“My people, Israel, if only you would listen and do as I say!
~Psalm 81:13, CEV
Listening is the most sincere form of respect.
As I was reading Psalm 81 yesterday, verse 13 caught my attention. What if Israel had listened to God’s instructions and followed them? Think about it; where would the tiny nation of Israel be had they been obedient? I have no doubt, they would be the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth. The U.S. would pale in comparison but they refused to listen. Think about all the blessings they missed due to their hardheaded and stubborn ways. But I didn’t stop with Israel’s sins, I began thinking about my own: where would I be had I been obedient, had I listened attentively? How many blessings have I missed simply because I was not paying attention. Listening has never been my strength. A friend reminded me just this past week that God gave me two ears and one mouth: he said, “You know what that means don’t you?” I said, “Yes, it means I am to listen twice as much as I talk,” but we all know that doesn’t happen. Listening is underrated: it is very important in almost every aspect of life. Do you want to be a good spouse: learn to listen lovingly. Do you want to be a good friend: listen sympathetically. If you are going to be a good counselor, you must listen carefully. Do you wanted to be a good disciple, listen prayerfully; and it you want to be a good diplomat, listen respectfully. Learning to listen is a valuable tool.
Since listening is a weakness for me; I have to discipline myself which means following certain rules. One of my rules is to take notes. You would be surprised how much you can learn by listening attentively. From the perspective of being the speaker, I know that most folks aren’t really listening. If I make a mistake, they would catch it but they are not listening to the message. Rebellion over time creates an outer shell, nothing can penetrate this hard exterior. Like a nut, they need to be cracked or broken. The proud refuse to listen, the broken are good listeners.
I don’t know if it is normal but I battle regrets and I have a bunch. Unfortunately for me, they are bad to wake me up in the morning. Sometimes they get me up early. One of my deepest regrets is “Not listening.” I didn’t listen to my father, my earthly father. I thought I knew more than him. I didn’t think it could be possible that he could know more than myself. I was a fool. I should have listened. He was not a road scholar; he could barely read but he was much further down the road of life and he knew what was ahead. He tried to warn me about a lot of things but I refused to listen. I am blessed to have what I have but if I had only listened, I would have a lot more. The proud don’t see nor do they listen.
Yesterday was Joe David’s 43rd birthday. He is the only surviving 3rd generation Bailey [going back to Eugene]. His cousins are mostly girls. Ty is the only 4th generation Bailey going back to daddy. If we go back to Joe David’s name sake [my granddaddy, pictured on the left], Ty is one of two 5th generation Bailey’s. My granddaddy Joe David had 26 grandchildren if my math is right and nine were boys but there were only four Bailey boys in the next generation and now it is down to two. Who cares, right? I do, I just wanted to see if you could be an active listener. By the way, please do not believe everything my kids say or post on Facebook. They make it sound like I was a tyrant. According to them, I would be arrested for child abuse these days. Sister is prone to over use the hyperbole.
It’s still March and still cold late in the evening. I was at Ty’s game last night when the sun went down and the cold caused by bad knee to ache. I believe it is the first time I’ve ever felt the cold incite my arthritis. It made me feel for folks like Roger who have it much worse than myself.