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Friday, December 27, 2013

Queit Time: Listen; Just Listen

Listen; Just Listen

They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. —Job 2:13

Yesterday I met Mike. Within twenty minutes I knew more about his life than the men I’ve worked with for more than twenty years. He was bringing in the shopping carts for one of the big chain stores when I asked him if he wanted the cart I’d just finished using. He said sure and then asked, “How was your Christmas?” Before I could answer he said, “I was off work for Christmas but…” 

The next several minutes, while standing in that parking lot, I listened without saying a word to Mike as he described, in rapid staccato, a life filled with relentless pressure and pain.

Here’s what I learned about Mike:

  •   Forty years old
  •  One sibling, a sister, whom he loves
  •  Doesn’t drink or smoke
  •  Single, never married, and no prospects
  •  Living paycheck to paycheck
  •  Drives an old car that’s ready to break down at any minute
  •  Had to fend for himself by age 14
  • 8th grade education
  •  Believes in hard work and no hand-outs
At this point in the conversation, it got personal….
  •  Father and mother are alcoholics and as far as he can remember, have always been
  • They drank and smoked away any money that may have helped maintain the household
  • Mike doesn’t visit them and didn’t see them Christmas; too depressing
  • Mike got nothing for Christmas
  • The last gift he received was a pair of socks from his dad several Christmases past
  • He thinks Christmas is all about getting not giving; and it certainly has nothing to do with Christ
  •  He sat around and did nothing Christmas day.
  • No one called him and he called no one.
  • No one cares
Now, let me be candid, people don’t often open up to me like that. As a matter of fact, I’ve been told by friends and co-workers that I can be a bit intimidating. That’s a laugh. Besides, like most people, I usually try and avoid the Mikes of this world. But, for some reason this guy felt free to talk to me, and I felt free to listen. 

Now that I think about it, may-be it was due to the bible verse from my personal quiet time yesterday (Job 2:13) that made the difference.  I asked God to help me be a better listener, and He did. 

It's sobering to think how many Mikes I may have missed in the past just because I didn’t care enough to listen.

Here are some more verses that come to mind:
(James 1:19) Quick to listen (Prov. 17:27) Restrain your words (Prov. 16:32) Be a patient person

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