Thirty-Fifth Day of Lent

John 16:1-15

It's amazing to me how little attention I can pay to last minute instructions. As a teenager, how many times did I back out of the garage, forgetting to unplug the car in the dead of winter having just heard the instructions from my dad, “Don't forget to unplug the car before you back it out!” Doh. How many times have I forgotten to take out the trash, feed the dog or cats, or turn off the lights after having heard those requests moments before?

Why is it so hard to pay attention to final words of instruction? In this text Jesus is exhorting his disciples that in a little while he is leaving so please, pay attention to what he is saying. “I am telling you these things so you won't fall away,” “I am telling you these things now, so when they happen, you will remember I warned you,” he says. The urgency in our Lord's voice as he shared these last words with his closest companions is compelling. Soon he would be asking them to stay awake, to not grow weary, to be fully present. Yet the rest of the story reveals that until he appeared to them after the resurrection, the disciples forgot everything; the prophetic words, the warnings, everything.

Are we listening? Do we listen at all?

I don't always listen well because I fail in being fully present in so many conversations, including my conversations with Jesus. My mind wanders, my attention is distracted (thank-you ENFP) and honestly, sometimes I am just not that interested. It takes work and is worth the effort to be present. Jesus asks me to be present, to listen to him and pay close attention to his words. Yet if my life experience reveals anything it is that I too easily fall flat and hard when troubles arise or when disappointments come because I just wasn't paying attention.

I want to be present. I want Jesus' words to be a part of all my consciousness. I want his words to be constantly on my heart and mind so when the vagaries of life hit me, I'm not thrown or tossed about. Faith requires alert presence with the one who is always present.

Arden Gustafson
Norquay Evangelical Covenant Church
Norquay, SK