Like a tiny tornado, my two small sons whirl into the house from outside. They spill through the door, noisy as all get-out, asking questions like “What’s 65 plus 75?” and “What do eagles eat?” all while turning in circles and checking their pockets for rocks and small cars.
Into the din, I say, as I always do, “Take off your shoes.”
I always, always, always say this. We always take off our shoes when we come inside.
So, you’d think that my 4- and 5-year-old boys would take off their shoes.
Nope. Today, they start taking off their pants. (Yep, their pants.)
“Not pants. Shoes,” I correct, stuffing a laugh.
Believe it or not, this has happened on more than one occasion. My kids know that I told them to do something, and (I don’t know) maybe they’ve got to go to the bathroom, so they do whatever muscle memory tells them to do instead of what I actually told them to do.
Missing the Message
I often think about God, my Father. Does He give me instructions and watch while I kind-of obey Him?
He tells me to do something, and I do try — I make an actual attempt — but I’m too distracted to do exactly what He’s telling me to do.
What is God thinking at times like these?
(Amused) “Hm, almost. But not quite. You tried.” (Pats me on the head)
(Big sigh) “Why do I even bother talking at all? You don’t have ears to hear!” (Stomps foot)
In scripture, Jesus said on more than one occasion, “He who has ears, let him hear.” In other words, “If you’ve got ears, then use them. Listen up. Try to understand.”
I’m sure there have been times when God has said, “Visit that person,” and I responded with, “Yes, Lord, I’ll text her.” I’m sure He’s told me, “Take some time to pray,” and I responded with, “Does it still count as praying if I’m also washing dishes?”
Of course, this is not an attitude of flagrant rebellion and disrespect, but I’m not totally tuned in. I’m not as effective as I could be. It’s like I’m hearing God speak over crackling radio waves. Only bits and pieces are filtering through to me. I don’t get His full message.
Time to Tune In
When I’m asking my boys to take off their shoes — or asking them to do anything, in fact — they are about one-thousand-million times more likely to obey me (correctly) if they are …
… can you guess? …
…looking straight at my face when I’m speaking.
When their eyes meet mine, they are way more focused, and my voice comes through loud and clear.
Am I a more effective disciple when my eyes are fixed on Jesus?
My Father has encouraged me again and again to look at Him first and foremost, to set aside anything that interrupts the connection or weakens the signal (all those pesky distractions).
I’ll admit, there are many things that regularly get my full and undivided attention. My willing and enthusiastic attention, every single day.
Is Jesus one of those things? Is He regularly one of those things?
Partial attention and distracted obedience — do these really, truly honor Jesus Christ, the Savior of my soul?
He deserves so much more.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about achievement or performance.
It’s about being wholly devoted to my worthy leader.
So, open up, ears. There’s a message coming through.
No Gospel Blog Articles Next Week
What?! It’s true.
Next week, we’re pausing our publication schedule because the Church is refreshing its website. And by “refresh” we mean a completely new (and fantastic) look with lots of useful information, links, and downloads. It’ll be worth the wait!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.