The other morning I was in a meeting with a group of good women who had gathered to do some of the Lord's work. But we got distracted.
Before we had been gathered ten minutes someone mentioned the distressing item from the previous evening's local news broadcast. Someone had slipped into our church offices (right next door to the very room in which we were meeting) and, while the office was briefly unattended, had stolen some one's purse.
The thief had been clearly caught on the church security cameras, and this video was broadcast the next evening on the local news. We were all fairly disgusted and decidedly perturbed, when one of our group said quietly, "Yes, it was my purse she stole, and it was during my mother's funeral services."
The questions then flew fast and furiously. Has she been caught yet? Did you get your purse back? Did you have any money in it? What about your debit and credit cards? Are you pressing charges?
The gentle soul whose purse was taken, just smiled and said that she and her husband did not care too much about the money, although yes, some was taken. She was paying attention to her mother's home-going celebration at the time of the theft, and now they were letting the police handle the robbery. She said they did not plan to involve themselves any further than was necessary.
The clear message was that while unfortunate things happen - and sometimes at the most inopportune times - she was paying attention to more important matters. She made this clear without bitterness or self-righteousness. Her focus was simply elsewhere.
Her whole attitude blessed me. She was paying attention to what mattered.
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Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message version of the Bible, wrote an excellent book entitled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. In it he says,
"Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God's will and purposes ...".
Well, hello and hallelujah!
When we focus on God's will and purposes we find ourselves relaxing in ways we never imagined. We have less need to demonstrate our own righteousness (as if we ever really had any) and more and more willingness to depend upon His.
That is my idea of both blessed assurance and blessed relief all at the same time. And it comes to us as we pay attention to the right things and to the Righteous One.
When we do this, we are less distracted and distraught by unforeseen circumstances, unanticipated griefs, and unplanned detours. It is not that we ignore such things in our lives, but rather it is that we are paying attention to something more important.
When we do that, we are not daunted not even by being robbed at our own mother's funeral. Yes, it is a hard world in which we live. But aren't we glad that there is One who is over it all, has it all under His watch care, and will never leave us nor forsake us?
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I want to pay attention to the better things. Hope your attention is fixed on good things, too. Until next time ~ Marsha