Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, God, Spirituality > Careful attentiveness to God

Careful attentiveness to God

Another significant word I heard this week came from a student during a lively discussion we had on the difference between missions, mission (of God) cat lookingand missional.  Henry had taken a recent class on missional spirituality and it had changed his life.  He said that missional spirituality is “giving careful attentiveness to what God is doing in the world and to the person of God.”  He said this concept has transformed the way he lives his life.  There is something here for me, something which attracts me.

Yes, “careful attentiveness”—requires me to be alert, observing and listening. Might we even say, it requires me to have surrendered my agendas?  To what God is doing—sounds a bit like Blackaby’s Experiencing God.  Don’t put God into a box, don’t assume or presume the way in which he will work.  Expect in a sense to be surprised at any time with His activity and yet, it is not a passive, for I will be actively paying attention to the activity of God.  Of course, it requires knowledge of the character of God and the humble discernment as I ask, is God at work in this place, event, person etc?  And “careful attentiveness to God Himself.”   So, I am keep my gaze focused carefully on God even as I am looking around in the world to see where He is in action.  I reflect and meditate and enjoy who He is and revel in my relationship with Him.  There is joy and mystery and movement and wonder and delight and much more than I could ever imagine.

Just remembered the language that Eugene Peterson uses to describe spirituality, in his Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. He says

Spirituality is “transcendence vaguely intermingled with intimacy”( 27)  “Living, living fully and well, is at the heart of all serious spirituality.” 29   In order to be spiritual, we need to maintain vigilance and attentiveness.  Vigilance is “discerning the de-spiritualization of spirituality” by a “continual and careful reading of Holy Scripture.” 30 Attentiveness is “noting the many and profligate ways in which God gives life, renews life, blesses life,” and is  “nurtured in common worship and prayer.” 30

  1. Charlie
    August 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Ever since Blackaby’s Experiencing God series I have struggled somewhat with the “find out where God is working and then join him” model of ministry. As I look around it seems to me that there are many ways in which the hand of God is at work, some of them big but most of them very unassuming.

    • August 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm

      Yes, I think I share the same struggle. God is at work in so many places but I cannot join him in all those places–so what do I do? For me, the focus is on giving intentional and careful attentiveness to God and seeking to see where he may be at work in the world around me. It is a restatement hopefully in a helpful way of Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence. As I see God at work, it can fill me with praise and gratitude and there may be times as I am also attentive to Him, that he may tell me that there needs to be engagement on my part. So, not a new way of thinking but it maybe a slight adjustment in practice–at least for me. We shall see how this works out in the weeks ahead–that is the test! Feel free to remind me and ask.

      • Anonymous
        August 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm

        Well said. Unless God shows otherwise, being attentive and responsive to what He is doing in the world around us does seem more practical.

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