August 1, 2018
READ: Isaiah 26:1-19
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (v.3).
Paying attention is one of our most underrated capacities. Our lives are greatly affected by what we do and don’t pay attention to. For example, if we’re inattentive to a bill’s due date, we’ll incur late fees. In the same way, if we ignore our emotions or try to blunt them, we’ll miss out on more deeply relating with others and God.
Neuroscience, the study of the nervous system, has found that paying focused attention to all aspects of our being (including emotions and body sensations) promotes healthy mental states like inner peace. Our brains function more coherently—they literally create new neurons and new neural connections, while ‘pruning’ older neural connections that promote states of inner unrest.
Long before studies revealed the health benefits of paying attention, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah hailed its importance. Picturing the coming day of God’s worldwide renewal (that would start with Jerusalem) he wrote, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3).
God longs for us to fix our attention on Him. He knows this is essential to experiencing His deep inner peace, one that transcends the facts of the most difficult set of circumstances (Philippians 4:7).
Let’s practise what the psalmist described in poetic form: “reflect” on God’s “ways” (Psalm 119:15). “Meditate”, that is, pay attention on purpose to His “wonderful deeds” (v.27). And if sleep escapes you, “stay awake through the night” and focus on His “promise” (v.148).
Take some slow, deep breaths and pay attention to the One who breathed into the first human the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Your peace of mind depends on Him and what He’s doing within you.
365-day plan: Luke 10:25-42
Read Psalm 25:4-5 and think about what it means to focus on God and His presence in your life.
Why is it hard to pay attention to God? What will happen if you focus your attention on one of the fruits of the Spirit such as patience or self-control?