Friday, December 20, 2013
The Art of Listening
What a blessing to spend lots of time with my grandpa over the past 14 months during his hospital stays. Recently, I learned a lesson that I'll carry forever. It's one that I think should be shared...
I've been pretty persistent in trying to make sure his faith is solid, and that he knows God is in control. It's been an increasing sense of urgency to me as his cancer has progressed. I've talked and talked and talked some more, but still never felt my words were quite right. In November, I prayed A LOT that God would give me the words I was looking for, and one morning He answered my prayer. As I walked into the hospital before daylight, I must've repeated 10 times..."God, please let today be the day."
Somewhere in the middle of our conversation, my grandpa asked how my work with the kids of our church was going. I soon found myself listening to his stories of church from childhood...stories of his mom (a Sunday School teacher)...and stories of his dad, who didn't have much time for "church people". He shared some verses with me that he remembered from over 70 years ago, including his mom's favorite verse...Matthew 6:33.
As the early morning darkness turned to daylight while I listened, I learned more about his history with religion, church, God, and Jesus than I even knew existed. I came to understand his reservations...which were centered around religion and church, not around God and Jesus. I shared very little in return. And for the first time since the subject of my grandpa's faith had begun weighing on my heart, I felt at ease. God didn't need me to say anything; what He needed me to do was listen.
Since that day, I haven't felt the burden of saying just the right thing to my grandpa. We've talked and prayed, and as he gets closer to the end of his time on this earth, I'm filled with joy knowing we'll meet up again in heaven, and there, we'll spend eternity together.
Tonight, on my way to bed, I stopped to take a quick look at my kids' Jesus Calling book on the kitchen table. What verse should be at the top of the page but Matthew 6:33, the favorite verse of Ann Campbell - the great grandma that I never met. Since that November talk, I had memorized it and knew it would always be close to my heart, knowing it was also close to my grandpa's.
Seeing the words printed on the page, I coudn't help but think...if God had answered my prayer in my way, I would've rambled on and on that November morning. Instead, He answered it in His way, teaching me a lesson I'll always remember. It was a blessing to hear all that my grandpa had to say that morning, and the best ever answer to my prayers as I learned the value in the art of listening.