“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Is 48:17)
Recently, our family took a hike along the Greenbrier River Valley Trail. The picture in this post is from that hike. The warm sun penetrated the fall leaves still hanging overhead on the trees. The only sound other than shifting rocks under our feet was the barely noticeable trickling river current. I could not help but think of the “quiet waters” David describes in Psalm 23.
The gentle flowing of river water soothes the soul. This is the point of the verses we read today. The peace that is from God flows like a river. Not on-again, off-again peace dependent on circumstances and emotions, but peace that soothes deep in the soul. I want that!
The surprise comes in how we find the path to this peace. Isaiah says, “if only you had paid attention.” This is not the “slap-your-hand” kind of pay attention that we all heard from impatient school teachers, but the “I love you and want the best for you” plea to pay attention. He “teaches you what is best for you.” The exchange is not a burdensome one. God wants what is best for us and teaches us that way, even though we often ignore Him. He “directs you in the way you should go.” I hear this verse and wonder, “when did He teach me? How did He direct me?” I know deep down that that the problem is that I do not pay attention.
Shouting is not God’s usual way. He prefers whispering, the still small voice. He comes to the door and knocks, but does not barge in, even though He brings the greatest of feasts. Will we quiet our world? Will we become attentive? Will we turn off the radio, turn down the TV, put away the phone, and become attentive to His voice?
Paying attention is like that river that is always flowing. We don’t pay attention once; we become attentive people. Attentive people give singular focus. Multitasking divides attention. Constant rushing unsettles and distracts. Fenelon put it this way,
“God does not cease speaking, but the noise of the creatures without, and of our passions within, deafens us, and stops our hearing. We must silence every creature, we must silence ourselves, to hear in the deep hush of the whole soul, the ineffable voice of the spouse. We must bend the ear, because it is a gentle and delicate voice, only heard by those who no longer hear anything else.” (Fenelon, as quoted in Seeking the Face of God, Gary Thomas, p. 105)
To become attentive, we read and meditate on His Word slowly as if we are reading a love letter from our beloved. We listen when we pray instead of always talking. We watch expectantly as we call on Him throughout the day. We hear Him through the conversations of each day.
Would you describe yourself as a person who is attentive to God? If not, what are some specific ways you can move towards becoming attentive? Think beyond your morning time with God, although that is a great place to start. Our days are filled with moments we can pay attention to God: in the car, while walking, when we are waiting before we sleep. He is constantly speaking. Are we listening? Pay attention and enjoy His peace like a river.