Community News

Spiritual Matters – Rev Chris Sparks

Sorry! I wasn’t really listening

“My wife complained that I don’t listen” a guy confided to his friend. Then added: “At least, I think that’s what she said!”
Communication experts say that the average woman speaks over 25,000 words a day while the average man speaks only a little over 10,000. So, men have to do a whole lot more listening than women – and they may lose some focus in the process!
That aside, communication is a foundational block of all societies – human and animal. To survive and thrive, good communication is vital. In many job advertisements, good communication skills are listed as an essential requirement. And one can be certain that every applicant will profess their competence.
One of my tasks last week was to run a coach service from Grafton to Sydney to replace a cancelled XPT train. Our paperwork specified that the coach return to Grafton empty – that we were not required for a return journey the next day. So, after a good night’s sleep, and in conformity with log-book rules, I left Central Railway at 8.30am.
It was a pleasure heading north in beautiful sunny weather. I felt fresh and relaxed, so bypassed a couple of service centers that we often use for breakfast stops, pulling up at Bulahdelah after three-and-a-half hours for a coffee and a bite to eat.
My phone rang. The railways had been expecting me to pick up passengers at Central Railway for Grafton at 11am. The upshot of this development was that I was asked if I was prepared to back-track to Newcastle – an hour-and-a-half away – and wait for the Sydney passengers to arrive on another coach. I agreed, and duly set a southerly course for Broadmeadow.
Upon arrival, it was another hour before the Sydney coach turned up and I was able to load my passengers and run the remainder of the trip to Grafton – logging off at 11pm after a little over 11 hours driving.
The problem was a simple one. While NSW Trains management get together at the start of each day to determine work assignments for different teams, once the meeting finishes, the teams no longer communicate with each other – and mistakes and misunderstandings inevitably follow! And this was by no means an isolated incident.
Effective communication is vital in so many areas of our lives. Let me re-state that. Effective communication is essential in EVERY area of our lives. And that includes the spiritual.
I think everyone is familiar with the way human beings communicate with their creator. We call it prayer, and as someone once said, “more things are wrought by prayer than this world ever dreams of”. (Perhaps it was my mother again!).
And that’s true. Just as the breakdown of communication between people – and especially husbands and wives – can lead to heartache, frustration and fractured relationships, so our failure to communicate with God is an inevitable cause of so many of the problems we experience in life. We really need to talk to – and listen to – God and heed his guidance and direction. In turn, he listens to us and acts in character to love and care for us as we would expect a father (and a heavenly father) to act graciously and lovingly toward his children.

That communication then, needs to be a two-way street. And that’s where the connection tends to break, for so many of us fail to manage it effectively from our end!