Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Attention PLEASE!

In a classroom of first graders I watch as they pay attention one second and then just as quickly fade into that beautiful place between day dreaming, sleep watching and distraction. They're six and seven years old...it's almost expected. But not quite.

More times than 10 in a day I caution, encourage or demand that they pay attention. Just because it's nearly impossible for them, doesn't mean I'm allowed to just give up and let them take the first train to dreamland. No, it's my job to continuously nag remind them that something important is being discussed or read or written on the board.

But sometimes, my message is ignored. Sometimes the directions aren't followed. Sometimes, I don't catch the one before the train comes for them. And then...what happens next is near disastrous. It's when the handout requires the knowledge of the material that they missed. The hands raise, they approach the desk, they ask the question ...to which I have just spent 10 minutes answering on the board, and without fail, I give the look. (You know- the one similar to the "mom" look, only from the teacher). And they know...they've been caught. Not paying attention. Not listening. And they've made mistakes on their paper...they know...but they don't know how to fix them. Because that's what happens when you don't pay attention. And so, I explain again why, how, what, when and where to the particular topic and they fix their mistakes and learn the concept and have the power to make better grades.

Oh my! Isn't this just like our own grown up lives. Aren't we really in a lifelong classroom. Trying to pay attention...but distracted by so many other things...new stuff, the neighbors, someone else's family, money, jobs. And all the while God is trying to teach us stuff on the chalkboard of life. But we're looking somewhere else, too tired to see what He's explaining, disinterested in His lesson. And so we miss the truths in the lesson. And the next time we're faced with the worksheet....we don't have the material, the information, the knowledge to implement into life to succeed. And sheepishly (yes, SHEEPishly) we go to the teacher...we admit we weren't listening...and sometimes...He gives us that look of correction.....and then lovingly He goes back over the material...and we apply it and have the power to make better choices and decisions in the future.

Before I judge my first graders too hard, I'm going to try to remember this little lesson. I'm old enough to be paying attention, old enough to read the directions found in His Word and certainly know who to go to when I've got questions about the material of life. Thankfully He's patient with me and knows I'm a little bit of a slow learner. Aren't we all?

Thankful particularly today for His never ending supply of grace and patience with me.

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