The line at the coffee shop barely inches forward. You sigh in frustration at what is taking so long. Can that guy make up his mind already?
Finally you step up to place your order and hardly look at the barista as you hand her your money. You begin your social media scrolling and five minutes later (too late), your coffee is finally ready. You walk out the door to your car while answering a text. A phone reminder alerts you of your tasks for the day: Work. Homework. Shopping. Birthday party. Deadlines. Slipping on your sunglasses, you pull out of the parking lot. No time to waste.
In the midst of your hurry, you missed it.
You didn’t see the man at the counter who counted out all his change to scrape up enough money for a coffee. You looked right past the barista who waited for you to look at her to see if you’d notice exhaustion in her eyes. You ignored the adorable child making faces at you while you liked posts on your phone. You didn’t see the sun that had just begun peeking out of the clouds in the most beautiful rays of light while you shielded your face, annoyed at the early brightness.
I missed it. Unfortunately, this is me too often.
We have this gift called awareness, but we’re not using it. We leave it unopened, tucked away in our back pocket.
Awareness is the ability to observe something or someone. To take in the fullness of a situation with all our senses. To perceive and think and wonder.
The Lord gave us all kinds of ways to experience the world. One of our five senses is always in action if not all working together. Yet in our rushed small worlds, distractions are vying for our attention at every corner, numbing our ability to be aware.
Don’t Miss Jesus
Our awareness is what allows us to experience God’s constant presence. He’s always with us, but do we know it? Are we aware of Him? We can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit—what He’s saying, where He’s leading, and how we can best follow Him.
In Mark 5, a synagogue ruler, Jairus, pleaded with Jesus to come and heal his daughter who was dying. While Jesus was on the way to heal her, a woman who suffered from a bleeding condition came up behind Him and touched His clothing. She was healed instantly, and Jesus perceived “that power had gone out from him” (v. 30). He turned around and asked who had touched Him. The woman explained that she knew He could heal her. Jesus listened, and then He spoke, affirming that it was her faith that made her well.
Stopping for the woman probably felt like an inconvenience to the disciples. Did they really have time for this woman? They were supposed to be on a mission to heal the daughter of Jairus and Jesus was wasting time! And in the meantime, someone came from the house of Jairus to declare that his daughter had died.
Yet, Jesus still went to the supposedly dead daughter of Jairus. She immediately arose when He took her by the hand and spoke to her. “Wasted” time is intentional to Jesus.
Paul tells us that God is “before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Are we seeing Him in all things? When we are aware in every moment, we invite Jesus to help us see what He wants us to see.
Four Ways to Become More Aware
There is no exact formula, but here are four practical ways to develop a better sense of awareness.
1. Slow Down.
Hurrying is detrimental to awareness. We move from one activity to another, all while so focused on the next thing. When we slow down, we force ourselves to focus on the moment. Slowing down lets us be fully present. Eat slow. Give glory to God for the taste of that food! Stand in line at the store and observe the people around you. Go on a walk and take in as many sights and sounds as you can.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Ps. 19:1)
God’s glory is all around us. Let’s not miss His beauty and life happening all around us.
As much as we may want to become people of awareness, we cannot do it in our own strength. We need to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). When we pray for awareness, our hearts and minds start to see the way God wants us to see. Praying for awareness also opens our eyes to our sin and keeps us from falling into pitfalls.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41)
Watch and pray.
3. Pay Attention.
Life is happening right in front of us. Paying attention to life means becoming a noticer of what is going on right now. It means putting down your phone to be present with people. It means dying to our own selfish agendas and asking how we can glorify God in the moment.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
God gave us the gift of awareness. When we practice it, we are less susceptible to the devil’s schemes and more attentive to the Lord’s grace.
4. Get in the Word.
Practicing awareness is a habit that takes time. We can get better at it by digging into Scripture. The gospels tell story after story of how Jesus saw people and loved them. Studying the Bible also helps us know God deeper. When we know His Word and delight in it, we have wisdom to share His love with others when He gives us an opportunity.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col. 4:5–6)
I’m praying this prayer today for myself and for you: Jesus, make us aware today. Help me see the people You want me to see. Help me act how You want me to act. Help me be sensitive to Your Spirit’s leading, and make me aware of Your presence every moment.