Living in an Immaterial World
by Laura Boyles
Topic: Being Attentive – Acts 17:15-34 – Learning to be attentive to God’s presence in every moment of our lives and the world around us.
We live in an immaterial world that scrolls past us– our thumbs habitually swiping and our eyes scanning for meaning amidst a blur of tweets, emojis, and constant contact with a community of “friends” online who might not even be all that friendly.
We are left to determine if what we read, see, and experience online is real. In fact, we are learning that a number of stories and posts need verification. We must remind ourselves that on personal social media platforms many posts are simply the highlight reel of people’s lives, projecting only the “good stuff.” We then end up spending more time reading between the lines than through them. It’s easy to let the immaterial consume our reality.
A constant barrage of information, both absurd and relevant, clamors for our attention and time.
How then do we cut out the informational noise in order to be attentive to God’s presence in every moment of our lives and the world around us?
I tune my ears to hear God as He speaks to me through His children. As a mother and teacher, I spend my days absorbed in the details of their care and development and counsel. Sometimes it feels like the fountain of youth; other days I fully acknowledge the toll it takes. But there’s no denying the proximity to God when I surround myself with his littlest creations and delight in them the way He does.
My 6-year-old son completed a school assignment for Christian Education titled “The ABCs of God.” He labeled a grid with words that fit his view of God, from “A to Z,” or in his case, from “Angels to Zoe.” His list included coordinating illustrations, and his renderings were simultaneously simplistic (“Angels, Big, Creator…”) and profound.
“F is for Faith” was illustrated with a large heart surrounding a smaller one, “because faith is the love of God that becomes love for other people.” He had perfectly illustrated faith in action.
“V is for Vast” appeared as few small white dots surrounded by darkness. Indeed God is vast, dear child, but where have you heard that utterly perfect word?
“I is for ‘I am’.” A stick figure was labeled with his own name, Bill. “God made me, and I am like him,” he told me. I pondered how being created in God’s image means we do God’s work in the world and the depth of his simple statement.
My favorite, and his too, was his depiction for “R is Real.” In it, a man is picturing something in his mind. Bill explained, “He’s sticking out his tongue and blowing a raspberry at the idea because he doesn’t believe it’s real. BUT LOOK! The real thing, the thing he’s thinking about, IS RIGHT BEHIND HIM– and he doesn’t even notice! Sometimes people don’t believe in God, but HE’S RIGHT HERE!” Bill was incredulous.
So was I.
Do I scoff at what is real? Do I overlook the hand of God in my life? Am I so busy that I scroll past what God is showing me or dismiss the thought he posted in my mind?
It’s so tempting to blow a raspberry at it all when we are scheduling every moment of our families’ lives between 2:45 and 8:30 pm, or working in a frenzy Monday through Friday, just to spend Saturday cleaning up our messes and Sunday getting ready for the next one. It’s tempting to dismiss God in a world of friending and following everyone else.
God calls us to an “A to Z” childlike faith. In Lent we are also called to tune out and “pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal.” Make that your status update and notice how God works in your life these 40 days. Or just go talk to a 6-year-old. They definitely keep it real.
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