BE ATTENTIVE TO GOD
We live in a noisy world. Every day we are surrounded by a myriad of things that clamor for our time and attention. Many of those things are important and worthy inputs into our daily routines – spending time with our families, communicating effectively with our co-workers, or listening to what our physical bodies are telling us. Other things are mere distractions created by a media addicted culture – television, advertising, cel phones, the internet, social media, or the pull of countless entertainment options. In the midst of the chaos and noise it’s often hard for us to hear the “still small voice of God”. We are bombarded on all sides as we rush around from one responsibility to the next, often unaware that God has been trying to get our attention.
This is not a new phenomenon. Since time began man has had a habit of “tuning out” God while attempting to run their lives according to their own plans. Whether that has been a purposeful choice or simply the result of the surrounding chaos of life, the results are the same. A life lived without paying attention to what God has to say is destined for trouble.
John R. Mott recognized the importance of developing an attitude of attention to God. To do so one must make a conscious choice to tune out the distractions around them and focus on what God may be saying to them. Mott’s conviction was that you will only hear God when you’re purposefully focused on listening to God. Without a deliberate decision of the will, God’s voice is often lost amidst the din of the crowd.
Unfortunately, most of us will not just naturally slow down and listen. We’re busy people with places to go, things to do, and countless others that are seeking an audience with us. With our already overloaded schedules, it’s hard to take the time to tune out the noise and tune into the Spirit. Something has to change in us if we are ever really going to hear God.
It’s important to note that Mott isn’t suggesting we all join a monastery and seclude ourselves from the noise and distractions. The fact is, even if we were living in a monastery we would still have to find ways to overcome distractions……..just different ones. What Mott has suggested is that we learn how to attune our spirit to God’s Spirit; to open our eyes to see what God is doing around us; to pull away from the noise on a regular basis to hear His voice; to seek to discern how He is working in and through the circumstances of our lives and the lives of those around us.
Being attentive to God is simply acknowledging that God is there and He is not silent. That was both the title and theme of Francis Schaeffer’s Christian classic, “He Is There and He Is Not Silent” written in 1972. John R. Mott would have agreed with the premise and purpose of that book wholeheartedly. And if God is not silent, then it would seem to behoove us to listen more attentively to what He may have to say – through prayer, mediation, the scriptures, sermons, and conversations with those who know Him.
Psalms 46:10 says, ““Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Mott believed we need to take that imperative to heart; we need to learn how to be “attentive to God”. It’s a discipline he personally practiced, and one that helped define his life. Why? Because he believe what Psalms 50:3 says, “Our God comes and He will not be silent….”.