Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to have an important conversation with someone, and you can tell that their attention is at least partially elsewhere? Especially with the people you’re closest to. My wife gets rightfully irritated with me when she can tell that my thoughts have already tidied up the (assumed) point of our conversation and gone wandering elsewhere. My daughter is very active, full of thoughts and ideas, and when I’m trying to have a meaningful conversation with her, I work hard to make sure she’s looking at my face, staying focused on me:

“Grace, are you paying attention?”

The past several days at work have been really frustrating. You know those days. Days when you’re handed a huge and tedious responsibility just when you were building up some momentum on something you really cared about. I’ve been trying to no avail to push this rather pointless project along for four days now, getting increasingly irked that I can’t move it out of my way to get on to some other things I was excited about doing.

I’m continuing to try to talk to God as much as possible when I think about it, but for a goal oriented person like myself, when my mind is focused on a goal, that’s all I want to think about, and if I have to stop thinking about it before I’ve completed it – especially in this case – it’s not without some childish sulkiness, complete with a scribbled cloud over my head.

I had been pounding my head against yet another attempt at a solution for the problem I’d been asked to solve, to no avail, and had gotten up to get away somewhere and regroup, and to ask for God’s help. Ever so slowly, and reluctantly, my attention began to turn from God only as Solution To My Problem to God for who He is. God not in my context. Just God. I remembered that I am in His context.

“Chris, are you paying attention?”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”

As I remembered God, remembered who He is and what He is like, and found again a sense of awe that I get to talk to Him at all, it was like coming back to a wonderful place that I’d forgotten about. There was no sudden epiphany of God supernaturally granting me a solution to my problems, but it didn’t matter. I exist for God, and not the other way around.

Unceasing prayer is no substitute for times of focused attention, when we drop everything else in order to acknowledge who God is and who we are. One of the dangers that lie in never taking the time to give our fixed attention to God is that we will begin to see God in the context of our little worlds instead our worlds in light of who God is.

Like a good Father, God desires our attention and our gaze, and more than any earthly father ever was, He is worthy of it.