Don’t Waste One of Your Most Valuable Possessions

Aaron Burden   -  
One of your most valuable possessions is your attention. Almost everything is clamoring for it. Your screens are ready to grab it as soon as you wake up with a list of notifications. Your car wants it as soon as you start your vehicle to go to work. The billboard tries to catch it as you creep through traffic. Your job demands it with email and messaging notifications. You don’t have to be a marketing guru to know that if someone or something can secure your attention, they can impact your desires. Often what you give your attention to can affect your appetites. The mobile phone game knows this when it sends you a nudge that you haven’t played in a while or that there is a new event or an update. They know they can stir up your appetite if they can steal your attention. Starbucks knows that a simple push notification when you’re in the vicinity can sell a cup of coffee.
This seems like a 21st-century problem, but this has been an issue for millennia. In Psalm 81, Israel’s attention was everywhere except for where it should have been. Psalm 81:8-9 explains to us how. God has continually asked Israel for their attention, but they would not listen. They were so distracted by the foreign gods that they ignored the God who delivered them from Egypt. Their misplaced attention caused them to lose their appetite for spiritual values. They sought satisfaction from sources that were insufficient to meet their needs. How sad it is to give valuable attention to worthless pursuits. The saddest element in Psalm 81 is verse 12. God says that He gave them their empty desires. Like a girlfriend throwing away the engagement ring and keeping the empty box, Israel wanted the empty promise of false gods more than the satisfying relationship with Jehovah. You can hear the yearning of God’s heart: “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me” (vs. 13) “I should soon have. . .”(vs. 14). In verses 14-16, God says, “I would have protected you,” “I would have given you peace,” “I would have provided the best for you.” Israel had to face the fact that they missed the best God had for them because their attention was in the wrong place.
Let’s learn a lesson from Israel. Let’s give our attention to and develop an appetite for our Heavenly Father. If our attention can affect our appetite, then let’s turn our eyes and ears to the only One who can truly satisfy. Don’t let the distractions and the constant grab for your attention make you miss the voice of your Savior. Direct your attention and develop an appetite for Him and His Word. Like He did for Israel, He will protect you! (Proverbs 21:31). He will give you peace! (John 14:27). He will provide for you! (Matthew 6:25-26).
“When it comes down to it, technology has created a culture of distraction keeping us stimulated by things that don’t really matter. This is far from ideal. When we start to fill our minds with voices that don’t really add meaning, over time we’ll silence the voice of the only One who does.”
–Matt Knisely
Framing Faith