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How to place our attention

Eugene Peterson’s new book On Living Well is like a small devotional. The subtitle says “brief reflections on wisdom for walking in the way of Jesus.” I’ve been slowly chewing on it, reading a tiny snippet most mornings. 

This morning he asked a question. He said, “What gets our attention?…How do we distinguish between the central and the peripheral? How do we purchase a personal place to stand in the pushing and jostling crowd of people who claim to tell us the truth of our lives?”1

Right now I have two interlocking answers.2 

1. I practice listening to God’s voice. I do this through reading the Bible, reading the lives of believers who have followed Jesus before me, participating in church services, spending time in prayer and solitude. I want to recognize God’s voice even if the world is a vortex, screaming different ideas and attempting to pull me different directions. 

2. I pay attention to my own life. Just because something is good, does not mean it is good for me. Sometimes it is exactly the spot for my neighbor to step into, it’s a weight God has given a friend to carry. Other times, knowing where God is asking me to participate is how I distinguish between the central and the peripheral. 

God’s voice is a voice I recognize. Here He is at work in the world already, redeeming, transforming, remaking. And I hear my own in response: this is how and why I am here. 

1 This selection is from page 11.
2 Subject to change with time and maturity.

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