If I can have your attention, please.

Stopped at a stoplight, I had my mind off listening to Beautiful, Beautiful by Francesca Battistelli when I began to notice the passenger in the van next to me.  It was hard not to notice him.  He was rocking out to music.

I didn’t think he would appreciate being watched, so I returned to staring ahead.  However, it was hard not to pay attention.  He began head banging.  I wondered what exactly was going on.  Was he trying to get my attention, or just being really silly?  I turned to see.  He wasn’t looking my direction, and I went back to staring ahead, convinced (with relief) he was simply rocking out.

But as the stoplight unceasingly stayed red, I became convinced this was not the case.  He stopped whacking his head around long enough to–I thought–gauge if I was looking.  Then he continued.

I decided to give one last look.  This time, when I looked at him, he stopped head banging and looked straight at me.  He was probably a teenager, or in his early twenties.  He gave me this cocky look of Aha, you noticed me, which, as I gazed at him, turned quickly to realization that I was, actually, looking at him.  He hadn’t planned to this point and the smile faded as his eyes widened, understanding for the first time that he had just set himself up for an extreme crash and burn if I was not amused.

I realized that my look of nonamusement (which was really just me trying to figure out what on earth was going on) was about one second away from extremely embarrassing him.  I smiled in an attempt to look sage, kind, and a tad bit motherly.

He appreciated it.  He seemed very proud of himself.  And, as (at last) the light changed and both our vehicles moved forward (mine intentionally slower), he stuck his arms out the window and began headbanging again.

It might be easy to make fun of him, but I don’t want to.  He was just a kid, trying to get attention.  I remember going through a stage where I would wave at random people to see if they would wave back.  Loneliness, wanting attention–I get it.

Instead, I prayed for this attention-hungry kid.  And almost immediately, God brought something else to my mind: how very much all of us are like this boy.

We may not all throw our heads around to get attention, but we all want attention desperately.  And who do we want it from more than anything else?  God.

And we do some pretty unusual things to try to get it from Him.

Some people throw themselves into a rebellion against God to try to get His attention.  Others scream at Him.  Others make fun of Him.  Others try to do good stuff to please Him.  And still others just give up.

But is it really this hard to get God’s attention?  Is He really not very interested in us?  Does He leave His cell phone off most of the time?  Does He block our calls?

God gives us incredibly interesting analogies for Himself that I would never pick if I was God.  One is a Father.  A Father?   Sometimes we don’t think too much about it, but it’s only because we’re not thinking from a heavenly perspective!  The best I can come to understanding how strange this must seem to the angels is something like this:

Suppose that a President walked into a maximum security prison and said, “Who would like to come with me and be my child?”  Would that make headlines?  Might he be removed from office?

One of the many good newses about God is that there is no one higher than Him, and He doesn’t take votes, so nobody can remove Him from office.  But if they could, I guarantee you they would.  The Pharisees would have first dibs.  God’s love seemed crazy to them–that God would want to adopt sinners?  They were angry enough to plot to kill Him.

Here’s another mind-blogging analogy about God.  He describes Himself as a Shepherd.  Have you ever had the opportunity to take care of squirrels?  I haven’t.  But I can kinda imagine what it would be like.  Would you volunteer for the job of overseeing a thousand squirrels–free squirrels who are not caged?  I wouldn’t dare.

But God dares to oversee us.  Not only does He oversee us, but He gives us free choice to follow Him or not.  Sometimes when I think of a Shepherd, I think of quiet sheep grazing on pasture hills.  But is this really how we are?  No way.  We are like wild squirrels running hither and thither.  Only by God’s great love do we have the chance to be shepherded.  It wasn’t a job anybody else wanted to take on–accept for Satan, who wanted to devour us whole.  God steps up as Shepherd–Shepherd!–to lead the way to Heaven for us.  Incredible.

And then there’s when God describes Himself as the Bridegroom of the church.  Just like a man becomes vulnerable to win the heart of a woman, so Jesus became vulnerable to win our hearts [1].

A man might become vulnerable to win the heart of a woman he loves–but would he become vulnerable for a woman of no regard with nothing to offer who has sold herself to anyone who would buy her?  But this is the story of God, revealed through the Old and New Testament.

With a God like this, it doesn’t seem like it would be hard to get His attention.  So why does it seem like it’s so hard?

Why doesn’t God write messages in the sky for us?  Why doesn’t He usually talk to people in an audible voice?  Why doesn’t He create youtube videos from Heaven to send to us, so that we might know we have His attention?

The problem with this is, though, it supposes that God hasn’t tried to get our attention in the most powerful way possible–and He has.

I am convinced that if the death of God on a cross and His resurrection from the grave won’t get people’s attention, then nothing will . . except for eternal judgment, at which point it is too late to believe [2].

God has let us know–unmistakably, irrevocably–that He cares about us.  But He has not violated our opportunity to have faith.  If He gave us all the proofs we ask for, we would have no faith.  By Biblical definition:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

And the Bible makes it clear: the way to God is through faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us on the cross.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB)

So, while we’re trying to get God’s attention, we’re missing the fact that God has taken the greatest possible effort to get our attention.

There’s one last name God uses to describe Himself that we’ll talk about here: Advocate.

Jesus is described as our Advocate.

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. (1 John 2:1, NLT)

I know people who have tried to get me into trouble, but rarely people who have tried to get me out of trouble.  Those are true friends.  But people who can actually pay for my trouble?  I don’t have any friends like that, except one.  That’s Jesus.

There is no one in all the world who could ever make themselves as  approachable as Jesus.  Jesus opens His arms to us at the cross.  We never need to be attention-seeking again.  We have all the love we could possibly need–and more–in our Advocate, Jesus Christ.  He died so we could receive the attention we desperately seek from God, rather than permanent separation.

We don’t have to do crazy things or try to be worthy to get God’s attention.

God is trying to get ours.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8, NLT)

[1] Concept from Wild at Heart by John Eldridge and other authors who have described this phenomena.

[2] Inspired by a powerful statement my pastor made in a sermon.

Published in: on March 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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