Encouragement From The Word

Pay Attention

“Pay attention.”  We’re told that from the time our parents start talking to us.

We’re told it by teachers in school, by police officers who approach us at traffic stops, by spouses who think we’re not listening, by nurses who want us to take our pills.

Our whole lives, we hear, “Pay attention.”

Yet, so often in life, we fail to do so – especially around truly important matters that might not seem so at the time.

Yesterday, an elder in my congregation was travelling just outside town, when she saw an ambulance turn down a familiar sideroad.  And something told her she should follow it.

Now, this elder is not given to following ambulances; she’d have nothing to gain by doing so, and didn’t have medical training to be able to help.  But there was this nudge inside her, and she paid attention.

As it turns out, the ambulance was going to the home of a fellow congregant.

She followed the ambulance into the driveway, and got out to comfort the spouse of the person who was being treated.

To say the least, this would have been an awkward thing to have done had she not had a relationship with the people involved, and she had no idea where the ambulance was going when she started following it.  But there was this nudge…so she did, and was able to minister to the spouse.

The good news is that the individual was taken to hospital, was treated, released, and is recovering at home.

If you’ve ever had to call 911 for a member of your household and seen that person carted away in an ambulance, you know how helpless you feel.  This would only be compounded by being alone, waiting for information about your loved one.

So imagine how wonderful it must have been for the person comforted by the woman who followed the ambulance, because of this nudge to which she paid attention.

Most often, when we are driving somewhere, we have someplace to go, and usually on a schedule.  Even if we feel a nudge, we tend to ignore it because we have someplace to go and a timetable to follow.

What if we were to make room in our schedules – some margin, if you will – so that when we feel those nudges, we can pay attention to them and act?

It may not be something so dramatic as following an ambulance.  It could be something as simple as making a phone call, or writing a card, or saying the right words at the right time to a loved one.  The scenarios are endless, and the opportunities are endless, if we will only pay attention.

After all, that nudge could well be from the Holy Spirit.

Will you pay attention today?

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding” (Proverbs 2.1-2, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Be attentive

Happy new year!  A new year is a time, for many, to kick old habits and start new ones.  May I encourage you to begin a new habit of being attentive?

It happens to us all, now and again, right?  We may be daydreaming, or looking down at our phones, or distracted by some sight, and we miss something significant.  I remember one time when I was driving on a familiar stretch of road, and all of a sudden, I reached a landmark that made me think, How did I get here?  I had been driving carefully enough, but my mind had wandered to the point that I lost track of my surroundings.

Of course, it would be helpful for us always to be attentive when we are driving, for our safety and that of others.  But how often, even in our spiritual lives, are we just going through the motions?

We read the Bible, but we don’t really seek to understand what God is telling us.

We pray, but we don’t seek answers.

We serve, but we don’t seek to do so in ways that will draw people to the Lord.

When we are attentive, it changes how we live.

Charles Spurgeon once told the story of a school teacher who asked a little girl why she was not understanding even simple things.  The little girl replied, “I don’t know, but I sometimes think I have so many things to learn that I do not have enough time to understand.”

That can be true for us, too; time is short.  So we must prioritize our activities so that we can understand and truly appreciate each task we undertake.

Spurgeon said, “There may be much hearing, much reading, much attendance at public services, and very small result, and all because the word was not the subject of thought, and was never embraced by the understanding.  What is not understood is like meat undigested, more likely to be injurious than nourishing.”

So take time this year to be attentive.  It will enrich your days.

My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

-Proverbs 2.1-6, NLT