Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The listener

Some years ago, I read a fictional book titled "The Listener." At the time of its first publishing, the author published it anonymously, even though she was and is an accomplished author. I forget her reasons, but she later published it under her name, Terri Blackstock. The book was a departure from her usual genre' of Christian suspense/mystery.

 In the book, the main character, Sam Bennett, wakes up with a strange ability: he can hear what people's pain. The overworked single mother at the coffee shop, wondering how she is going to make it. The bullied teen walking by who is considering suicide. Everywhere he goes, Sam hears people's pain as if they were speaking it to him.

  The author did a follow up book geared for teens titled "The Gifted." Similar to the other book, this book has 3 young people who are injured in an earthquake, and recover miraculously, and take on new abilities. One, like the man in the first book, can hear people's pain. Another can quote the right Scriptures to bring the people to Christ, and the third can lead the other two to those in need.

  The books were both interesting reads, and made you think. And oddly, I have been thinking about them recently for some reason. The books aren't the only thing to approach the idea of hearing people's pain. There is a video I watched while back where a man is given a pair of glasses that shows what people are dealing with around him.

  I doubt I am the only person to read those books and watch that video and think about how neat it would be to be able to hear or see what people are dealing with. It would make it so much easier to help people and minister to them if we could do that.

  But would we really want that? A constant barrage of people's problems and issues everywhere we went? It would likely drive a person insane.

  In the books, the people eventually lose their abilities, but the message comes through that we don't need a special ability to find hurting people. They are all around us, and if we just look and pay attention, we can see it on people's faces, in their eyes, we can hear it in their voices. But most of us don't pay attention. We are too busy. We want to care, and down deep we may actually care, but we are in this rat race called life, and are caught up in the busyness of life, so we don't have time to offer an encouraging word, a hug, a few minutes of time.

  It has been said that "fine" is the Christian "f-word." When asked how we are, we just say "fine." We figure, and usually correctly, that the other person doesn't really want to hear our woes or how we are really doing, so we say the expected response "fine." And the other person smiles and walks on. Rarely do we look past the "fine" into the eyes. Rarely do we ask "are you really?"

  With all of our modern technology to save time and help us to do tasks more efficiently, we seem to have less time than our forefathers who had none of the time saving devices that we have.

  And yet, if we are honest, most of us have time for what we want to have time for. I was in charge of something at my church one year where it was my job to get people to read a handful of selected books and keep track of who had them and how many people had read them. I got so weary of hearing the excuse "I don't have time." I'd tell my family "I bet if I asked them down for games and pizza, they'd have time for that." Cynical of me, but true. And I wasn't blaming people for not wanting to read the books. Just admit you'd rather not. That's what I do.

 The world is full of hurting people. Our churches are full of hurting people. We don't need special abilities to see their pain. We may not always know what is wrong, but we can often tell something is wrong,

 But we are too busy.
 Or don't care enough.
 Or both,

  If we did have the ability to hear people's pain and needs, would we live any differently? Or would we do as too many of us do now: block it out. Walk on and avert our eyes.

  And granted, some people are really good at hiding their pain. I usually am.

 A friend posted a link to an interesting post recently. The girl who wrote it talked about how her boyfriend never just says "hello" to people he meets. He asks questions to get a conversation going. Neat idea. And if you read the post, you'll see he gets interesting results sometimes.

  But again, do we want to take the time to care enough?

 I get it that people are busy. But if we are too busy to help others, too busy to reach out and win people to Jesus......... then maybe we had better find a way to make time.

 In the Bible, Jesus talks about people being rejected in Heaven for not visiting those in prison, for not clothing people who need clothes, etc. And I don't believe that means we literally have to do those things, but it does mean we need to reach out and help people who need it, help the hurting. We can't all go into the prisons and hospitals, but we can offer a kind word, a cup of coffee, an email or Facebook message.

 It doesn't always take a lot of time to listen and care. But it will take effort and and compassion. But it is what God would want.

God's Glasses from keephopealive on GodTube.

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