THE GIFT OF A LISTENING EAR
The Bible speaks of the importance of wise counsel.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Early on, as Mary carried the baby Jesus in her womb… a flood of questions and no doubt concerns weighed on her mind. She traveled to the hill country of Judah and visited with her cousin Elizabeth, who also was pregnant with a baby boy. Together they must have shared the unusual and extraordinary circumstances that would affect both of them and their sons. Whatever their conversations, Mary went away elated and filled with faith in her Lord:
“....Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! Luke 1:46-47 (NLT)
I was five… and this was the earliest moment of real distress that I can recall. I was sitting with my faithful dog Lassie (a beautiful collie- exactly like the famous Lassie on TV). Dad drove up and out came one of my aunts carrying our newborn brother, Steve. Then slowly from the backseat stepped my mother – kind of bent over wearing her night clothes- easing along with assistance from another aunt… and with much difficulty climbed up the front steps. I was filled with sorrow (for mom had always very healthy). I didn’t realize that having a baby would take so much out of her.
I laid my head down on my dog and cried, “O Lassie, what are we going to do?!” Naturally, Lassie had nothing to say, but she looked up at me with her big brown sympathetic eyes – and she just stayed with me.
I took one counseling course in seminary (which doth not make me a certified counselor), but I learned one thing that I’ve tried to practice as a pastor--- try to be a good listener. I believe more good can be done for one another than being a trusted listener. Being a good listener is more than being quiet… it is doing your best to understand--- not judging… and above all being able to be trusted to keep things confidential. Advice is not the most needful matter most of the time… it is for a good sounding board… to express our hurts, confusions, and perhaps our failings. Old Job’s friends did well while they sat with him and listened – then they blew it when they filled his ears with their opinions.
Fortunate is the soul who has some one or many trustful ears with whom to share their burden.
We are in that time between two of the most heartfelt and emotional holidays:
Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Thank you, Lord for the gift of trustworthy listening ears and give me a heart to be the same!