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Attention Span

O come, let us adore him … Read on as our blog manager, Carla Foote, shows us how …


Attention Span

By Carla Foote

In a recent Sunday sermon, our pastor encouraged us to focus ourselves on the practices that help us draw near to God. There isn’t some new thing that will get us through these complicated and wearisome days, but rather focusing on what has sustained each of us, and generations before, in our pursuit of God. Daily prayer, the Bible, remembering the Table and Jesus’ work of redemption, and gathering together as the body (even if virtually).

That thought was ruminating in my mind as I took my daily walk later in the week (another practice that helps my body and soul in this season). The focusing on practices reminded me of a perspective that started working its way into my soul some years ago, when visiting an order of Catholic sisters in Mexico.

My husband and I were visiting our daughter, who had taken a semester off college to volunteer at a shelter for migrants in northern Mexico. The sisters all had various roles in running the shelter. One day we gathered for a meal in their apartment, and I noticed a large sign on their bulletin board. Adoremos a Jesús. Even with my limited Spanish, the meaning was clear. But I asked about it, because obviously it held some importance as a reminder.

I learned that this was the 5-year emphasis for their order, to Adore Jesus. That’s it. For 5 years. As I let that sink in, I noted that fact that in my Christian experience, I had never been part of some emphasis for 5 years! Sometimes there was a year-long Bible study, but the norm seemed to be an 8-week study, or maybe 12 weeks. But 5 years with one focus! Never.

The thought of a long focus on one aspect of faith became a layer of my learning on that trip (along with so much that I learned about migration issues and the human side of news stories). But I’m not sure it changed anything in my spiritual practice.

Then a couple of years later, there was another visit with our daughter in a different part of Mexico. We spent a week with her towards the end of her year of research on migration in Guadalajara. She was living in a home with sisters from the same order. They had a large home and had several young women as boarders. They also offered guest rooms, so we were able to stay there during our visit. On the wall of the small chapel, I noticed the same sign. Adoremos a Jesús. Of course, we were still in the 5-year period of that emphasis! Even if I had forgotten, they had not. The leadership of the order felt that this was what God was calling them to for a 5-year period. And they kept on adoring Jesus, throughout those 5 years.

What can I learn from this long, slow, consistent practice of faith? If I embrace, rather than fight against this idea, then I can affirm that God is unchanging and woos me to draw near, as he always has, for me, and for generations before me, and after me. I also can acknowledge that the American culture I live in tends not to affirm this long trajectory of faith, rather touts the quick “success” formula with a short attention span.

As I was thinking about my attention span and the long trajectory of faith this week, I wondered about eternity – the ultimate long haul. There is no evidence of boredom in the thousands saying “Worthy is the Lamb” that we read in Revelation 5. The awe and wonder of the Holy God and his presence seem sufficient to adore and praise forever and ever.

I’m still learning to keep my attention focused on the long, rather than the quick. The God I will adore for all eternity is the same One wooing me to draw near right now, right here, today, tomorrow, next year, and the next, and the next decade, and for as long as I have breath. I still live in my human frailty, and the culture around me, but the more I respond to God’s call to go long, the more I am able to focus my attention on him now, practicing for eternity.

Adoremos a Jesús … O Come Let Us Adore Him …

Carla Foote is the blog manager for the Really blog, and does other freelance work through Fine Print Editorial. She enjoys working on a variety of editorial and writing projects. She also serves on the board of Magazine Training International and has helped train Christian editors around the world through in-person and online courses. When she isn't working at her computer, she is probably walking through the neighborhood, puttering in her garden, or reading a good novel.


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