Will You Listen?

13 02 2012

“Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.” Phillip Stanhope

He wasn’t anyone of extraordinary features that would draw attention to himself.  His look was one that I’ve seen a thousand times over.  To categorize or label this individual in certain, shall we say, demographic terms such as “good ole boy” or at the risk of sounding crass, “redneck” come to mind.  Add in a pair of farmer’s jeans, lace up work boots, button up flannel shirt, light tan Carhart jacket and a ProBass baseball style cap and you start to get a fuller picture of, my soon to be, newest friend.

Cathy, the kids and I were down south visiting friends and family. We had been hiking on and around a rock formation that from its highest point spectators were treated to a beautiful panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery the region had to offer.  After several hours of exploring, we headed down the path toward the car, tired and ready to get something to eat.  Near the trail head is where we met him (I’ll call him Jack), hands stuffed deep in his pockets he had a look that he wanted to head up the direction we just came, but wasn’t quite sure if he should give it a go or not.  With a smile I greeted Jack as we came up on him and he returned my greeting in a quiet voice.  “Those your kids?  Good looking group there.”  I thanked him and was about to move on when he said, “I used to bring my little girl here too, but that was a long time ago.  Now I come here and walk around by myself.”  I sensed immediately there was a lot more Jack wanted, or rather, needed to say.  I had Cathy take the kids to the car and told her I would follow soon.  That’s all it took, and Jack’s story began to unfold there on the pathway.

Jack was a Vietnam veteran having served two tours of duty there.  Upon returning home he married his childhood sweetheart and it wasn’t long until she blessed him with a baby daughter.  As he spoke, it was obvious this was his entire world, seemingly the only thing, in his mind he ever did right.  Life, it seemed, wasn’t a friend to Jack after he returned from the war.  Suffering from what we now call “Post Traumatic War Syndrome,” this soul found simple life, such as holding a job, or talking about what was inside him a difficult, if not impossible task.  As time went on, it cost him his marriage and also watching his little girl grow up except on visitation days.  As she grew older even those visits became less.  Staring up the trail at the rock formation Jack continued on, “Once she got into her teenage years I don’t suppose I saw her more than a few days a year.”  Finally turning to look at me for only a slight moment he said in an even softer voice, “Then one day, she was gone.” He then went back to looking up the path, perhaps picturing her once again bounding down the trail, all laughs and smiles.  He never said exactly what he meant with his statement, but I was sure I understood what he was saying and I also understood that no matter how long it took I had to stand there with Jack and let him talk it all out, he needed that more than I needed a meal.

When he came to the end of what was on his heart he said, “I’m sorry mister, I never throw off my problems of folks, especially ones I don’t know, but for some reason I really needed talk today and something told me to speak to you.”  I assured my new friend Jack that no apology was necessary and that God meant for us to meet that day.  He allowed me to pray with him and before I left I kindly admonished him to seek help from a veteran’s affairs organization and with a pastor friend of mine that lived near there.  As we parted ways, Jack thanked me for listening to him and with the 1st smile I saw come to his face he said, “Take care of those babies now!”

None of us know when we will suddenly be placed in an emergency situation where we have to act quickly on the behalf of another individual who desperately needs someone to be there for them, maybe even to save their life. I’m not saying that was the case the day I met Jack, but I have wondered what would have happened if I chose to ignore this man at a moment that he needed someone, at a moment that he needed a caring ear.  Sometimes that’s all God has called upon us to be, a kind, caring, sensitive ear for someone to talk to.  In my world I see it as not just the least I can do but also a privileged way to serve.  If the Creator of the universe can love me enough to send His Son for my sake, for my survival; what reason do I have not to extend a hand or an ear to another?

Here’s a few other reasons I’ve found to help others:

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

All I can do is speak for myself, but I find this works well in producing happiness in others, as well at the Gray One here!

Keep those eyes and ears open, boys and girls; you just never know when God might call upon them to be senses for someone else.  🙂


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One response

13 02 2012
Charlene Howington

I totally agree, we call them divine appointments. ~charlene

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