Friday, January 23, 2015
Attentiveness: Awake and Alert in the New Year
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” -Ephesians 5:13-14 (ESV)
Attentiveness is key to living a spiritual life.
Opposite of Preoccupation and Dull Numbness
Attentiveness is the opposite of Preoccupation. We spend so much of our time preoccupied in the back of our minds without even being aware of it. Sometimes we are engrossed with the past, either regretting something negative that happened or daydreaming about something good—trying in our minds to return to that time and the joy we experienced then. Other times we are obsessing about the future, worrying about something that might come up, fearful about what could happen, or desiring some accomplishment, possession or person that we are inwardly clinging to.
Attentiveness is also the opposite of sleeping our way through life. How often we become dull, half-awake or numb in life, just going through the motions day after day. This is why Scripture calls us to “Awake!” (Ephesians 5:13), and to “Arise and shine, for our light has come!” (Isaiah 60:1). This is why the Psalmist exhorts himself, “Awake, my soul! . . . I will awaken the dawn!” (Psalm 57:8)
What are we to be attentive to in this New Year?
1. Attentive to the blessings at hand—everything from food and home to friends and family, from creation that surrounds me to great books to read. The more aware I am to all of God’s favors, the more I want to be careful to return thanks and praise to God for his many good gifts!
2. Attentive to the responsibility at hand, the duty of the moment! Teaching at a college, I too often see students who cannot wait to become teachers or nurses or pastors or missionaries, yet they neglect the homework at hand. They have not made the connection between diligence with today’s work and reaching their goals. As a result, some destroy the possibility of ever reaching the very thing they desire. We need give time and attention to obligations in front of us.
3. Attentive to myself! If I honesty look at myself—my thoughts, attitudes, words and actions—I discover that I am not so unlike those students who dream about the future but miss the duty right under my nose! As Richard Foster has said: “We are capable of infinite self-deception”! I need to be attentive to the issues in my own life if I am to grow personally and spiritually. I must face my inner fears and procrastination, allowing God to transform me from the inside out.
4. Attentive to opportunities of the moment—ready to serve the Lord, whatever, wherever, and with whomever he places before us!
5. Attentive to the Lord! Interestingly, the more I become aware of what is around me in the visible world, the more attentive I am to the invisible realm. As I attend to the Lord’s presence, peace pervades my life. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV).
Attentive this Year
As I move through this year, I want to establish a habit, a lifestyle, of attentiveness. More than ever before, I want to remain attentive to, and thankful for, God’s blessings. Likewise I desire daily to be ever more attentive to what I need to be learning and doing, and attentive to God’s presence permeating my life!
© 2015 Glenn E. Myers