What if God gave us the gift of reading people's innermost thoughts? This is the question bestselling author Terri Blackstock tackles in THE LISTENER, a slim, motivational novella originally published in 2000 as THE HEART READER by "Anonymous." Unlike some of Blackstock's other fiction, this story will be appreciated more for its instructional possibilities than its entertainment value.
Sam Bennett is vice-president of Simpson Advertising and living a pretty good Christian life --- or so he thinks. He goes through the motions of church, work, and family without making too many waves. One night, Sam dreams about a woman searching for a lost coin. When he awakes, Sam discovers he has been given an unusual gift: He hears the unspoken innermost thoughts of people he comes in contact with.
Think about it for a minute. It might sound like a wonderful gift --- you know the needs of everyone you come into contact with! But as Blackstock adeptly portrays, this gift is no picnic. Suddenly, Sam is bombarded with the innermost thoughts of his wife, the people he rubs elbows with on the street, those at adjoining tables in the diner he frequents, his boss, his clients, his secretary. Thoughts like these:
"I can't stand my life anymore. My tunnel's so dark and so long that it's already swallowed up all the light." --- Sam's boss, Rob Simpson.
"A little rest could change my whole life." --- Janie, the waitress at the diner.
"I am my past. I'll always be what he turned me into. I'll never escape it." --- a woman waiting to cross the street.
"Wish I's a real person." --- Jimmy, a Down Syndrome elevator operator.
"If I could just have more than a ten minute conversation... have somebody really listen... be heard..." --- a customer in the diner.
All of these people, Sam discovers, have a deep, aching void that he knows only Christ can fill. But Sam never has been much for evangelism. How can he help people he knows --- as well as complete strangers --- learn about Christ? An