Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pay Attention!

How many times have we heard this phrase? "Pay Attention!" I know I heard it as I was growing up at home, in school, in sports, and the list goes on. Someone wanted me to stop drifting in my thoughts of somewhere else and focus on what I was doing at that moment in time. Instead my mind was wandering or my thoughts were onto whatever was happening later that day or week. Why is it so hard to focus? Why do we have to be told to "Pay Attention?"

In my opinion, the first part is the reason. In order to get focused a price must be paid. We have to stop where our mind is and focus on the task at hand. We have to surrender our mind to the here and now. In some cases means that we face the pain of today rather than the pleasure in our mind of what might be. It may mean facing some ugly circumstances in our life or the pains of our own sins.

In the book by Andy Stanley, "The Principle of the Path", he lays out the idea that our attention = direction. So whatever we are focusing on, our direction in life will lead us. The analogy he uses is driving a car. If you look anywhere but straight ahead while driving, the car usually drifts that way as a result. So if you are looking on either side of you or behind you will likely go off the road. The same is true in our lives. The distractions in life are usually on the sides of the road. Illicit pleasures and false comforts are placed along the tough and bumpy road of marriage as the mirage. If we take our eyes off of Christ and His comforts then we soon head down the side roads that lead to broken bridges and desolate swamps with signs that read "Dead End"

In the book, He continues the equation with attention = direction not intention determines destination. What destination do you want in your life? I know I have searched that recently since reading the book. These are a few of the places I long to be in life:

1. In a close intimate relationship with Christ
2. In a marriage where one another is fulfilled, nurtured and valued
3. A family that knows Jesus and shows it to others in practical ways
4. Financially strong where I am debt free and providing for the needs of my family
5. Using my failures in life to help others avoid the same dead end roads I traveled.

Those are what I have come up with so far. I am far from achieving all those right now. I am however trying to find the "on ramp" to those paths. I still make mistakes daily but each day I learn how to stop at the "dead end" sign, turn around, look for a way back to the path that leads to God's destination for my life. What is your destination? What direction are you heading and are you paying the price of attention?

1 comment:

  1. I must say that this "direction" you speak of is one I identify with. Like you, it seems, I am too often distracted into the future. I am a forward thinker. Some would say a visionary. There is good in that, of course, but should always be balanced by the need to "live in today." It is God's design that we live in today for today has enough troubles of it's own. (not to ignore the future, but not to live in it either)

    Also, I find myself on a constant "struggle" to maintain this focus/direction in life. I've been reading Milt Rodriguez's, The Temple Within and he says that this is the task of religion. We are living in the external. This is a shadow of the real, internal living that Christ came to give us. We don't have to "attain" any sort of "success" in our personal or professional lives. We have already attained, by being "In Christ." As we are "in Christ," we have everything we already need to be who He wants us to be.

    I believe God is teaching me something through all of this, but I'm not entirely sure what yet. I applaud your journey and willingness to share it with others. Keep seeking after God and His heart! People like you encourage me to do the same.