As the dogs and I were walking along, I noticed that Marci was walking differently. I picked her up and found something on the bottom of her foot that I quickly removed.
Observation – paying attention – requires us to be intentional. It is necessary to be intentional to understand the needs of the people around you. In this busy world, we often don’t listen when someone is talking with us, because we are trying to contemplate the best answer to the conversation or even thinking about the next task we must accomplish, looking beyond the current interaction. Many times, we are so stuck on ourselves and our goal is to be heard instead of to listen. Also, we are rarely present in the moment, and yet this presence is what is needed to show love and compassion to others. Time is precious, and how you use time is a choice. Do you choose to run around on empty and allow the situations around you to dictate your actions? Do you attempt to be in the moment wherever you are at, being at attention, and calmly following the leading of your Father?
Notice that Jesus was always intentional—always present – and able to understand the needs of those around Him. He spent much time in prayer. He spent much time interacting with people, whereby He invested in their lives, actively listening and engaging in conversation. Conversation, such a lost art today.
Today, be mindful of what is happening around you. Wherever you go, be there. Slow down. Listen for His still small voice. Invest in those before you. Enjoy the people God has put before you, and ask God how you can bless them today to bring Him glory.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 [ESV]
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 [NIV]
This past week, I have had to give my son a bit more attention than usual. He’s a teenager so he doesn’t usually need so much hands on time for his care. Our time spent together is more talking and chilling. I enjoy those moments, though I occasionally miss the baby days. I cherish these days, watching him grow into a young man, excited to see what God will do next in his life. When he got his wisdom teeth out, I knew following the surgery would be a regression that meant mom would have to step up more.
While I was working from home and checking on him every few hours, making sure he was following the doctor’s orders, etc., I was doing more than I am accustomed to at this stage of my life. I must have run up the stairs a hundred times the first few days. A few days ago, I found myself starting to have sinus issues. My allergies got out of control and I was so busy taking care of my son, that I neglected to address what was happening to me. We do that often as parents. Then we end up with a persistent cough, a lack of energy, and eyes that keep trying to close through the day. Yes, when the oxygen masks fall on the airplane, we are supposed to put our own on first. That’s the only way we can help others on the plane. The jest of the lesson is to care for ourselves first so we can care for others. Now, don’t get all proud and be all you, you, you.
The Bible wants us to care for others. The greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. The Bible also tells us to look out for the best interests of others. I could go on and on. But the Bible also tells us to share our hope, to share what we have learned, to teach our children, to feed the needy, to clothe the naked, to tell the nations, etc. This means we need to take the steps, to be intentional with our spiritual well-being and our spiritual growth. We must always be aware of where we are at spiritually, and always be taking care of those spiritual needs. This includes things like prayer, Bible reading and study, time of rest, mentorship, church participation, service, etc. If we don’t address ourselves and our own needs, we cannot do what God has called us to do in reaching others, influencing others, caring for others, teaching others, etc. Look at your spiritual well-being today. How are you doing?
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” – Proverbs 4:20-22 [NLT]
“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 [NLT]
When I walked into the grocery store, I was unable to move. There was a lady who walked into the entrance and she found a regular sized shopping cart at the doorway. She didn’t want to use the cart; she wanted the smaller shopping cart. She took the large cart said, “This isn’t mine” and pushed it in front of all of us entering from the opposite entrance rather than simply moving it to the side. It was as if to say, “You deal with it” or “it’s not my responsibility.” Remember, the cart wasn’t hers.
We all do this at times. We walk by and see someone who needs help, but we do not see it as our responsibility. A co-worker drops the report on the floor but it’s not our responsibility to help her get it all picked up—she dropped it we remind ourselves. An elderly man in the parking lot is having problems but we keep going. We see trash on the street but we did not put it there so why should we gather it up and put it in the bin?
Sadly this lack of responsibility has spread around and has become the attitude of many. Today remember that Jesus came here to save us from our own mess. He did not say that it was not His responsibility. He did not pass by those in need. He did not push aside what was right before His eyes because it was not His own making. He reached out. He helped. He paid attention. He didn’t say, “This isn’t mine.” He “personally carried our sins.” We each got personal attention.
No matter how many times we attempt to keep things in balance, we must constantly be reviewing our lives to make sure we are on the right track. It is not something that is difficult to do and it is not something that should stress us out. Simply speaking, we need to keep looking at our lives to see if we are having a relationship with God and allowing Him to move in our lives or if we are Christians doing the walk.
Christians doing the walk go to church most Sundays or maybe even every Sunday. Christians doing the walk could even be involved in some other activities within the church besides service attendance. Perhaps the people are going to Bible study, volunteering at youth nights, and adding their talents to the upcoming bazaar. But in signing up on all of the service volunteer lists and using our hands to serve, are we communing with God?
It is sad when we help to overwhelm ourselves. It happens so easily. We accept a task, and then we take on another. We think that if we are serving we must certainly be doing the right thing. Moses spent so much time serving others that he was a bit overwhelmed. When Jethro came for a visit, he noticed this problem and advised Moses to distribute his responsibilities. Do you take on too many things in life? Do you have time to actually commune with God or are you too busy serving at the church or living life your own way? See those who are not spending time with God can range from the people who do not know about God and His Word to those who know of God but do not give Him time and do not take the time to listen.
If we spend so much time serving or ignoring, there is little to no room to listen, to commune, and to have the relationship with God that was intended in the first place. God understands that life is busy and that we can get distracted. He put in place a Sabbath day for rest. He knows the importance of rest. It is not so difficult to find the proper balance in life if we take time to listen to God and allow Him to direct our paths.
When we take on so many responsibilities, we end up forcing upon ourselves some legalistic standards rather than allowing the grace of God to work in our lives. I know life is busy. God knows life is busy. It is simply a matter of taking that time for God. It does not need to be at a certain time of the day, nor at a particular place. He is everywhere. We can be with Him everywhere and include Him in our lives at all times. That is communing with God.
It is not about the signature on the volunteer lists or even about the hours put in– it all comes down to one thing– having a relationship with God. If we have that relationship with God and if we are seeking His will for our lives, everything will be balanced. We will not be overwhelmed. Everything will be in place and there will be a peace like no other. So today, take God with you. He’s already there– just take the time to notice. It will change your day!
“You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3 [NIV]