I just wanted to get in and out. The store down the road was so convenient, specially for running in after supper for a quick dessert. It was getting late. I was looking forward to finishing the evening chores and getting rest. I headed straight for the produce and knew exactly what I wanted.
Then I saw him and heard it. He was standing next to the bananas. He looked about 75-80. I heard the word, “Listen!” – The voice started out as a this tiny nagging in the back of my mind. “Listen!” – I could sense his intention to start a conversation but tried to focus on my task. By now it seemed impossible to ignore what I was hearing. It was no longer in the back of my mind but right there, “LISTEN!”
“Do you know why I buy green bananas?” Quite frankly, I didn’t care at that particular moment about the reasons. I am sure they were good ones. “I buy them because they can ripe while we eat the ones that are yellow!” “LISTEN!” there it was again.
So many times I ask God to speak to me. Often, I try to meander through the jungle of decisions in life and wonder why I can’t hear God speak. I wonder why God can’t send me an email or a carrier pigeon with answers to my quandaries. Here He was trying to speak to me – right into my business.
I looked up. The man’s kind smile came from behind a soft gray beard. His glasses were big and it looked like he had tried to fix them himself and were held together with tape. “I am trying to find things my wife can eat. You know, she had a stroke.” I couldn’t help but see his kind face, somehow sad now.
He proceeded to tell me how he was taking care of his wife. They had been married for a long time. His voice reflected loyalty and love, and sadness. He talked about how his wife had been trying to secretly throw out the medication she was suppose to take. He talked about his kids and grandchildren. The minutes started to tick away. That was fine.
“Maybe she does not want to be here anymore?” I heard myself say to him. He agreed and I proceeded to ask him if he had praying folks in his life? We spoke of church and how he had been disappointed with those who were suppose to tend his soul. Religion had left him with an ugly scar. “But Jesus is not at all like that!” I replied. We agreed that mankind often makes things difficult. Jesus didn’t. He kept things simple. Love. Kindness. Patience. Yes, and listening. He knew how to do that.
We parted our ways after I asked him for his name. James. I told him that I would pray for him and his wife. Then, before I headed to checkout, he said: “I believe God had us both here for a reason today!” I couldn’t have agreed more. He did. Sometimes ins and outs take a little longer. I wept on the way home mostly about my stubborn ways and inability to listen.
(Funny, I have run into James many different times now. One time I was taking pictures of a sunset at the beach. He sat there and was watching it. We talked for a while that evening. His wife has passed away since.)