Have you ever read anything too fast, and completely missed the point? This recently happened to me.
From the headlines: Supremacist takeover bid angers town. I read that, in my bleary-eyed morning skimming: “Supermodel takeover bid angers town.”
That sure had me puzzled for a moment. I had to laugh at my gross misinterpretation and totally off-the-mark initial understanding of this current event. And then I starting wondering…
How much more do I miss? How much do we all miss, and misinterpret when we just skim? How much understanding, or awareness of deep, rich detail, do we miss when we just skim our
…prayer life… God’s word… relationships…the gift of time and opportunity…worship?
Be still, cease striving…. Our mighty God- who fashioned us before we were born, who knows us far better than we know ourselves- He understands this about our nature. Count the numerous times He admonishes us to live in His spiritual calm, to release the striving, to wait. In the waiting He is teaching. He works His marvelous will and holds us back so we can see it.
By nature, I am a ponderer, and a dweller. I slow down and soak in, convinced there is more offered than just a smattering of importance, a smudge of detail.
By life’s circumstances, I have evolved into a skimmer.–too much to take in, too fast, too often. I miss a lot.
Whether we are moms, wives, husbands, children, students, preachers, teachers, accountants, software developers, writers, or waitresses, our lives are full with responsibilities that vie for our attention. Not only that, but technology has made our world both small and big at the same time. All we need is a quick keystroke to access information and friends across the continents. The instantaneous influx of text and information, links and demands increases daily. It’s too much for a brain to deliberately process and sift through with care, so we skim for relevancy. We skim e-mails, texts, and magazines. As frequently happens, our habits in one realm bleed over to another. We skim conversations, Bible verses, praise, prayer, worship…
I desire the green pasture kind of life—the kind of life whose pace moves gently and deliberately toward nourishment and growth.
Inside me, I have the heart of a sheep, while I live within the life of a…I don’t even know what to call it, it’s so harried and fractured sometimes. What other creatures on this planet allows such waves of external demands to flood their brain and distract their living besides humans? I’d like to be a better sheep. Rather than straining ahead to what’s coming, and skipping the richness of what God has placed around me, I’d like to learn to slow down and take in what’s right in front of me. I can’t imagine ever trying to hurry a sheep. Let’s take a moment to giggle together at the image of a shepherd trying to speed-walk his waddling sheep over rocky ground, or through the mud, or over hills. They would be perplexed, and perhaps would strain their necks longingly at the shimmer of water or blades of green that passed by at their sides. I imagine sheep kick it into gear when there is danger—it’s sort of a primal instinct-but don’t you think that more often it would be: “Really, Mr. Shepherd, what’s your hurry? This grass is delicious right here. I’m not done yet. Let me just get this last juicy tuft over here. Oh, look! There’s another one I didn’t see before.” ( Mmmm…snuffle, snuffle, munch munch, heavy sigh of contentment.)
That’s why my porch-sits with God are so important to me. My mornings of beginning slow, sitting in the quiet, allow me to clear my head of the frenzy. Before demands of lesson preparation, phone calls, bills, errands and relationships pull at my attention, I begin with sitting. Stopping. Dwelling….Speaking with God. I see how I am blessed and what floods my mind, and lifts my soul, is praise to God for all that is His in my life. His love. His faithfulness. His wisdom. His longsuffering. His forgiveness. His grace. Before I worry the day’s concerns down to smoothness, I praise and thank, and look closely. With that I am content in all circumstances. Thankful all the time. Trusting in His care. Proverbs 3:5,6 Phil, 1 Thess. 5:18
My challenge for today and going forward is not to skim. I want to put on the macro-lens of my spiritual eyes and savor whatever green grass God places before me. I will slow down and examine the richness of color, the dew drops of blessings clinging to each blade. I want to slow down my thinking and really listen, really see what He teaches me, where He’s leading. I will corral my wandering brain, with God’s help, so that it may: hear wisdom from His word; attend to the heart needs of others that are below the first level of hearing; stay focused and in communion with God during prayer; discover ways to be Jesus for others. I will be a better sheep.