Are You Listening?


Praying for my day,everything was planned out.  I had traveled to Raleigh NC to help serve at the I Commit conference for Voice of the Martyrs and was on the way to the church to set up. Making a quick stop to get a bite to eat, the fast food place was fast but there was no seating. Holding my tray of food, phone in my hand, planning on making some phones calls, an older man sitting alone at a table for four motioned for me to sit with him. Thinking, “I don’t have much time to talk but just to eat”, I made my way to his table.

We introduced ourselves. Smiling, I politely told him I had to eat hurriedly because I was helping with a Christian conference. That really didn’t matter to him as he proceeded to share his story with me. I slipped my phone into my purse, realizing I was there for more than a quick meal. This man, Tommy, shared how he came to the restaurant often, and the people there knew him. He had moved to Raleigh with his wife to be near their children. Then he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the benign tumor was removed but left him with no sense of smell and sight in only one eye. Thinking he would not mentally survive, his wife divorced him and sent him to a mental hospital. His kids rescued him from the hospital and he eventually found a friend in a church near his apartment. He smiled and said, all is good and I enjoy seeing my kids even though I live alone.

We continued to have a wonderful conversation. He wanted to know more about VOM and my family. Finishing our lunches, we shook hands and gave each other a name card to stay in touch. But I walked away convicted. How many “Tommys” are there who just need someone to talk and share with?  They aren’t in my planned out schedule but need someone to hear their story.

Jesus also lived a busy life on earth. Preaching in the synagogue, teaching to the masses and to His disciples, yet, He made time to listen to people. People were his purpose. As He went about His day, Jesus listened with love, patience, kindness and gentleness to people’s stories – the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zacchaeus’s questions, Martha complaining about Mary, the disciples fussing about the greatest in God’s kingdom, and more.

Thinking about my time with Tommy, I have started a habit of asking God daily who He wants me to listen to, pray for, or share His message of love with. Yet, am I willing to be inconvenienced? Jesus was often inconvenienced as He traveled from town to town listening to others.

Jesus told his disciples, “go” or “as you are going” make disciples. (Matthew 28:19)  While I am going throughout my day, going in many directions, am I listening to the hurting people around me, ready to share God’s love for them?  Next time someone needs a listening ear, I’ll put the phone down, the plan book up, and show the fruit of love, kindness, patience and gentleness as Christ would have done.  Who knows, I may change someone’s life that day just by listening.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  Colossians 3:12

(photo by Whitebeard)

The Power of Gentleness

While pondering the word – gentleness– my mind goes back to Nickel Mines, PA.

The shooting of 10 peaceful Amish girls, killing 5, brought such horror and shock. More shocking and amazing was the quiet gentleness of forgiveness that was shown at a time of deep sorrow and pain.  Defined by their gentle strength, the grieving Amish fathers visited the wife of the killer.  They gently cared about her pain and expressed forgiveness towards her deceased husband. Grief-torn themselves yet they were gentle towards the pain of others.

That gentle strength continues even today.  Teri Roberts, the mother of the killer, makes weekly visits to care for one of the victims, Rosanna – paralyzed, unable to walk, talk or eat.  She bathes Rosanna, gently caring for her lifeless body, cleaning her bedclothes, brushing her hair, singing songs and reading Bible stories.  Her strength is in her gentleness despite her own pain and grief.

There is a certain power in gentleness.  A strength that is seldom seen in this world filled with violence, hatred, harshness and sternness. And the world wonders where that strength comes from.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.” Matthew 11:28, 29

As I go to Jesus, he has the strength to take my burdens and pains, the power to lead me and to make me gentle and humble.  The result is peace and rest.  As I trust in Him, He produces the gentleness in my life.

Am I gentle in my words and actions towards others in my life? Is there some situation where I need to show gentleness instead of abrasiveness or harshness?  I want to learn from Jesus who is the epitome of gentleness.

“Both gentleness and meekness are born of power, not weakness… We should never be afraid, therefore, that the gentleness of the Spirit means weakness of character. It takes strength, God’s strength, to be truly gentle.”

Jerry Bridges – The Practice of Godliness