Sunday, September 02, 2018

Friendship – Lending a Listening Ear

Are you a ‘Facebooker’ or ‘Twitter tweeter’? Both or neither?

Invitations come from people known and unknown to me, as they likely do you, requesting me to join them on Facebook and other online networks. It’s really nice. I confess: my friends and online ‘would-be’ friends might not appreciate my lack of response to their posts and friend requests, though. (Hey, perhaps you’re among them. My apologies.)

Our last visit with May's sister Barbara
in Scotland. She died shortly after. 
My wife May and I have numerous relatives and friends in Canada and abroad. She keeps in touch with many of them online in our behalf. I have personal friends and good acquaintances at points across this country. And yet, it’s people who are in geographical and physical proximity who more often gain my attention and time. Consequently, during the past two years I’ve cut way back on online networking.

Have I retreated into an unsociable shell? No. Rather, I’m connecting with various people around me and over time have assumed area commitments, and of necessity am relegating cyberspace involvements to a smaller corner of life, for now.

A town near Glasgow
I snapped this coffee shop moment of 
May with my eldest sister Chris and 
bro-in-law Norman who, in their eighties 
share friendship and hospitality with people 
of all ages, in Jesus' name.
My intention isn’t to be unfriendly. However, the folks with whom I engage in these face-to-face, ‘flesh-and-blood’ encounters are near at hand, in my ‘hood.’ They’re currently part of my life—and our lives, since my wife also shares in certain of these connections.

For example: Dwayne,* a senior gentleman, chats with us in the coffee shop. His wife’s in nursing care forty-five kilometres away and is drifting further and further from him and deeper into dementia. Mindy, an octogenarian widowed friend, invites us round to her place for tea. I’m a talker, but I can listen, too. Fact is, most everyone likes to be heard. These folks like to talk face-to-face and know that someone is listening.

And then, there’s our friends, Frank and Sheila, also seniors, who, although having no kids or grandkids, politely listen when we and other folk proudly share our kid and grandkid stories. And there’s the guy who doesn’t claim to be a Christian but gets hyped up about religion, government and what’s going on in the world. Others shoulder some pretty heavy burdens. These all appreciate a little time spent with them. 

Biblical wisdom says that those who want to have friends must themselves demonstrate friendship (Ref. Proverbs 18:24). When you and I invest in friendship let’s do so with sincerity and in behalf of Jesus our Lord, who invested His life in humanity and gave Himself up to the death of the cross to reconcile us to God and restore our relationship with Him.

And so, whether our friendly connections are carried through cyberspace, or occur across a room or only inches apart on the other side of a table, may the life and grace of Jesus flow, and may people be brought into His saving grace.

Thanks for lending me your listening ear. I feel better already!


* All names except my wife’s and those in the photo captions have been changed for privacy.


Peter A. Black is a retired pastor – well, sort of retired – and lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond – a children's / family book. ~~+~~


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter for the reminder to be friends with those around us physically, as well as those we communicate with on line. It sounds like you are doing a great job of sharing His love where you are. I know you do so well with all of us in the Word Guild team. Have a great day! Warm regards,

Peter Black said...

Thank you for your generous thoughts, Eleanor. It's a joy to read about your heritage in the faith and your continuing service of ministering to others in the Gospel of our Lord.
I think that posts by our colleagues in this space do generally reflect a deep commitment to His call upon their lives. ~~+~~

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