It was the balmy afternoon of Easter Monday when my wife, older daughter and I enjoyed a very pleasant Barbecue lunch and some refreshing cool drinks.
The day was still and warm, and the beachside picnic area saw many families doing the same thing. There were joggers, bike riders, people strolling along the oceanfront walkway (sometimes pushing children on small bikes with trainer-wheels), and ball games were being played.
A thoroughly enjoyable few hours. The signposted parking restriction read: 2 hours, and the parking police were reputedly strict and unforgiving. Over stay your time at your peril.
The two hour limit was drawing nigh and it was time to move the car. ‘Can you go and move it’ Jan asked? Probably not a good idea as I had had a couple of alcoholic drinks, so off went mother and daughter to do so.
The wrong place
Gone for what seemed like ages. Where on earth are they? Ahh! At last. All’s well. The afternoon continued without incident and finally it was time to go.
‘I’ll take the fold-up chairs [bulky, heavy] as I go and they’ll be packed into the boot (trunk) when you girls arrive’ said I.
In a flash came one of those male/female moments
Where’s the car? ‘Opposite McDonalds’, I heard. Okay. Off I trudged with a sizeable fold-up chair under each arm towards the looong carpark about a 1/3 of a kilometre away opposite McDonalds.
Having walked the length of same with chairs and not having spotted the car, I walked 1/2 way back, opened both chairs beside the walkway and waited a while for Jan and daughter to arrive. They didn’t.
Must have missed seeing the car. Back up to the far end leaving the chairs forlornly unattended by themselves and walked between the rows. It must be here. Up to the end nearest to where we had been. Still no car.
I started back towards the chairs when distantly I heard my name faintly called. Three times Jan had rushed up to the other end of the shopping centre looking for me. Together they were diligently searching whilst carelessly I had gotten myself lost! Where had I been?
As a mobile/cell phone was not going to be needed on a nice afternoon lunch together, regrettably I didn’t take mine with us.
So Jan and I walked to the chairs which were still happily sitting there by themselves carelessly minding their own business watching the passing parade of afternoon dawdlers. Huffingly and puffingly we each scooped up a chair and headed for the car in company (by this time) with our daughter.
That’s what we told you!
The car was parked ‘opposite’ McDonalds (sort of) in the next street. THE NEXT STREET! ’OPPOSITE’ McDonalds ’Well that’s what we told you’. Really? As we were packing everything into the boot, my daughter said: ‘sorry Dad’.
Then and there I knew one of two things had to happen. Either I needed to brush up on my mind-reading skills or I had to make an appointment with the audiologist for a hearing check. Or…did I simply not listen but rather just heard her voice?
Don’t just hear: listen
Wives don’t say to their husbands: ‘Gavin, you just don’t hear’. They say: ‘Gavin, you just don’t listen’. Walking through a shopping mall or sitting in a restaurant, we hear the soothing background music but don’t really listen to it.
As always, Jesus chose His words carefully when He said to those He had sent out to the nearby villages:
If any place will not…’listen’ to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave as a testimony against them. (Mark chapter 6 verse 11). Although King Herod “feared” John the Baptist, he liked to “listen” to him. (ch 6 v 20).
Difficult as this was for me (sometimes half-listening, perhaps sometimes not putting into practice James chapter 1 verse 19 that: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry), to have done other than gently accept that ‘all’s well that ends well’ would have badly jarred an otherwise nice afternoon.
God warns: A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15 verse 1).
So we headed home, a calm end to a very enjoyable lunch.
Where else but in the book of wisdom would we expect to find God say to us: My son, pay attention to what I say; listen ‘closely’ to My words? (Proverbs chapter 4 verse 20). Be ‘very’ careful: listen ‘closely’. Interesting isn’t it that God emphasises being very careful ‘how’ we live (Ephesians chapter 5 verse 15), which includes listening closely?
The Roman centurion stood in front of Jesus as our LORD agonisingly hung on that tortuous cross. When he heard Jesus’ cry and saw “how” He died, discerningly he said: Surely this man was the Son of God. (Mark chapter 15 verse 39).
If we listen to His voice: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John chapter 8 verse 32). The truth about what? LIFE.
Gavin Lawrie is a retired Barrister and Solicitor from Tweed Heads NSW Australia and author of the book: 'THE EVIDENCE OF EVOLUTION: Uncovering The Faulty Science Of Dawkins' Attack On Creationism'. He is married to Jan, has two adult children and they are grandparents.
Gavin Lawrie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/gavin-lawrie.html