Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do you Finish God's sentences?

Do you finish other people’s sentences?

Several years ago, following a Toastmasters meeting I visited with a local businessman and philanthropist, Joe, whom visited our club to promote a fund raiser. Joe told of attending Kansas State University’s world-renowned College of Veterinary Medicine.

When Joe began telling of his experiences in Manhattan, I began finishing his sentences whenever he paused as I knew exactly what he was going to say. Wrong!!! I did not know how Joe was finishing his sentences.

I normally do not engage in finishing someone’s sentences, however the excitement of discussing Manhattan and Kansas State got the better of me in that conversation. Moreover, his favorite professor of Vet Med was the father of two of my friends and high school cross country teammates.

The first few times of my interruption, Jim patiently stated, “No, I was going say…” Following my sixth repetition of rudely and inaccurately finishing sentences, Joe politely dismissed himself.

Are you irritated when others finish your sentences, especially when completed inaccurately? Have you ever finished someone’s sentences? Others tend to inaccurately finish my sentences when I pause, just as I did when Joe paused.

Instead of listening we jump to conclusions. Frequently, emotional irritation is the only damage. However, when continued, we lose credibility as a listener. Eventually we risk causing great damage to our relationships or suffering physical consequences.

Once in the summer of 1986, Jim and I were instructed to drive a farm truck to Fettger’s (the name of a farm) to meet my cousins where we would load straw bales. As soon as Jim and I heard “Fettger’s” we stopped listening because we knew exactly where the Fettger place was since we irrigated there every morning.

We jumped in the truck and drove the 12 miles on gravel roads to the Fettger place. During our drive we discussed that the wheat and resulting straw bales must be in the dry land portion of the property. Since we were only familiar with the irrigated portion of the property, we tried to hypothesize the specific location of wheat field on this farm. We were puzzled upon arrival because we saw no wheat nor a single person around this field.

Twenty minutes later we remained the only two at this location. We reassured ourselves that we were told to meet at the Fettger place. After thirty minutes passed and no two-way radio to communicate with the others--this was long before cell phones became popular--we drove back to the ‘yard’, which is the farmstead where my mom and her siblings were raised.

Once in the yard, we sheepishly began calling for direction on the two-way. My uncles were less than thrilled! We were told to go to a different, nearby Fettger place. Additionally, we were to have waited and followed my cousins to the specific field instead of taking off on our own. 

We wasted significant time, fuel, and energy along with generating enormous frustration at us. We finished the sentence of our directions; we failed to listen to the full instructions.

Do you finish God’s sentences? I have!

At times, I strongly believe God is giving me a specific message through reading the Bible and prayer, only to fail upon acting. I later realize I finished God’s sentence instead of listening to the entire message (non-audible). I inaccurately finish God’s messages when He pauses, or when I errantly believe that I know exactly what He is going to say. Unfortunately, I am wrong! His wisdom far exceeds my wisdom and your wisdom.

Perhaps you say, "But Lord, you told (non-audible) me to accept this promotion, this new job. Why am I miserable?" The Lord responds in your heart, "No, I told you to interview for the position." We say, "Lord, why am I unable to pay for my new car that you told me to buy?" He replies, "I instructed you to visit the dealership and test drive the new car."

God desires relationships with His people. Consequently, He often mercifully uses us to interact and develop relationships with others for His glory. These interactions may include interviewing for a position, testing a car, or any of the seemingly endless possibilities of interactions.

The primary purpose of an interview, test drive, meeting someone for coffee or lunch may range from the obvious of the occasion to us unknowingly providing the write words to those we meet, their positive impact on our lives, or all of the above along with other benefits.

The next time our Lord speaks to your heart: Listen! Listen through the pauses; listen to the entire sentence, paragraph, chapter and book. Listening to the entire message enables you and I to be fully in tune with our Savior and the Holy Spirit.

Ask in prayer and through studying scripture, "Lord, why did you arrange for me and someone else (others) to meet and interact at this juncture in time and location?"

Keep an open mind as you progress forward with the Lord's lead. Remember, God's wisdom far exceeds my wisdom, your wisdom, and the cumulative wisdom of all creation combined.

See Christ, Believe Christ, Achieve with Christ!

Rick E. Meyer
See, Believe, Achieve Inc.

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