I don’t have a short attention span, I just … Oh look, a butterfly!
I don’t have a short attention span, I just … O look, a squirrel!
I don’t have a short attention span, I just … O look, chocolate!
I don’t have a short attention span, I just … O look, bling!
I don’t have a short attention span, I just … Did you SEE THAT?
I love hummingbirds, and they’ve nested in my back yard. One built her nest in my eight-foot palm tree. A couple of them fight over the bird feeder.
But what I get a “kick” out of most is when the mama bird hovers right in front of me, staring into my face. The focused attention is simply awesome, and I’m always a bit sad when she flits away into the high trees. I talk to her and keep wishing she’d linger longer. But no … her attention span is, well, like a hummingbird – short and sweet.
One day, after one of these short encounters, I had the thought: “Dawn, is your God-attention span growing, or do you flit in and out of time with the Lord, distracted by other things?
Maybe you know what I’m referring to. Have you ever been deeply involved in Bible study or prayer, only to be distracted by something else? Have you left time with God for something more “pressing” at the moment? Or just something that captured your imagination?
Sad to say, I have.
It’s like talking face-to-face with someone, and then your cell phone rings, and you turn away to chat on the phone. (If you feel it’s important, you might say, “Excuse me, I have to take this” before you turn away.) But most of the time, it can wait.
And if you had eyes in the back of your head, you might see the person with a “Who am I – chopped liver?” look. Rude.
Only, when we’re alone with the Creator of the Universe, is anything else really all that important?
Short of a fire in the house or a choking baby – those sorts of emergencies – most things can wait when God is speaking to us, don’t you think?
Some things have helped me not flit around when I’m with God.
- After I ask God to help me focus, I ask Him to help me pinpoint any possible distractions I might face, and I try to deal with them ahead of time.
- I prepare for my time with God. I turn off disruptive technology (phone, TV, magazines, etc.) – anything I think might distract or disturb.
- I find a place where I won’t be disturbed (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). (Ladies, that’s hard with a little one, I know, unless it’s nap time … and then you feel like a nap.) I have a regular place, stocked with all I’ll need so I don’t have to get up and down for things.
- I make sure I have paper and pen to jot down a reminder note when I’m “distracted” by something I do need to remember. Then it’s immediately back to the Lord with a “What was that You were saying, Lord?”
- I practice stillness. I am retraining my brain to focus and “be still” before God (Psalm 46:10). (It’s hard work, because I have one of those Type A+, crazy-monkeys-running-around brains!)
- I pursue God. (I’ve found that what I pursue – hunt for with intensity – will capture my attention!) Psalm 27:8 – “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
- I also have a plan, so I don’t just flit around from verse to verse. There are specific things I want to accomplish. I use a Bible study, a book with scriptures and questions, or a study I create on my own – researching a topic.
- I find when I pray aloud, it’s easier for me to focus. (One way to drown-out my chattering monkeys!)
- Besides my own flitting flesh, the enemy wants to destroy my times of intimacy with God, so I ask the Holy Spirit to help me persevere in His grace. I need a lot of grace. My spirit is willing, but my body (my brain) is weak (Matthew 26:36-41). The Lord who created my brain can also control it, but I need to ask for and rely on His help.
- I praise God for the times I do spend with Him. (Beating myself up doesn’t help.)
I’m sure there are so many other ways to grow in our “God-attention Span.” What helps you not “flit” in and out of God’s presence during your Quiet Time?