Do you enjoy a good story? Have you ever met anyone who enjoys a good story? I have been thinking about all of the valuable things a person can learn from a good story and how rare it is these days for anyone to sit still long enough to listen to one! Much of my life has been spent listening to people who love to tell stories. Their stories tend to be about things that happened in their lives many years ago. Sometimes younger generations wonder what the purpose is in listening to these types of stories. The stories themselves tend to be long and depending on the story teller, they may be exaggerated! I see God in the listening no matter how long the story.
Some of my favorite stories came from my grandfather. He was an excellent story teller because he was truthful and his stories had a message. Most of the time they were about the trouble he got into as a kid and the lessons he learned. I enjoyed his stories so much that I would request that he tell certain ones over and over again even as an adult! His stories were often tools used by God to increase my faith. Grandpa was good at sharing stories that began with personal struggles and ended with God's faithfulness. If we are willing to listen to the stories of others who have walked with our Lord faithfully we have the opportunity to come away challenged and encouraged in our own walks.
Even as an adult I love a good story. My father in law has certain friends and relatives who tell the same stories over and over again and it drives him nuts. He has noticed that I enjoy these stories and began seating those prone to story telling near me at holiday dinners. For the most part I don't mind. There are times when a certain friend of his seems to be hitting the rewind button a little too often. He is ninety years old so I do my best to listen as if I were hearing the story for the first time. There are some stories that I find hard to listen to and fail to see any other purpose in the listening other than to love the story teller. My recent experience with this ninety year old friend of my father in law's shed some new light on purpose for me.
There are a few people who tell stories because they like to hear the sound of their voice and they think they are magnificent. I have only met one or two so far and I find their stories hard to listen to. I always thought I should listen anyway because God always listens to me no matter how wrong or long winded I am. This ninety year old friend of my father in law's that I have struggled to listen to through the years now has an illness. As I sat and discussed this illness with the man's care taker , I was able to help him see some things that were important in dealing with my elderly friend as the illness progresses. I would not have had these insights into the man and his personality if I had not listened to the stories. More importantly, through this conversation I have discovered an avenue through which to tell him about Christ that I would have missed had I not listened. Stories are important no matter how hard it is to listen.
Listening to a person's story is a way of loving them. When you listen to a person's story you get a glimpse into their heart. I can't help but think of how much we miss in this fast pace world of ours because we don't want to sit still long enough to listen. I know I can think of times when I missed an opportunity to love someone by listening. I wonder how many times I have also missed an opportunity to share Christ with someone because I was only listening out of politeness instead of listening for an opportunity or listening to get a glimpse of the heart of the story teller. How about you? Who do you need to love by listening? Will you join me as I try to be more attentive while listening to others stories?