Be present. Pay attention. This is a lesson that you learn as soon as you reach first grade, perhaps even kindergarten.
Some of us never learn it. With this age of iPhones, Facebook, commercials, two minute hilarious Youtube videos of cats pretending to be dogs or vice versa, it makes sense that we never give the most important things our undivided attention anymore.
But we need to take it back a step. Like way back. Let’s kick it old school.
Let’s go back to the Bible-specifically, to the story of the good Samaritan that Jesus tells, in Luke 10:25-37:
“A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road…”
To summarize part of the story, other people go by, and ignore him, don’t notice him, or choose not to help him (it’s not made altogether clear). Then, a Samaritan comes along. He’s a kind of ethnicity that people don’t like at this time. Then, he “felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
This so-called despised Samaritan was totally in the moment, unlike the priest and the Temple assistant (who could very well have been distracted by that age’s iPhone-less, yet still distracting, worries and thoughts of their own). He was able to clearly see that this poor man needed help, so he did what the Lord suggests we do in this situation - to help those less fortunate than us. If we are paying attention, God will send us a situation very much like this and even more than once, perhaps. But we must be present in both mind and heart in order to respond effectively and compassionately. We also need to know our boundaries and respond within them if we are to respond in a way that is healthy for ourselves and others.
I know this sounds a little bit like a seminar on productivity that you hear at work along with the fact that you should buy a stand-up desk, but I absolutely promise, if you allot yourself time for the most important things, you’ll be able to focus on your priorities. Which brings us to another point.
In the Bible, Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength”.
But what happened to the balance part of this productivity seminar, you say to me, scratching your head. Isn’t there supposed to be a point about balance here?
Let me let you in on a little secret: balance is a myth. You can’t do everything equally well, and nothing in your life can be perfectly balanced. To demonstrate this, try cooking dinner and managing a 4 year old’s tantrum at the same time-did you manage to not burn the house down and keep the 4 year old safe? Then you prioritized the right things.
You need to decide on the most important things in your life, and make sure to be present, be aware that you should make time for them and follow through to schedule those things in your life. How should you do that?
If you missed out on this week's sermon, check it out here.