Much of the time I've got the pause button activated. It's probably the norm is this loud, mobile, and anonymous world, cruising through life unplugged or with the speakers turned down. Staying constantly on point is a test for even the youngest and sharpest among us. Even more, as if I need another excuse, there's a cultural attention deficit that keeps us under a cloud of distractions. The noise and busyness of this world is often louder than the voice trying to get our attention.
It's a lesson I should already know, and probably do. Like many other important things this lesson may have slipped through the cracks the other day when it charged fresh and vibrant across my life l screen. it was during coffee with Curt Bradford, one of those times when the volume of life was turned down and the receivers were disengaged. You know, coffee time, off the grid. We were discussing this complex world, all of the confusion and rhetoric about the 2016 election, and some of the personal elements of spiritual leadership when the Christian community is so divided. In the process Curt mentioned a Bible passage that gave him some clarity about a spiritual leaders role in circumstances like these. It was like a veil was lifted for me. Several weeks of personal debate were settled right then, and there was a flash of definition that made some sense of my ramblings.
Honestly, I'd like to claim that bit of wisdom as my own brain child or revelation. But, I'll let that go and give Curt the privilege of sharing it with others. As thankful as I am for his wise counsel and biblical direction, it wasn't the lesson I should have mastered years ago. The life lesson of the day was more elemental and basic: I should always be alert for God's provision for life and never be so consumed by life and events that the listening devices are deactivated. There is no pause button in God's guidance of our lives. He is always giving us what we need if we just pay attention.
A couple of Scriptures intersect here.
My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.
John 5:17, NIV
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will
teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26, ESV
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our
knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3, NIV
Look at what is before your eyes.
2 Corinthians 10:7, ESV
Yes, a systematic theologian could explain all of this better than me. But, in short, these verses remind that---
1. God is always working in our lives.
2. God promises to teach us all things.
3. God has promised to give us everything we need for life.
4. We're prone to be blind about what He's doing.
Receiving some biblical instruction about these times was certainly a blessing. But, the real lesson of the day was about God's faithfulness in providing what we need. There I was in Starbucks, relaxed with a friend and colleague known for 34 years, the tensions of the day eased by the strong brew in front of us, and the elusive answers from the past couple of weeks fell right into place. He reminded me of his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises. WOW! In capital letters, it was "PAY ATTENTION!"
Jesus counseled the disciples, "Pay attention to what you hear" (Mark 4:24). It's the lesson of that morning at Starbucks and I think, the single most important word to our preoccupied, self-absorbed culture. The world is moving fast, the traffic is heavy and congested, the exits and interchanges are clogged. Paying attention is hard. But, failing to do so is disastrous. The writer of Hebrews emphasized the point with certainty---
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we
drift away from it.
Hebrews 2:1, ESV
That's the lesson I should have already known, to pay attention. It's a lesson God's people must bring to this increasingly secular culture.