Are You Paying Attention?

Image of girl looking up

On Saturday night, Michael (being the amazing husband he is) ran out to pick up dinner. Mexican—exactly what I was craving. Burritos in tow, he walked out of Moe’s and noticed a man leaning over a woman’s car talking to her. He sensed something amiss and walked over.

“Hey…Is there a problem?”

“Yea man. My car broke down and my kids are at home. I need money for a cab,” the    middle-aged man replied directly.

“I don’t have any money, but I’ll give you a ride. Where do you need to go?” Michael replied truthfully.

George, grateful for the offer, jumped in Michael’s car. Almost immediately, he blurted out, “My wife just died and we got three kids.”

He continued to share his heartbreak over his wife’s death. They were only married 6 months, but had been together “forever” he said.

Michael listened. He encouraged him to grieve. And he prayed with George.

“From one husband to another I am deeply sorry for your loss,” Michael said as he dropped him off in a run-down part of town.

Over an hour later, I gave Michael the where-the-heck-are-you phone call and he told me of his adventure. Listening to his story, I could not help recall what God is teaching me lately about paying attention. Slowing down, creating margin in my life, and listening to His voice. I still seem to be in a constant state of busyness.

Jesus often shows up in our lives in the form of ‘interruptions’. He wants us to stop and help the man on the side of the road, or reach out to someone who doesn’t fit our ‘ministry focus’, or take a detour on the way to our important meeting. Remember the story of the good Samaritan? The religious people who passed by missed the man needing help—missed the opportunity to be shown building the kingdom on the pages of Scripture.

Too many times, our busyness keeps us blinded to the greatest workings of the Spirit. To the adventures beyond even our dreams. As Christians, it’s easy to be wrapped up with all the things we should do that we miss the opportunities that seemingly ‘interrupt’ our plans.

Michael works at a church and his full-time job is ministry. Reaching out to the broken. Helping the needy. Equipping believers to become better disciples. But would you be surprised if I told you that his greatest opportunities for ministry—the lives who he’s touched by the power of Christ—came outside his work hours and work focus?

My friend Natalie is a great example of an interruption. I was busy completing my double major ( the ‘necessary’) & leading 2 Bible studies  (‘the good’). I already had my ‘ministry’ mapped out. But after stealing her phone accidentally, I recognized that while I thought I knew who God wanted me to spend my time with my Senior year, His plan was different.  Natalie became a friend for life and marked the beginning of my heart for China. It is absolutely mind-boggling to think about the impact my decision to share Christ & life with her has had on the lives of hundreds of women. She showed up, interrupted my plans, and there was my choice. What if I hadn’t been paying attention?

The busiest time of the year is upon us. What if we approached it differently? Not making endless lists of what we ‘should do’, but focusing on paying attention and listening. Creating margin in our life for detours, divine appointments, and holy interruptions.

Are you paying attention? 

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8 Responses to “Are You Paying Attention?”
  1. “but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42

    Wow…what a great story! And what a timely blog topic!

    I also struggle with PAYING ATTENTION … though I usually identify it as the feeling of needing to control my schedule, my day, my life. I want to SURRENDER … but sometimes I am not sure what that looks like.

    One time, in desperation, I lamented to a dear sister in Christ, “How am I supposed to let the Lord control my walk with Him when I have literally thousands, maybe millions, of decisions to make each day?” My mind was rapidly ready to defend this statement. I have to decide what to eat, what to wear, what errands to run, what friends to call, what emails to delete, when to do my quiet time, when to exercise, who to vote for, how to discipline my child, how fast to drive, etc, etc, etc. How can I take time to let God direct my day?

    My friend listened to me and then replied, “Yeah, it’s tough. But I use this as a litmus test…How would I feel if my plans changed?” I let that sink in, and I realized it is true for me as well. When it has to be my way … that is an indication that I am in control. When I am ok with change … that is an indication that I am submitting to the Lord’s control.

    Michael had planned to bring home burritos to his lovely wife…instead he brought home a hurting man. You were expecting Mexican food…instead you began to expect more “holy interruptions.” Your plans for the evening changed, and you both ended up ok with it which means (according to my litmus test) that you are surrendering your will to His will. You are PAYING ATTENTION … and that is a cool thing to witness. Thank you for sharing!!!

    • Ruthie D. says:

      Leslie…so much to say!

      Firstly, thank you for sharing your heart & experience. It is so hard not to be consumed with our ‘to-do lists’! I agree with your friend about the change element…hmm, I wonder how ok I would be if my world changed. Love the perspective you gave in the last paragraph…I am learning to PAY ATTENTION and it is hard work!

      Thanks for journeying with me friend!

  2. Beautiful story and really spoke volumes to my heart! Thanks for sharing this piece of insightful wisdom especially during the busyness of the Christmas season!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

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