rote“So, the grandkids are coming over Sunday night?” It was a rhetorical question and a recap of the conversation my husband and I had ten minutes earlier; the one about the grandkids coming on SATURDAY night.

 “Are you serious?” The irritation in my voice coupled with a piercing glare clearly indicated this question annoyed me.

And why wouldn’t it? Our conversation about the grandkids had fully covered all the details, but it was now apparent his focus had been on the Master’s Golf Tournament and not me. My words had fallen on deaf ears; my husband’s rote responses had been appropriate and perfectly timed.

I’m sure Jesus has encountered these same rote conversations with us. In our preoccupation with the busyness of life, we often fail to listen and our conversations with God become one-sided. We hear what we want to hear and dismiss the rest.

“…a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest…”
The Boxer Lyrics/Simon & Garfunkel

Consider the number of times you have turned to someone and asked, “Were you talking to me?” They look at you in disbelief and their facial expressions alone confirm the truth; yes, they were talking to you but you weren’t listening.

A self-absorbed lifestyle cripples us to the needs of others and we listen to their conversations by rote. Then, there are instances we listen by rote because the person talking has nothing substantial to share but idle chatter.

My grandma was a professional chatterer. The only way to survive her continual chatter was to acquire rote listening skills, which my grandpa did.  After 50-plus years of marriage, grandpa could have authored a best-seller book titled, Surviving Idle Chatter.

No one wants to listen to idle chatter. If we desire to capture the attention of our listener, we must have something of value to share.  If not, we get tuned out and the listening channel is changed to rote; or in my case, the Master’s Golf channel. Make no mistake, God is not a God of idle chatter. When you talk to God, be ready to listen. When he talks with you, turn off the rote remote.

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