Grant Swank
The gift of listening
By Grant Swank
October 9, 2010

At the Bible study was a young man who looked athletic, energized and open to talk. So I asked him his name and where he lived.

Before long, we were in lively conversation.

It turned out that he had a past filled with ups and downs, mostly downs. And at that present time he was dealing with lack of funds, a fifteen year old son giving him trouble, and his new soul in Christ.

He had come from a church family; but there had been times when his own father drank took much. In fact, it had come to the point that his mother had warned his father that if he did not get hold of himself, she was going to see to it that he was absented from her life. Thankfully, the father came to Christ, got grounded and went on being a decent person.

Now this man in the Bible study was faced with his own drinking problem. And add to that some cocaine and heroin. There were sexual escapades as well.

However, in the past several weeks he had returned to church, even to the mid-week Bible study. And so he was trying earnestly to get evened out.

"I take it that you don't live with your wife and that your son lives with her," I posited. He stated that that was true. Therefore, he had son visiting him on weekends.

"I have a basement apartment. I've made a room there for my son. It is a pleasant place. But all he wants to talk about are his videos and texting and things like that. I can't seem to get through to him."

I could relate to that. I had a son who at one time had leveled the same against me.

"I went to hug my son," the man stated. "But he pulled away from me. He did not want me to touch him."

"Don't you think that your boy is saying to himself, 'Why should Dad want to hug me now? Where was he when I was ten and eleven? He wasn't there for hugging me then,'" I offered.

He nodded in agreement.

"It takes some time to gain that boy's trust. It won't happen over night. And especially since he is in his mid-teens, there's going to be an interesting journey ahead for you and him, one that may not be always to your liking."

We continued to chat. Then we prayed. As I finished my prayer, we opened our eyes. There stood a father with tears in his eyes. They spoke volumes. With that, he leaned over to hug me.

I was old enough to be his father. I counted it a privilege that he felt some solace in embracing a fellow believer who could be a father stand-in for that evening.

As I left him to drive out-of-state to my home, I kept lifting him in prayer to the Lord. And in that drive, I was circled with the peace that comes by attempting to help someone else on life's way.

I also thought about the gift of listening and wondered why we don't use it more often.

© Grant Swank


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Grant Swank

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is a pastor at New Hope Church in Windham, Maine... (more)

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