Can I have your Attention, please

I made a promise yesterday, when I blogged about floating, that I would talk a bit about my concept of themes for my years. I can't remember what year exactly I started feeling like God was going to teach me, talk to me, help me focus on one particular theme or phrase. I know we were still living in the little house in the hood so it was at least eight years ago. I do know the theme that year was "Jubilee."  It is hard for me to put  words to how He tells me my theme. Sometimes it's a nagging thought, a recurring word or idea, sometimes He just drops the word right into my head without trumpet or fanfare, and also without any doubt that it is Him doing it.  Maybe not everyone is into the concept of a God who speaks directly to a person. He does to me. I don't just mean through scripture, through community, through prayer...though certainly, and far more often He does speak to me this way.  But sometimes I literally hear His voice in my Spirit. It is His and that there is no denying.  But each year is different. Each year I begin to feel a tug to listen harder, to watch, to anticipate...and each year no matter how it comes to me, I recognize it as what we are going to walk together and learn over the course of the year. Other years have had themes like, No excuses, Delight, Consider the Lilies (which, incidentally, was the theme when we moved to Georgia, and never has God shown Himself more capable of taking care of us beyond anything we could have procured for ourselves). Last year's theme was Obedience.  And this year? This year is the year of Attention

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Romans 12:1-2 (emphasis mine)

This isn't the only verse that goes with the theme, but it is the one for right now, and right now is all I need to be concerned with.  I also wrote yesterday that I unlike other years, I don't really have a list of plans and goals as I normally do in January. I have been reading a good deal about living life without goals, instead cultivating habits and enjoying life in the moment. I was intrigued by the idea, but uncertain if that was the path for me this year. I mulled it about in writing, in my journal and in prayer and today I read something that confirmed what I had already suspected: indeed this year will be guided by continued attention on God, not based on my own whims, will or wishes.

Christian discipleship is a process of  paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God's will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such reality that we acquire perseverance.  -- Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

It's going to be a different kind of year for me. The planner, the lister, the worker will be learning new patterns of living, of trust, of experience.  My four guiding tenets for everything will be Kindness, Wisdom, Joy and Prosperity (riches), but how these will manifest will require my constant attention on the Giver of all good things.  I'm excited and nervous and above all hopeful.

Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. 
 And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or a fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what He says He will do...It is willingness to let God do it His way in His time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. --Eugene Peterson

 Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise. Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you've taught me the truth about life! And let your promises ring from my tongue; every order you've given is right. Put your hand out and steady me since I've chosen to live by your counsel. I'm homesick, God, for your salvation; I love it when you show yourself! Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well, use your decrees to put iron in my soul. And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me! I'll recognize the sound of your voice.  Psalm 119: 168-170


lakecrestgirl said...

Thank you for taking the time to talk about your themes and goals. I find the idea fascinating. I love your story of themes and how God weaves together a themed journey just for you each year.

Lauren said...

I have a couple of words that hit my brain tonight... wondering if perhaps God is leading me toward a theme this year.

Aisling Beatha said...

i haven't sat down and thought about a verse for mine yet. Must get around to doing that.