My son Jarrod grew up telling stories. No, not lies – stories. These weren’t just any stories; they were elaborate tales spun with action verbs and vivid adjectives. Some were true, some only his imagination. As his storytelling improved, it became harder and harder to distinguish which was which.
Late one afternoon years ago, I busily threw some chicken into a skillet to get supper going while Jarrod stood at my feet spouting yet another fanciful tale. When I finally realized he’d stopped talking, I looked down to see the reason for the sudden quiet. There he stood, staring at me like a man who’d just caught a teenager keying his brand-new car. He grabbed my shirt, pulled me down to his level, wrapped both of his chubby, four-year-old hands around my face, and laser-locked my eyes as his squeaky little voice demanded,
“Listen! To! Me!”
I’d been had. He knew my “uh huhs” and “okays” were just cover-ups for not paying attention.
A few weeks ago, I was had by him again. Only this time I tried to blame it on not hearing what he and his dad were saying. Ron wonders about the health of my sixty-year old ears, but Jarrod knew the real truth. “Mom! It’s not that you don’t hear well. It’s that you just don’t pay attention!”
I was still hanging on to the not-hearing-as-well-as-I-used-to excuse until a friend of mine busted me about a text message. I thought I’d read the text carefully enough to get the gist of it. I didn’t see anything really worthy of a follow-up question. After all, my friend is usually pretty straight-forward. But I failed to hear her tone in the text. I didn’t read slow enough to listen to her heart. So, what were her words when we met in person later in the week? Yep! You got it!
“You don’t pay attention!”
I’m a little slow when it comes to seeing a pattern of my own wrong-doing developing. Repetition must befriend me before I decide my mistake needs confessing. It took Jesus throwing the third strike before I finally paid attention.
He and I were in my car for a thirty-minute drive. This has become my favorite time to practice His presence. Times like these have transformed my prayer time. I’ve learned to simply talk to Him like He is my best friend because I’ve finally realized that’s exactly who He is!
On this particular day, I felt the lies of the enemy trying to slide headfirst into my thinking, so I tattled on Satan to Jesus. I said, “Jesus, I need you to check my spirit when my thoughts don’t line up with what you want.” That’s when Jesus kicked the dirt, nodded at the sign from the Spirit, reached back, and threw His curve ball. He said sternly, “I need you to pay attention when I check your spirit!”
Needless to say, I never saw that one coming. After hearing that phrase directed toward me by three different people, I knew it was time to head back to the batting cage of God’s word for more instruction. Do you keep hearing a specific phrase repeated in all manner of ways? Be wise and pay attention.
Paul told the Ephesians (5:15), “Pay careful attention, then, to how you live – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” I don’t know about you, but I need to pay more attention to the people closest to me. Text messages may work in a pinch, but nothing replaces hearing the tone of a voice or seeing the look in someone’s eyes.
I want to make the most of my time by finding new and better ways to love my people well. I want to spend more time with Jesus so that His wisdom rubs off on me. I’ve often been too busy to pay attention, but Jesus lovingly continues to wrap His hands around my face and demands, “Listen to me!”
It’s taken me a day or two, but I’ve decided this life is worth living, and living well.
“Then a voice came from the cloud, saying: ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him!’” (Luke 9:35, CSB)