My car of choice has always been a Honda Accord, except that time I came back from living in Asia and could only afford a Honda Civic. I mean the Bible even says we all need to be in one Accord! Now we drive a Honda CR-V, a sensible choice with many safety features. On a day-long road-trip, I was driving one-handed with a cast on my broken left wrist. As I was apparently getting tired with this difficulty, the Honda driver attention monitor kept going off, repeating, “Driver Attention Low, take a break!” Wow, really! It seems this feature measures the degree of steering-wheel corrections by the driver to maintain proper lane position. And when it senses too much correction activity, it notifies the driver, with the symbol of a coffee cup, to take a break.
As annoying as all the bells and warnings can be, it was also reassuring that someone is looking out for my well-being. When I get over prideful reactions like, “What, I’m not driving badly,” and “I don’t need a break,” then I am actually grateful for the challenge to pay attention.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-42
In this story, Jesus sounded the warning bell, as the “disciple attention” light went on for his dear friend Martha. She exhibited diminished attention to what was really important, that is, noticing the presence of Christ and listening to his words.
What is your reaction to the warnings of diminished attention to the Spirit of God?
A SUMMER PRACTICE: PAY ATTENTION
- CONFESS YOUR DISTRACTIONS. The Psalmist confessed, “My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” (Psalm 32)
Just as the intensity of summer heat saps energy out of living things, our spiritual energy is depleted by distractions that keep us from our regular spiritual practices and community. What are your summer distractions?
Think about the last time it was obvious that God was inviting you to look away from your distractions and anxieties and sit and listen? Where is it easiest for you to get away from worries and pay attention to the presence of the Lord? Go there often!
- RUN FOR COVER. “You will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…He will cover you with his feathers….his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91)
In Texas, we circle the parking lot, praying for the space with a tree to shade our car in 100+ heat. Be attentive to your need to find rest in the shadow of the Almighty God and cover under the cloud of Glory:
Jesus took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. Peter and his companions…saw his glory… a cloud appeared and covered them…A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”Luke 9:28-35
As you seek refuge from the heat in a cool place, spend some time in prayerful imagination under the cover of the Glory of the Almighty God. Sit there, undistracted, just as Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening.”
A few ideas to increase your attention levels:
- See yourself in the Story. Imagine that you are Mary or Peter listening to the voice of God.
- Sit in Silence. Notice the rhythm of your breathing and give thanks for your life.
- Walk alone with Jesus. Ask the burning questions on your heart.
- Stand in Wonder. Look at the night sky and say, “I love you to the moon and back.”
- Memorize God’s Words to you. Repeat them as you Swim, Jog, Hike, Bike, Cook.