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Posts Tagged ‘James the brother of Jesus’

We sat on the back patio in the warm sun, chatting as we ate our lunch. This year, while my husband and I met with our son’s family for afternoon tea on Mothers’ Day itself, I decided I wanted to catch up with our two daughters separately on different days. This then was my opportunity to be with our older daughter and, even though our meal was relatively simple, I found our time together and the warm conversation we enjoyed priceless.

I had made egg sandwiches which our daughter then garnished with parsley and chives from her garden, thus adding wonderful aroma and taste and lifting my basic fare out of the ordinary. Then our daughter served a delicious sponge cake she had baked, complete with jam and cream in the centre and icing sugar on top. What a treat! Immediately, it brought back such comforting memories of my mother’s and grandmother’s sponges which I myself have never been able to replicate.

We topped off our special yet simple lunch with hot cups of tea—all so enjoyable on that level alone. But as we relaxed and chatted, I was reminded again of a deep truth I have noticed many times in the past and experienced myself—the truth that most of us so long to be listened to. Really listened to, that is. This day with our daughter, I felt heard, airing all my various current concerns about my writing and life in general with her. And I hope and pray she felt the same, as I tried my best to hear clearly the things she shared and empathise with her in the process.

You see, one thing she mentioned in this time was that, when talking with a particular friend, she often does not feel heard. ‘They just do not listen!’ she told me with great frustration. Have you ever experienced this yourself? This is how misunderstanding happens, isn’t it? We can feel negated and disrespected and … well, somehow plain wrong. And we can come to believe what we offer the world is worthless.

I suspect I am particularly aware of this issue because I myself tend to talk a lot when in a one-on-one setting with someone. I have so many thoughts and ideas running around in my head I want to share that I know I can easily monopolise the conversation at times and even silence the other person. Yet often I am there to listen to them, not vice versa! Instead, I need to give them space, to honour who they are and, in general, to hear them well. I need to rein in my own desires and, instead, put the other person first.

I have always found what James says about listening very challenging.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry … James 1:19 NIV

As for the following verse from two different versions … ouch!

To answer before listening is foolish and shameful. Proverbs 18:13 NIRV

Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. Proverbs 18:13The Message

I don’t want to be stupid or rude when talking with others, do you? And I don’t want to feel ashamed either of my own self-centredness. So … let’s listen to others more. And let’s listen so well!

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Jo 17I wonder if you can recall a time when you watched something disastrous unfold in front of you that you were powerless to stop. Such moments can feel quite surreal—as if we and those involved are momentarily suspended somewhere outside of time in another world.

A few weeks ago, I decided to drive to our nearby Bunnings store one morning, just after the school rush. I was almost there—I could see the entrance on my right as I sat behind another car that was also waiting to turn into the car park. A small, white van was approaching from the opposite direction, so of course we had to wait for it to pass. And that was when the most bizarre thing happened. Instead of driving on down the road, that white van veered slightly, headed straight for a big concrete post outside Bunnings and ended up a crumpled mess!

I exclaimed out loud, as I watched this disaster unfold—and there we all sat for what seemed like an eternity. No one got out of that wrecked car that was now firmly wrapped around the cement post—and the driver in front of me did not move either. After a while, I began to wonder if I should edge around this other car, find a park and see if the driver in the accident needed help. Then, just as the car in front of me finally moved, a man emerged from the wrecked van. But I was worried—this man was holding his chest as he leant on his car and looked at his wrecked vehicle.

I had no choice but to get off the road and park—but what to do next? I have no great medical knowledge, so I decided to run and tell a Bunnings staff member what had happened. She immediately called the store manager, who headed to the accident scene. So, still feeling concerned but also redundant, I proceeded on with my shopping.

When I had finished, I discovered the ambulance, police and fire brigade had arrived—but they could not find the driver anywhere! Had he taken himself off home or to a nearby house? Perhaps he did not have a licence—or perhaps he was too dazed and had wandered off. The only thing I could be sure of was that when this man had set out that morning, he would never have expected to end up wrapped around a post.

Later, I realised that, if that car had have swerved the other way, either I or the driver in front of me could have been injured or worse. We do not know, do we, as we wake up each day, what will actually happen? As James writes:

Now listen, you who say, “Tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:13-14

Let’s not live each day in fear, afraid to step out and do what God has for us to do. But let’s also be ready for that moment when we will meet our Lord face to face, wherever and however it comes.

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