MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE…
It’s a common phrase we hear at ballgames, schools, banquets, and various other events. It’s the phrase that is spoken in an effort to capture the attention of those in attendance. It’s what the announcer says that precludes an important message. The desire on the part of the announcer is to have you fully engaged in whatever he is about to say. He wants your attentiveness. He wants your awareness. He wants you to be fully locked-in.
“May I have your attention, please…”
As simple as giving our attention may seem to be, it’s perhaps more difficult than we give credit to. Why? Because anything and everything is vying for our attention. Think about it. If there was a meter attached to our brains that monitored the activity of cluttered thoughts, emotions, to-do lists, pre-conversations, and post-conversations that we give our attention to, it would be running constantly.
“May I have your attention, please…”
I just tried a little experiment. I’m in Panera (frequently referred to as “my office” :-)). I closed my eyes, put my hands over them (I guess in an effort to really focus), and tried to purposely and solely tune into the conversation taking place at the table across the way. (I know what you’re thinking. No, it wasn’t a genuine effort to eavesdrop on these guys. Although I’ll admit it was a deep, spiritual conversation that I would have loved to be a part of.) But in my effort to focus on one and only one thing, here’s what I heard: multiple conversations, the clatter of the ice machine, dishes rattling, quiet music playing overhead, doors opening/closing, typing on laptops, keys jingling, oven beeping. And in the back of my mind, underneath the muddle of all these things, I was still distantly (but most assuredly) going over what else I needed to do today.
You see, our brains are on a mental treadmill at a rate at which we probably cannot even begin to fathom. It’s no wonder that we can’t fully engage in the announcer’s forthcoming message when he says, “May I have your attention please…”
I don’t know about you, but there’s one announcer that I long to have fully capture my attention. That announcer is God. The God who created the heavens and the earth. The God who created you and me. The God who loves us unconditionally. The God who is faithful, despite our unfaithfulness. The God who forgives, comforts, heals, counsels, guides, disciplines, blesses, teaches, corrects, prays for, and encourages us. Yeah, that God! I want Him to have my complete attentiveness and awareness. I want to be fully locked-in to Him.
Unfortunately, the Almighty God isn’t the only one vying for our attention. He’s competing against the “almighty media”—email, cell phones, social media, satellite TV, mp3 players, news, etc. And that’s not all. The other opponents striving to capture our attention are the shouts of our empty souls longing for purpose, the cries of our broken relationships begging to be mended, the tenderness of our feelings that get squashed in a moment of insensitivity, and the plethora of lies that the evil one is constantly feeding us. It’s nearly impossible to block out all of the perpetual, invasive infiltration of “stuff” going in and out of our minds as fast as we can blink.
That’s why God says things like “Pay attention to Me, My people, and listen to Me, My nation; for instruction will come from Me…” (Isaiah 51:4). And “Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live…” (Isaiah 55:3).
You see, in the grand scheme of things, it is God who is persistently saying to each of us, “May I have your attention, please…”
My prayer of the last few weeks has been, “Lord, capture my attention. God, help me be fully engaged with your Holy Spirit.” It’s amazing what prayer does. But more amazing is the grace of the God to whom we pray.
For now (albeit brief and fleeting perhaps), He has captured my attention.
Why don’t you join me in praying the same way…