Paying Attention.

I was in Bromley a while ago. I was helping a church think about it’s work with children, young people and families – they had invited me to bring a fresh perspective, have a good look at what they are doing, how they were doing it and then make recommendations for moving things forward.

I love doing this. Part of that is because I am free to “see”. I’m not trying to make something happen, lead a session or think about where my team are, how the kids are doing, have we got what we need etc . . .

I can pay attention.

It is so HARD in the normal run of things to pay attention, to be in the moment and truly “see”. There is just too much going on!

How much harder has it become as I write this. We are in “lock down”, only able to go out for essentials and can’t meet with those outside our household except via Zoom or Skype or FaceTime. Perspective in these times is going to be illusive!

Yet, even now – we need space to step back, reflect, look at what we are doing (or not doing) with fresh eyes. If we can build up the courage – even ask someone else – via a screen, “Can you look at what I’m doing? Can you be honest with me about where the gaps are or what I am missing?

It’s hard doing this – but so valuable!

There is this great verse that helps me when it all seems too much. Too much demanding my attention, too many expectations, too many potential ideas, resources, directions – everyone, right now, is scrabbling to provide content and material to make up for our not being together – I can’t navigate a way forward!

The verse is this, Exodus 14:14;

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.”

Our battle is the Lord’s – not ours. But, this verse doesn’t mean be “still” (though that is often how it is translated), it rather means – “hold your peace”. Or in more colloquial language – “keep your gob shut!

Can we pay attention without adding something? Can we see without commenting? Can we notice what is happening and drink it in? Can we see what God is doing and bask in it? The challenge is to not pay attention for just long enough to see what needs fixing or doing Рand then jumping to action!  Calling the shots, making stuff happen.

Have you ever been “listening” to someone, and – half way through what they are saying you have thought of what you want to say . . . ? Then, you might still be looking in their direction, you might even continue to nod and make , “mmm, that’s interesting” noises . . . but you aren’t listening, you are waiting to offer up your contribution. You’ve decided, you’ve formed your opinion – you’ve stopped paying attention.

I had stuff to share with that church when I finished in Bromley – but, while I was there in the moment, I held my peace – I didn’t want to miss a thing, I didn’t want to jump to early conclusions.

Whatever you are doing today, take time to pay attention ::

What is God doing?
Where are the people you don’t notice often, what are they doing?
What is happening in your home, your street, your town, online?
Where is God at work in the cracks and crevices of your life or the lives of others?
Where is something amazing – but unseen – bringing transformation?

Pay attention!