James 1:19-20 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
I believe that listening is an art form. I should clarify. I believe that the listening James is speaking of is the ability to listen to other people, not our favorite song. It is so very difficult to master. The primary reason listening it is so difficult is because we constantly hear one voice virtually non-stop, our own. In order to truly listen we have to turn down the volume of our own voice and that takes practice. Truly listening, as Pastor has said, requires us to use not only our ears, but our eyes, and heart. Choosing to listen may not only provide us with a learning opportunity but it may also keep us out of trouble.
This passage reminds me of a heated discussion I had with my Dad when I was sixteen. I worked after school and earned enough to by a little car. Cool right? But there was a catch, one that I knew about going in but so wanted that car and so wanted to drive that I agreed to it. The catch was I would be placed on the family auto insurance plan, which was much less expensive than if I bought it on my own, but still pretty high because of my age. My Dad agreed to absorb half of my insurance premium as long as I dutifully did my part. I did not. I hated paying that insurance. It seemed like such a waste to me. Time and time again my Dad and I would have a heated discussion because I was delinquent on my part of the insurance. No matter how much my Dad tried to explain and teach me responsibility and accountability I rejected it as unfair and mean.
The process came to a head when I came home from work one payday and found the insurance bill taped to the door of my room. Dad had written my portion of the bill out in red ink and also put a note saying if I couldn’t afford the insurance I couldn’t afford the car. I was furious. In a rage I pulled the money from my wallet and found my father eating diner. I slammed the money on the kitchen table causing everything on it to jump up a couple of inches and crash back down. In a huff I jumped into my car and pealed out of the driveway headed for a friend’s house to cool off. I didn’t make. Less than a mile from my house a fifteen year old with a learner’s permit, being taught to drive by her grandfather, T-boned me at a busy intersection.
Everyone was Ok except for a few cuts and scrapes but my car was a complete mess. Since it was a busy intersection a small crowd gathered. A friend of mine stopped and offered to be a witness for me if I needed one. The police came out and took statements and in the midst of all this commotion I noticed a familiar face in the small crowd, my Dad. When our eyes met in an instant I understood everything and felt so ashamed for how I had acted and treated him. He smiled that little crook smile of his and said don’t worry son, your insured.
Heavenly FATHER thank you so much for providing us with the coverage we need each and every day of our lives. Teach us LORD how to shut up and listen, learn, love. In CHRIST name we pray. Amen