It's elementary, my dear Ringo
March 23, 2011I didn't want to cause an international incident. The last thing I needed was to start a war with Ireland. How could I live with that on my conscience? But seriously, this guy's accent was driving me crazy. I had to get to get to the bottom of it, even if it meant breaking protocol.
It all started innocently enough. A friend of mine was getting married in Ireland and trying to make the arrangements from back here in Kentucky. Apparently securing a clergyman across an ocean is harder than catching a leprechaun, but my friend had finally found a reputable guy and needed a reference from her home church.
That's where I came in.
It was my first overseas conference call, so I was pretty pumped. Actually, it was my first overseas call of any kind. I felt like I was about to broker a million-dollar deal with some high-rolling business cartel.
But I was also stoked because I love accents. Maybe it's my small-town upbringing or my background in drama or just my sheer love of words. Whatever the case, I couldn't wait to hear this Irish chaplain's accent. I knew it would be cool beyond belief.
A few seconds into the conversation I sensed something wrong. This guy's accent was disappointing to say the least. First of all, he spoke softly, so it made it hard to pick up much of anything. But as the conversation progressed, I started thinking, this guy sounds less Irish than I do.
Actually, I thought he sounded like Paul McCartney. Why would he sound like a Beatle? He's Irish, for goodness' sake.
We were in the middle of a serious conversation, but, by this point, I was dying to ask this guy what was up with his accent. I somehow doubt it would have been appropriate to the situation and, thus, my fear of causing an international incident and inadvertently sparking a war with Ireland. Honestly, that was the last thing I wanted.
Then, out of the blue, my prayers were answered.
"I'm actually not from Ireland," he confessed. "My wife's Irish. I'm English. I'm from near Liverpool." Liverpool? As in the home of the Beatles? Hello! Sherlock Holmes is in the house! I couldn't believe the way I had pinned this guy's hometown just based on his accent.
In all humility, I must confess that my investigative skills were absolutely uncanny.
I wanted to walk around making brilliant deductions about people the rest of the day. What's this? A strand of white fur on your jacket? I can see that belongs to a rare breed of Himalayan sheep dog, and there are only three breeders in this region, which means that you must be a Sagittarius!
But I didn't.
Instead, I thought about how the pastor's accent had been a dead giveaway even to someone as provincial as me. Obviously, he wasn't even close to Irish.
Accents tell you about people's origins. I thought about how the Bible says that people who followed God would have a kind of accent, too. A dead giveaway. It's called love, and it's an unmistakable sign of the real friends of God.
It's the kind of love that gives itself up for others and doesn't look back. All types of hypocrites and hucksters may try to use God's name for self gain, but Jesus said the world would know His true followers by their love for one another.
Last week, my wife and I were eating fast food with some friends when we struck up a conversation with a lady who was working there. Turns out she'd lost her husband just last week. I didn't understand how she could even be at work, but here she was taking care of us, asking how we were doing. I wished we could do something for her but didn't know what. Without missing a beat, my wife said we should get her a gift card.
She's always doing things like that. Cooking meals, giving gifts, offering her help to people she barely knows. You can hear the accent of sacrificial love in everything she does.
I want more of that accent in my life. I want it to come through loud and clear. I'm tired of God getting a black eye because people say they come from Him and then act like total jerks. I'm tired of the times I've acted like a total jerk. I want my accent — the love I show to others — to consistently represent the God I love.
Talk about causing an international incident? That kind of love could ignite a global sensation that would even put Beatle-mania to shame.
Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.blogspot.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.