Ponderings with Doug – August 4, 2017

DougFUMCI have noticed that people are speaking softly of late. Actually I have noticed this strangeness for a while. If I am eating lunch with someone their voice tends to get very quiet, so quiet that in dining establishments I have hard time understanding what they are saying to me. Since people are talking more softly these days, I have become adept at reading their lips as they are speaking. It helps me understand their softly spoken words. When I am on the phone, I have no visual clues. I almost won’t answer the cell phone because hearing is such an issue.

When the cell phone rings these days I pray for a shouter. I hope that someone is so miffed that they talk very loudly into the cell phone. I have observed that if they think I’m stupid, they will talk both loudly and slowly. That is the best of all worlds. I don’t really need to understand these phone calls; I spend most of the one-sided conversation, grunting in agreement with what they are telling me. Most of the shouters live on or near one of our great Natchitoches Parish roads.

My bride talks to me about my weakening listening skills. Her mantra has become, “you don’t listen to me.” I have tried to respond to her that I don’t hear most of what she says to me. She has a nasty habit of talking to me when Alabama has the football and it is third and seven on the LSU twenty yard line.

Speaking of hearing, I hear the sounds of football returning. I am rejoicing greatly. The dark period is almost over; we are less than a month away from kickoff. I don’t care who, we are going to be playing football again. If you want your team to win this year, come to First Methodist I am offering the laying on of hands, anointing with oil and fervent prayer for your team. You must be present to receive the football prayer.

I had a secretary once who could not hear. I was told by church members that when Ellen smiles it means she is not hearing a word you are saying. It seemed that Ellen smiled all of the time. When she would leave messages for me that involved phone calls they were always amusing and very often incorrect. I had an associate pastor who was decades past retirement. He couldn’t hear even with his hearing aid. One day, he forgot the name of the dearly beloved we were burying. I couldn’t bail him out by whispering in his ear. I had to say loudly, “Her name is Helen Jones.” From then on I made sure he had the name of the dearly departed written down.

The take away in this noise is that I have concerns that I am not hearing God. There is often too much noise in daily life. Even in prayer, we have such a long prayer list that by the time we tell God everything that is on our minds, we don’t have time to be quiet and listen to Him. I’m great at telling God stuff, I’m not so good at listening to His “still small voice.” The Hebrew behind that English phrase is better translated “the sound of utter silence.” Ponder that phase in your heart.

God speaks, most clearly in Jesus. He speaks. I confess that I need to do a better job of finding ways to listen for the “sound of utter silence.”

How is your heart hearing?