Don’t turn off that hearing aid
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evangelist and author