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Can You Repeat That?

Change is a dance with two steps: admission and action. Yeah I know has to be followed up with a Yeah I will.


My mornings generally start with a regular routine. A shower, a shave and a cup of good

coffee are the first of numerous activities. I added something to my morning drill in December 2019: inserting my hearing aids.

Yeah I know – I had my first hearing test several years before, which confirmed that I had a problem. But I was focused more on the cause of my hearing loss, convinced that I didn’t have the typical nerve damage in the inner ear. But efforts to confirm my suspicions were either fruitless or financially impossible.

Thus, I skipped the second move of the dance – Yeah I will for years. The deeper issue was my pride. I didn’t like to remind myself daily that I have a problem, let alone broadcast it to everyone by hanging devices on my ears.


So, I settled into a routine of being an equal-opportunity annoyer of my family, co-workers, and friends by muttering this refrain over and over: Can you repeat that?

The final impetus for me to get hearing aids came after a summer backpack trip with our son Ben and my brother Doug. They never complained once during the five-day, thirty-five-mile trek, but I learned later that they grew weary of accommodating my requests to turn to me and repeat their statements.

I finally made the change, and now I do the dance every day. Yeah, I know I have a hearing problem; Yeah, I’m doing something about it – and sometimes that means turning up the frequency in certain situations.


Each morning I insert my hearing aids for three reasons. First, the obvious. I want to hear better. Missing out on portions of conversations is frustrating and often embarrassing.


But it’s not only for me. I want to honor those who have made the effort to speak to me. That means doing what I can to stop saying can you repeat that?


The third is the reason I’ve written this article. Five years ago, I began the practice of adopting a word or a phrase for the year. When I picked up my hearing aids in December 2019, I knew my word for 2020: Listen.


I’ve long needed to improve the way I listen to people – which is about much more than the transmissions that my ears and hearing aids receive and transfer to my brain. Husband, Father, Grandpa, Pastor, Chaplain, Friend, Neighbor, Customer – in all my life roles, I want to be peacefully and attentively present in conversations. Listening with my ears, of course, but also with my mind and heart.


But there’s another dynamic to listening that drove my decision. More than fifty years ago I made a pledge to walk with Jesus, and most of the time I’ve tried to follow him. And yet … I still pause when I read Jesus’ declaration: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)


My prayer is that I would grow in my ability to hear the voice of Jesus among and sometimes above the chorus of exclamations and explanations that bombard me. I need to hear the voice of Jesus to follow him.


But I also recognize that although I seek his wisdom and his guidance, in many situations he’s already told me what to do in his written word, the Bible. In other words, God’s been hearing my annoying refrain also: can you repeat that?


I’m convinced that the Bible is the spiritual equivalent to hearing aids. Don’t misunderstand me: the Bible is not our God. But when we humbly come to the Good Shepherd, ready and willing to hear him speak through his word, leaning in closer to hear him and to know him better – he smiles and reveals a little more of himself to us.


Since you’re reading this, it’s quite possible that, like me, have accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow Him on the path of life. How well are you listening to God? Have you been doing the two-step dance of change?


Yeah I knowDo you have a hearing problem? (Psst – If you think you don’t, then you’re probably fooling yourself).


Yeah I willWhat are you doing regularly to hear God better? How does that show up in your weekly rhythm?


Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home! For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But those who miss me injure themselves. Proverbs 8:34-36


Benediction of Blessing

May God help you to be a good listener.

May your desire to hear the voice of your Shepherd continue to grow.

May God help you discover some creative ways for you to become more familiar with the Bible, and to hear his word to you within its pages.