Hi everyone. Rob here.
Kiley and I were chatting this morning about the amazing opportunity our 14 year old son has this year to go on a 5 week course, full of adventure and discovery, on an island renowned for its rugged beauty. Our hope was that our son would be two things: attentive and engaged. From there fun will flow, character will develop and the experience will be rich food for his soul. Be attentive and be engaged seem like good words for me right now and for most people I would think. They sound easy but we are very distracted creatures. In my own strength I struggle to be attentive and engaged, especially in our information and entertainment soaked world. I need God’s help to pay attention and be engaged, especially because HE is the one I want to be attentive to and engaged with the most.
Jesus, I notice, was attentive to his Father, his followers, his community and his own heart. He was very engaged with life, with his mission and the people presented to him. He had perspective and wisdom that flowed from this attentiveness and engagement. He was focused but there was still a joy and a lightness to him that was attractive, especially to the poor and the oppressed. This observation reminds me that it’s the life of Jesus that I want. Christ in me is my hope of glory. He lives in me and his life is accessible. I can live my life how he would live it if he were me. But it’s the Spirit who helps us do that. It’s the Spirit who helps us pay attention to the life of Jesus in us. It’s the Spirit who then helps us engage with life as Jesus would.
So trying to do life while ignoring the Spirit seems like a really bad idea. But, like you probably, I seem to be able to do that quite often. I know when I’m ignoring the Spirit because I am, you guessed it, inattentive and unengaged. Just ask my wife! She knows when I’m living out of Christ in me because I have more energy, more focus and more love. When I’m weighed down by own thoughts, my own ego, then I tend to withdraw and shut down. What do you do? What are your warning signs? And what do you do when the warning signs appear?
For me, I have learnt that the warning signs don’t just mean spending more time with God. Sometimes it does, but often it means practicing being attentive and engaged. It’s a short prayer of surrender and asking for the Spirit’s help, and then just getting on with it. As I do what I want to be I start to become someone who lives how I and God want me to live. Kiley prefers it too! But if your weakness is too much action, blundering in without thought, being too busy and hyperactive then you probably do need to withdraw with God for silence and solitude. We often need to do the opposite of what we default to in order to reset the system. If you default to stepping away then practice stepping in and stepping up. If you default to busyness and control, then step down and step away. Walk with God. He will nudge you in the right direction.
Yesterday I had a very early shift, so by late in the afternoon I was almost asleep on the couch. A neighbour came over who is showing signs of becoming more open to us and to God. Instead of withdrawing and letting Kiley deal with it, under the guise of tiredness and self-care, I stepped in, gave him attention and engaged as best I could. The reward was simply feeling better about myself and being a better human. That, after all, is why Jesus came. He wants us to be better humans and he can teach us how. We just need to pay attention and engage.
Grace and peace.