To Pay Attention
Attention is quite expensive in our world today.
With the things that call for our notice, our acknowledgement, growing every day it's harder and harder to put ourselves in the place of paying attention.
We are the age of multitasking, though there is significant research that says multitasking doesn't exist. We're rapid switchers, not multitaskers, flittering like moths from one light to the other.
I'm not coming down on the tech advantages we have - frankly the fact that via social media I can show everyone what I'm having for dinner has added years to my life. (chuckle)
You do have to wonder, however, what toll this multi-switching has on our soul. Soren Kierkegaard famously said "Purity of heart is to will one thing" and I wonder what ol' Soren would make of our split wills - searching in every direction, like shifting shadows in the playground of a God who pays a single focus to that which is most important.
The art of paying attention is an issue of seeing - seeing reality, seeing possible future movements, and more than that seeing the presence of God.
Many of our personal, relational, and professional issues can be related to impaired vision due to inattention:
When we experience a co-worker acting out aggressively without understanding their impending divorce due to alcoholism.
When we are frustrated at our children because they aren't motivated but we can't see the times that we've hindered or criticized their efforts unfairly.
When we see nothing but darkness, death and despair without realizing how utterly equipped God is to provide for us even in the midst of suffering.
I want to propose an experiment for this week - see what you think. During the course of the next 5 days (Monday through Friday), every time you go to check your phone, click onto social media, or turn on the television, simply stop and ask this question:
God, where are you working right now?
Or, if you are in an argument or confrontation, take a deep breath and count to 10 while saying:
God, show me the truth about this situation.
I believe that Jesus' promise that we "will know the truth, and the truth will set us free" (see John 8) is the news we need to hear today, and that truth comes with all speed and goodness when we learn to pay attention to God in the minor scenes of our major days.