, a good friend and I road-tripped to California to crash an Odyssey recording session. It was an opportunity to connect again with her (we were founding members of the Adventures in Odyssey club in college), to re-connect with Katie Leigh (the voice of Connie, whom I flew across the country to meet when she spoke at my alma mater), and to be a part of the behind the scenes magic of a show I've followed for most of my life.
Though Whit, the wise and grandfatherly main character of the show, has been voiced by three different men, and various other characters have been through metamorphoses of their own, much has remained the same. Connie and Eugene (Katie Leigh and Will Ryan) have been acting these parts together for almost as long as the show has been on the air. And, most importantly, the values of the show have not changed.
Our trip had scarcely started when we met Aria Curzon (the voice of Mandy) for dinner. She's about our age, and cares about the things we care about. She is not currently on Odyssey, but I would know her voice anywhere. It was delightful to swap music recommendations, talk about God and relationships and what had been before, all with someone I felt that I'd met before.
My friend and I, and a couple of younger fans from the Midwest, went to dinner with some of the actors. Townshend Coleman, the voice of Jason, met up with us for Mexican food. My friend twirled on the dance floor with Will Ryan. We took copious photos.
The beauty of radio is that it forces me to listen. I could close my eyes and focus on the story, allowing my mind to paint a picture. The voices of these characters are part of my memory, my history, they have been speaking truth to me for years. All at once, just the way it was with Katie when we first met, I was hearing words spoken just for me. They weren't just reading a script, granted, a well-written and encouraging script, but they were talking to me, with me, for my benefit. With their voices. Voices that I know.
One of the first episodes we listened to, as it was recorded, is part of the story of Samuel, and his mother Hannah. I have always loved that story, and have referenced it from time to time on this blog. As I listened to it, brought to life, I began to weep, right there in the recording studio, as the actors continued to go through their lines, carefully considering their diction. As you know, it's a story about longing, and about listening.
Over and over again, I heard the same lines, but they did not lose their power.
When I was there in January, longing was heavy on my heart. God was beginning (or continuing) His work of teaching me to long for what He longs for in me. I cried over that, over Hannah, and I still do sometimes. Now, I'm in a different place, and I'm hearing these episodes again. This time, I realize that they are also about listening to God. Like Samuel, I am trying to listen.
Adventures in Odyssey has been a voice that I have trusted. When I was small, I listened to the life lessons and the Scriptures with enjoyment, a little pitcher, open to be filled. As I've gotten older, I'm realizing how many true things came this way, encouraging me, speaking to me in gracious simplicity. The voices of the actors were the instruments to communicating what I now know to be true. I knew their voices, I trusted those voices.
So it is with God.
I have walked with God for many years now. I have heard His voice in many ways. He speaks my name, He speaks with me, for me, for my benefit. I try to listen to His voice. A voice I know.
On our final day at the recording studio, my friend and I, and the other fans who watched and listened, were invited to provide some background voices for a Sunday School class in one of the episodes, No Chemistry Whatsoever. We entered the hallowed recording studio, sat at our mics and chattered appropriately. If you listen very closely, you can just hear us.