I feel that almost unarguably, the greatest gift you can give another is your attention!!
I’ve been thinking about that lately as Challenge House 7 bursts at the seams with adults and children and echoes with constant noise.
I adore the fullness of those noisy sounds- the invigorating string of great ideas that grow large in little minds, the hours of play wanting to be extended while adults try to finish the short list of must-do’s as activities are completed.
I adore the sight of youthful feet racing across the classroom and all those little tangled bodies collapsing in laughter on the floor or on the puffy floor chairs.
I adore the sound of basketballs pounding the gym floor and orange-stitched balls launching off of metal rims with a crack. I love the noisy banter that erupts when we’re all crowded around the picnic table outside even in the windy cold.
I adore kids.
But what I don’t adore is the fact that everyone seems to need my attention at the same time…
Kids and adults alike
The six-year-old needs help reading a book and the eleven-year-old needs to discuss her thoughts on my dog, Casper while her Mom needs a garbage bag and some scissors please.
And just as I was beginning to explain why it won’t work for the kids to go in the gym by themselves, a five-year-old gets his shoelace stuck in the bathroom door and his big sister wonders if I can help get him unstuck!!
For if undivided attention is the greatest gift, then have I gifted anyone at Challenge House 7 today?
I have been traipsing through the Book of Matthew all month asking myself, “What made Jesus precious and almost irresistible to the crowd? Irrestible to even the lepers and the crippled, the children and the Pharisees?”
In the Book of Isaiah, we are reminded that it wasn’t Christ’s aristocratic looks—He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2).
Certainly, we know it wasn’t Jesus’ status or wealth.
Because He had neither.
So what did our ancestors see in Jesus that made them flock to His side?
Or is the real question?
What did our Precious Jesus see in people that made Him pay attention to every life that crossed His path?
In reading the Bible, I began to highlight the phrase “Jesus saw” each time I found it.
Illuminated with fluorescent yellow marks
My Bible soon became
For Jesus paid constant attention to the face right in front of Him, even a face in a crowd of a thousand…
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. –Mt 9:9
“Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. -Mt 9:22
“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. –Mt 14:14
So what does all of this highlighting and pondering have to do with Challenge House 7 today?
Well, sadly, I’m beginning to realize this–
Sometimes I look at visitors to Challenge House 7
And what I see is
Activities that need completing
Cleanup that needs completing
I see the mud tracks left across the carpet and trash that needs emptying.
But seeing with my eyes is not the same as paying attention with my heart.
To be more like Jesus, I need to do both.
I was humbly reminded of that this afternoon as I wiped chocolate off the kitchen counter.
And a little girl scout asked me for the third time about my dog.
I answered her without looking at her,
Too busy cleaning
“I am listening” I said when she repeated herself
“Listen with your eyes this time,” she said.
That was humbling
Whispering a prayer for forgiveness and offering the greatest gift …
I got down on my knees
Looked her in the face
And I am reminded once again
“Pay attention! Are you deaf? Open your eyes! Are you blind? You’re my servant, and you’re not looking! You’re my messenger, and you’re not listening! The very people I depended upon, servants of God, blind as a bat—willfully blind! You’ve seen a lot, but looked at nothing. You’ve heard everything, but listened to nothing… “ -Isaiah 42:18-20