Your NFC – January 1, 2016

Click HERE to read the entire January 1, 2016 issue.

by Elizabeth Sherwood

by Elizabeth Sherwood

  Pay attention.

  Be astonished.

  Tell about it.

–Mary Oliver

I came across these simple instructions in a chapter on Epiphany. I was drawn to these three short sentences in part because I don’t have lots of down time for reading during the holidays. I was also taken by the words that highlighted for me exactly what I am hoping for this season. I want to pay attention. I want to be surprised by joy. I want my life to speak of God’s goodness. I am also very much aware of my shortcomings during this time of the year. The “extras” can be so distracting. The expectations can be overwhelming.

So instead of taking in the three short sentences, I decided to live with just the first one: Pay attention. How will it look if I focus on the things happening left and right and all around me and see them for what they are—acts of simple kindness I see others doing at the grocery store or in the airport; words of politeness spoken to the crummy customer in front of me; family members enjoying one another; a friend asking for help from their church and receiving more than they imagined? What if I pay attention to the events around me and recognize in them little acts of grace that reflect the nature of Christ?

What if I set aside the noisy to-do list in my brain to lift up the strangers that I drive by; to ask for God’s mercy to be known by my family members; to pray for the many who don’t have the luxury of distractions because survival of their present suffering consumes all of their emotional and physical energy?

What if I could pay attention to what God is doing in my own life— to see him wait for me to slow down and rest in his presence; to hear the Spirit encouraging me to respond more slowly so that kindness instead of snarky sarcasm is spoken; to recognize Christ’s presence in the here and now instead of being caught up in the plan for tomorrow?

If I could pay attention to all beautiful spiritual moments all around—not miss them due to my own distractibility—would not I then be astonished? Would my life then naturally speak of the grand story of Jesus? Life can be found in the simplicity of taking this day hour by hour, asking my Lord to help me receive all that I can; asking the Spirit to help me pay attention.

Click HERE to read the entire January 1, 2016 issue.

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