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I WILL TURN ASIDE…

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
Exodus 3:1-5

I sometimes worry that I have SADD – Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder. I am concerned that with our breakneck, fast-track culture I have been set up for not paying attention to God. And by not paying attention to God, I am not hearing God speak.

Neuroscientists tell us that by our use of computers, tablets, smart watches and smartphone our brains are being rewired for distraction. This mounting attention deficit disorder affects us not only cognitively, but spiritually. We are too distracted to pay attention to God. Long before our day of constantly being online and in touch, nineteenth-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning lamented SADD. Browning draws on the imagery of Moses before the Burning Bush to press her point:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
— “From ‘Aurora Leigh’”

I don’t want to sit around and pick blackberries when our world is crammed with heaven. The God of the Bible is, as Paul described Him, the God “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our everyday lives are saturated with the divine Presence. If we but had eyes to see we would see, “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Saints and sages remind us that God is always present to us, but we are not always present to Him. It takes purpose and effort to heed Paul’s radical call to “look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for that can be seen is temporary, but what can not be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

There is a line in today’s scripture that jumps out at me. It’s where Moses, upon seeing the burning bush says: “I must turn aside and look at this great sight.” Moses stops to pay attention. Moses could have kept going, but he turns aside. And I note that God does not speak a word to Moses until Moses turns aside to look. Nor does God reveal to Moses that he stands on sacred, holy ground, until he turns aside.

There are a couple of spiritual disciplines I have found helpful for turning aside to pay attention to God. There are more practices than these two, but I pass these two on to you in the hope you too might find them helpful:

JOURNALING: I find that Journaling sharpens my vision for seeing God’s presence in my life and also recalling how He has been present with me in the past. My Journal contains the following:

  • Passages of Scripture that have spoken to me and I have copied in my journal
  • My responses to passages of Scripture
  • My responses to life events
  • Questions I have of God
  • Insights gained
  • Honest expressions of joys and sorrows
  • What God seems to be saying to me through Scripture, life, friends, prayer, reflection, etc.

I find that journaling helps me connect the dots and pay attention to what God is doing and teaching me.

DAILY GOD HUNT: Some people hunt for treasure; others hunt for gold, butterflies, mushrooms, deer, etc. But I go hunting for God every day for God! I borrowed this practice from David and Karen Mains in their book Daring to Dream Again:

  • I begin the Daily God Hunt in the morning with a short prayer telling God that I am going to be watching for Him throughout the day. Then with eyes wide open to God’s presence, I look for Him in any one or more of the following way:
    • – An obvious answer to prayer
    • – God showing Himself in His creation through a sunrise, beautiful flower, designs of a leaf
    • – God helping me to do His work in the world
    • – The wise words of a friend
    • – Any evidence of God’s love and care for me
    • – Add you moments here…
  • At day’s end I take a few moments to reflect back on my day and pay attention to any God Sightings GOD SIGHTINGS I had. I thank God for those God Sightings and His presence with me throughout the day. I often can double my delight by sharing my God Sighting with another person. This sharing is often an encouragement to others as well as to me. I find that the more I seek to pay attention to God in my day, the more I become aware of Him, experiencing holy ground and His calling Voice.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you as we fight against SADD.

Grace and peace,
Tim

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