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Paying Attention

There is Power in the Pivot

Pay attention.

We may remember hearing this little phrase from a teacher or a parent. Maybe we heard it (or should have heard it) right before we ran into a wall. Writing this, I'm having flashbacks of nearly peeing my pants in stooped-over laughter with my mom last Fall after she rammed the top of her forehead into an unexpected wall. Moral of the story - don't walk and text. It's dangerous. But, if you have to, don't do it in the maze of a hotel hallway.

But then again, maybe do? The laughter which ensues is worth the momentary pain.

As we were saying, sometimes this phrase is paired with a snap of a finger and follows an impatient, "Hey!" as in "Hey, you there. Stop day dreamin' over there and pay attention!"

What we're really saying when we ask someone to "pay attention" is to pivot. Shift your focus. It's not that you're not paying attention. It's that you're paying attention to not necessarily the wrong, but the lesser thing.

I've been thinking a lot about how I have a tendency to give lesser things my full attention and energy. Maybe you're like me. Rarely if ever do we do this on purpose. Instead, it's a symptom of the fallen world. Like my friend, Bob wrote:

Darkness is rarely content to wound us with one decisive blow when it can injure us equally with a thousand paper cuts. - Bob Goff, Undistracted

Our enemy knows if he can distract us with lesser things, he can keep us from the abundant life Jesus came to give us. For this reason, we must be on guard. We must be intentional. We must continually renew our minds. It's not that we will never get distracted, but my hope for myself and for you is that we can become people who pivot quickly. What I mean is that we recognize, or pay attention, when a lesser thing has our attention and we shift our focus to the greater thing. How do we do this?

As Paul teaches, we

"...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:5

If it is not truth, we pivot our focus. We move our eyes from our circumstances upward. I've found it's helpful to start by simply praying,"God what do you want me to pay attention to right now?"

The word "pay" is synonymous with "reward." The Bible says it this way,

...A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:7-10

Though this is true in farming, it is also true in every other area of our lives, too. We can trade the negative emotions and distractions of hurt, insecurity and fear for strength, joy, and purpose through the power of prayer and praise.

If a friend says something that hurts our feelings, we can sow into that negative emotion of hurt and pain and judgement. What will we reap? More hurt feelings. But, if we pivot to the higher perspective and sow prayer and forgiveness, what will we reap? Healing and hope for reconciliation.

Hold that thought as we add the next puzzle piece to the picture:

The word "attention," is to regard something or someone as interesting or important. When we give the lesser thing our attention, we are giving it more importance than God in our midst. In other words, we are forming an idol.

Yikes. Isn't it terribly convicting to see how easily we build these idols in our lives? And, as scripture tells us, we are rewarded accordingly.

But, the reverse response is also true. If we pivot to faith and pay attention to God in our midst, we will be rewarded accordingly. In other words, we will find what we seek. If we're seeking more reasons to complain, well, we'll find 'em. If we're seeking more reasons to praise, we'll find it too. My point is: if we seek God's presence - if we are intentional to pay attention to God's presence - in the everyday ordinariness of our lives, we're sure to find Him.

This is what I want for us. I want us to be a people who pivot because I want us to be a people who overcome. I want us to be a people who live and truly abide in the truth that God is with us, and when we do, we will begin to notice God in our midst everywhere we go. Why? Because this is why we were made. We were made for relationship with God. In order for this relationship to flourish, we must spend time with Him. Though corporate worship is important, we don't have to go to a church building to do this. God is right here in our midst. He is in our coming and going, our waking and sleeping, our resting and doing.

For this reason, I'm thrilled to invite you as we dive into this truth together in the next mini series on the podcast. As we intentionally practice paying attention, we'll learn how to:

  • seek significance in the small,

  • recognize the needs around us and find the courage to step into these,

  • identify our unique God-given purpose,

  • understand paying attention is not just something we are called to do but how God interacts with us - it is part of His divine character,

  • develop a sensitivity to hear God's voice,

  • recognize God's hand at work in our lives,

  • and enjoy God's presence again.

We've got a lot to cover, but thankfully we have some beautiful people to help us along the way. I cannot wait to introduce you to these friends of mine.

May we find strength to overcome the distractions of our days as we renew our mindS. May joy overwhelm us as we begin to notice and pay attention to God's presence in our midst. May the Holy Spirit lead us to the peace God wants to give us in every moment and every circumstance of our day and may we forever rest in this truth: Because of Jesus, God is with us and empowering us with every spiritual blessing so we can be a light in a hurting and distracted world.

The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.

I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!

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