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The Gift of Listening - Girlfriends in God - February 3, 2016

February 3, 2016
The Gift of Listening
Mary Southerland


Today’s Truth

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry(Psalm 10:17).

Friend to Friend

I did not want to get on that plane! I was tired – I mean bone-tired. My back was killing me. I was headed to my third speaking engagement that month, and what I really wanted to do was go home and spend time with my family. As I walked on the plane, I desperately prayed that I would sit by someone who did not want to talk – about anything. How is that for a godly prayer? Just keeping it real!

I avoided making eye contact with anyone. After finding my seat, I slid my briefcase under the seat in front of me, grabbed a magazine from the seat pocket, and pretended to read. When the stewardess began her safety speech, I glanced at the young man seated beside me. He was reading a book. Yes! I hoped it was a very long and very interesting book.

And then it happened. The invisible “Dump Here” sign on my forehead began to flash. The young man looked at me and asked, “Where are you going?” I gave him a halfhearted smile and said, “To Houston” and went back to my magazine while he went back to his book. Whew! I know. I can be such a selfish spiritual brat.

Only moments passed before the young man asked what I was going to do in Houston. I groaned inside and hoped it would soon end, knowing it probably wouldn’t.

After sharing that I was headed to Houston to speak for a women’s conference, the young man said, “Well, I’ve been flying all day from Alaska trying to get to Oklahoma City.” At this point, I knew there was no point in trying to avoid the inevitable. "What is in Oklahoma City?" I asked. "My wife,” he responded. “We’ve been separated for three years, but I’m hoping we can get back together.” As tears filled his eyes, I heard the Father say, "I know you are tired, child, but I need you to minister to this broken lamb." 

I surrendered.

For an hour and a half, I listened as Chris poured out his heart, his struggles, and his hopes and fears. I shared God's love for him and God’s plan for marriage. It really was a God-thing.

When the plane landed, I grabbed my briefcase and stood up. As I glanced around, I saw dozens of passengers watching me. Evidently my sharing had escalated to more of a sermon, and they were waiting for the conclusion. Chris said, "Thank you so much. I just think that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay." 

I could not help myself.

With fervor and passion, I blurted out, "No! Do not settle for anything less than God's best, Chris! Marriage is God's idea. He wants to restore your marriage. Do. Not. Settle. Okay?" He smiled and said, "Okay! Will you pray for us?" I hugged him and promised to pray for him, his wife, and their marriage.

As I walked off the plane and down the jet way, I thanked God that I had taken the time to listen.

In our culture of constant contact through technology, it is easy for our attention to be divided. We may be physically present but mentally absent. If we want to bless others and be used by God to change lives, we must learn to give the gift of listening. 

Let’s Pray

Father, forgive me for the times I could have made a difference in the life of someone who was hurting, but didn’t because I was too busy or just didn’t care enough. Teach me to recognize the wounded hearts You send my way, and then help me take the time to listen. Lord, I want to serve You by serving others.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Think back to a time when you were hurting or in pain. Was there someone who listened to you as you poured out that pain? Was it helpful to have someone who simply listened to you? In what way(s)?

  • What keeps you from recognizing the need in others and then reaching out to meet that need?
  • Think back to a time when someone reached out to you. What was your response? How did their action change your life?
  • What difference can an awareness of hurting people make in your daily walk?  Identify one person in need today and look for a specific and timely way to meet that need.

More from the Girlfriends

I am so excited to announce the launch of Friends for the Journeya dream I have had for some time that is now a reality and part of my ministry. If you are a pastor’s wife, a women’s ministry director, a woman in need of encouragement, or someone who battles depression, I am now available to encourage and coach you via Skype sessions. You can find all of the information on my website or you can email me for details.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

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