I was thinking last night of the great value of attention... real focus... taking note of what is being said or done in detail. If we are been trained in some way we apply focus to what is being taught so that it can be learned and retained but that same focus has great value in our lives in many places.
"And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law." Nehemiah 8:1-3 ESV
For many this was the first time these people heard the Bible taught in this way. The had had principles and moral-isms no doubt taught to them by their parents but now they were going to hear from the scriptures directly.
"Then he said to them, 'Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.' So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, 'Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.' And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them." Nehemiah 8:10-12 ESV
They cried and then laughed because of what they heard. Suddenly their lives made sense in a way it never had before. Eternal perspective... grace perspective... had made the day a holy day.
"And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, ... So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim." Nehemiah 8:14, 16 ESV
God's word revealed many things to them and they began to live in the word and what it said. It lived in them and they lived in it. That attentiveness that they brought to the scriptures because of hunger and lack of familiarity was then able to be brought to other things and circumstances.
What if a husband decided to live in the book not 'do it' but live in it so it would live in him? What if He made a decision to love his wife as Christ loves the Church and then study his wife in detail? What would he learn in those times of observance and asking questions? It would change his marriage for the better wouldn't it? By studying her inside a principle he would learn how to apply that love in new ways. God would teach him.
What if parents studied each child while the grace of God and the Bible inhabited their thinking?
What kind of neighbor would this make us? What kind of friend would we be?
Is it possible we are trapped in crystallized structures and don't even realize it? I think it is. We build social rules devoid of grace and inattentive to truth all the time unless this process is active in our hearts.
It's easy to pass judgement on the person who parks so badly that it nullifies a spacing space next to them for use or the person who jumps into the elevator before you have time to get out. We can set our attention on rudeness, it is all around us, or we can have attention on redemption.
That is the heart of a missionary really... isn't it? To go to a place and be redemption's 'man on the ground.' To be the eyes, ears and hands of Jesus in a culture or situation. To liberally spread the seed of the Gospel each place they go... having eyes open to see where to spread it next.
We can practice God's presence. God is here. His book being opened on our lap and in our mind has made today a holy day. Eat the fat and drink the sweet wine of grace. Then we look to see who is without it and go send portions to them.
God... open our eyes today so that we see. Give us questions to ask and be answered that will illuminate our circumstances and relationships. Make our life a life of prayer, praise and holy inquiry. You have answers for questions we have not thought to ask. Today is a holy day... what happened before in low living need never be repeated. We walk on a upper highway of praise. Let our perspective change our actions. Cause our cup to overflow with grace and mercy so that it pours out on others.
You are attentive to us. God, Give us that same capacity.