We all know that, spiritually, our attention should always be on our Lord. And we also know that our attention wavers.
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A tiny moment of inattention can change everything in an instant.
A few days ago, I was driving on a narrow mountain road. I lost concentration for a moment, and did not realize I was drifting toward the sheer rock wall to my right. Didn’t realize, that is, until the front wheel struck a fallen rock at the foot of the wall. The loud bang that restored my attention was a combination of the front suspension being torn apart and all the airbags deploying. The car was totaled. Thanks to our heavenly Father, I and my two passengers were uninjured other than some bruising. It could have been so much worse.
Ever since the accident, I’ve been thinking about the spiritual equivalent of this experience. Probably every time we’re behind the steering wheel, unless it’s a very short trip, we have brief moments when our attention is drawn away. Almost all the time, we get away with it. But any one of those moments has the potential to do us harm, and do others around us harm.
We all know that, spiritually, our attention should always be on our Lord. And we also know that our attention wavers. The world around us is filled with distractions. Our own internal thoughts and desires intrude. We have worries, fears, and problems both real and imagined. We have questions, we have doubts.
Just as in our driving, our spiritual inattention doesn’t always get us into trouble, at least not immediately. We recover our attention, get back on track. It helps to read God’s Word every day, to pray often, to meet together regularly with brothers and sisters in Christ, to talk about spiritual matters in our families, our churches, our personal relationships.
Until something bad happens, we don’t think too much about all the things that draw our attention away from our driving. Likewise, until we hit a spiritual crisis, we may not think too much about what draws our attention away from our Lord. And by the time that happens, we may have suffered some spiritual harm. May even have caused spiritual harm to others. We may or we may not walk away spiritually unscathed.
I guess the point here is to learn from experiences such as mine last week. We know the things that lead to spiritual inattention. We know the possible outcome—we could die. What does the Lord say?
It’s possible, Jesus says, for us to feel like we’re familiar with Jesus…but not be known by him as one of his own. He speaks similarly, possibly even more pointedly, in the sermon on the mount:
How could it happen? How could it possibly be true that they acknowledged Jesus as Lord, and they accomplished a lot in the Lord’s service…and yet he doesn’t know them, considers them evil? I think the Lord’s intent is that we ponder that question very seriously with regard to ourselves.
At least one way it can happen, is through inattention. We just don’t focus our whole being on the Lord, and end up not doing the will of the Father. Too many other things going on, too tired, don’t have time. Insert your own excuse here.
The good news, I believe, is that when our attention drifts, we are able to realize it and get our eyes back on him, where they belong. Before it’s too late.