John Certalic -
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! - Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)
One day when our twin grandsons were still toddlers, Janet and I were babysitting them in our home when they taught me an important lesson about listening.
Hey George, bring down that red tractor we were playing with,” Grant shouted up the stairs to his brother.
“Sure Grant, here you go,“ George replied with a big smile as he threw the metal toy down the stairs for Grant to catch. But the toss was off target and hit Grant in the shoulder, which must have hurt, based on the outburst that ensued. Shaking his raised fist at his brother, fire shot out from Grant’s eyes as he yelled up the stairs with every vindictive his 4-year-old vocabulary could muster. It looked like a scene from the Bolshevik Revolution. George responded in kind with his own tear-filled defense of the attack on his character. Arms flaying in the air, both boys were clearly out of control.
I stood next to George at the top of the stairs, managing to defuse Grant’s anger from my perch as he stormed out of the living room. It freed me to attend to George who continued to yell back at his brother no longer in view. Trying to calm him, I sat down on the top step where George was standing.
Now face to face, looking each other in the eye, I told him it was okay, that he just made a mistake, and I knew he didn’t intend to hurt his brother. But he was inconsolable. All I could do was listen. Finally, he threw his arms around my neck, squeezing it as hard as he could crying, “Please don’t tell mommy. Please don’t tell her.”
From this I learned that by getting down to eye level with kids it’s easier to listen to what is going on in their hearts. And so often what is going on is fear (it’s the root of most misbehavior in children, but that’s a story for another time.) George wasn’t as afraid of how he hurt his brother as he was of the possibility that Grant’s attack on his character might be true.
Likewise, the writer of Psalm 116 had his own adult fears. What gets him through it is knowing God bends down to listen to him. The more we come to know God and how he listens to us, the more peace and calm we’ll find in the midst of our fears. Read the psalm and you’ll see what I mean.