Don’t turn off that hear­ing aid

The Catoosa County News - - WORSHIP DIRECTORY - Bo Wag­ner

It is with the great­est of fond­ness that I quite of­ten think back on my grand­mother and grand­fa­ther. They have both been gone for some years now, and there are still days when I ache for their pres­ence.

My grand­mother was the spark plug of the fam­ily. An old-coun­try, old-school, laced up, mil­lion-mile-aminute dy­namo who spoke mul­ti­ple lan­guages and al­ways kept the fam­ily knit to­gether.

My grand­fa­ther was an­other story al­to­gether. Giddo (grand­fa­ther, when one is of Lebanese de­scent) was first and fore­most a cer­ti­fied ge­nius. Chess cham­pion, vo­ra­cious reader, college pro­fes­sor, pho­to­graphic mem­ory, the man was amaz­ing. And also very eas­ily bored. It is that last trait, his easy bore­dom, that caused many hi­lar­i­ous mo­ments in their home. You see, he was also a war vet­eran, and his ten­ure on the bat­tle­field had re­sulted in him be­ing ren­dered very nearly deaf. As such, my Giddo wore one of those old-fash­ioned, huge, prone-to-squeal hear­ing aids.

Un­der­stand­ably, most peo­ple would re­gard be­ing near-deaf and hav­ing to use a hear­ing aid as a very neg­a­tive thing. But for my grand­fa­ther it be­came a source of blessed peace. I re­mem­ber a great many times when the talk around the ta­ble, so riv­et­ing to spouse, chil­dren, and grand­chil­dren, be­came ut­terly ba­nal to a per­son of his men­tal acu­men. We would go on at great length, chat­ter­ing back and forth, and then some­one would ask him what he thought, or to chime in on the con­ver­sa­tion.

Giddo would merely con­tinue to look ahead, nod, and add the oc­ca­sional “uh huh... uh huh...” as if he was lis­ten­ing in­tently to all that was be­ing said.

The ta­ble would grow com­pletely silent. A sec­ond later we would hear it again, “uh huh... uh huh...”

My grand­mother’s face would get stiff, and a bit of anger would flash through her eyes.

“Turn your hear­ing aid back on!” She would shout at the top of her lungs.

My Giddo’s eyes would snap wide, he would reach down to his con­troller and roll the vol­ume back up, and he would sheep­ishly ask, “Yes, Mammy?”

The ta­ble would erupt in laugh­ter over him be­ing caught yet again tun­ing out what­ever it was he did not want to hear.

It was funny, then. Nowa­days, though, it is not nearly as funny, since it seems to be the bulk of so­ci­ety that is tun­ing out the things they do not want to hear. Rather than be­ing old and reach­ing for the hear­ing aids, though, they are young and sim­ply un­ac­cus­tomed to hav­ing to bear be­ing “trig­gered” by any­one or any­thing that dis­agrees with them.

Gen­e­sis 42:21-22 says, “And they said one to an­other, We are ver­ily guilty con­cern­ing our brother, in that we saw the an­guish of his soul, when he be­sought us, and we would not hear; there­fore is this dis­tress come upon us. And Reuben an­swered them, say­ing, Spake I not unto you, say­ing, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? there­fore, be­hold, also his blood is re­quired.”

Twice it is cor­rectly as­serted that they “would not hear.” It is not that they could not hear Joseph’s cries, it is that they had al­ready made up their minds on the is­sue, and had tuned him out. Just like college stu­dents pro­claim­ing a love of free speech yet ig­nor­ing the ut­ter hypocrisy of ban­ning or shout­ing down any­one with whom they dis­agree who is in­vited to ad­dress the stu­dent body. Just like proabor­tion­ists who do not want to hear that liv­ing ba­bies in the womb have their own DNA, a heart­beat, and feel pain. Just like modern so­cial­ists and com­mu­nists who refuse to study his­tory and see how badly their un­ten­able pet the­o­ries have con­sis­tently failed.

And, by the way, just like many church mem­bers who do not want any preacher, ever, to say any­thing neg­a­tive from the pul­pit. “Your best life now?” Bring it on, we are on the edge of our seats. “Re­pent of your sin?” Reach­ing for the dial, preacher, tun­ing you out...

With my Giddo, it was just funny. When a so­ci­ety reaches for the dial, it is ac­tu­ally dan­ger­ous.

Je­sus said “Let him who hath an ear, hear.”

Bo Wag­ner is pas­tor of Cor­ner­stone Bap­tist Church in Moores­boro, N.C. He is a widely trav­eled evan­ge­list and the au­thor of sev­eral books. He can be con­tacted by email at

Evan­ge­list and au­thor

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