What awareness can become

What awareness can become

Seeing and hearing isn’t enough to bring lasting change.

In this third and last post about Awareness Walks, we’ve come to the third and last question Jesus put to his disciples in Mark 8:18:

 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”

Note that Jesus doesn’t simply chide his disciples for inattention.  He calls them out for not internalizing of what they’ve experienced.  That’s where the mind gets involved.  Observation, put through the process of meditation, produces application.

That’s because meditation puts our observations into the framework of Scripture and then works the truth down into our hearts and out into our lives.

How can we connect our observations to the Bible?  There are two ways.

Walk to the Word.  This is what I’ve been describing so far.  For the first two years of my column, I have gone out for a walk and have come back with a number of photos and the beginning of a concept that I felt God was speaking to me about.

For instance, on one memorable walk near dusk in the San Antonio area, I felt God encouraging me to look up. I took photo after photo of surprising things above me, including a huge flight of bats.

That evening, I turned to the Bible – using an online version for the ease of cross-referencing – and did a search for “lift” and found example after example of men and women of Scripture who “lifted their eyes” and saw a significant event happening in front of them. Through this, God taught me the value of connecting attention to anticipation.  Far too often, I have my head down – in work or in petty disappointment – and risk missing some new work he is doing.

Word to the Walk.  This year, I have flipped the process.  Since I started my current (and long) study of Isaiah, I start with an image in Scripture, then go out and ask God to show me something to underline it, to help work it into my brain and heart.

And sometimes, like my recent photo of a dragon banner, I go out with the target in mind, so that I can get a photo to help me in my meditation.

At the core of both of these processes is metaphor.  We are working with images that are anchored to spiritual truth.  As an illustrator, I absolutely love that God’s word is overflowing with such image-making.  It’s how my mind works, too.

But I won’t say every lesson we get from our walks will be metaphorical.  It may be that God wants you to notice a problem your neighbor is having.  Or to open your heart and wallet to a homeless person on a city street.  Or simply to be awed into worship by the beauty or intricacy you see.

But here’s what I’m sure of: God wants to connect his Word to your daily experiences.  He doesn’t want to be confined to your devotional time.  He intends to be present in your neighborhood, your thought processes, your waking and walking life.

An Awareness Walk is just a way to train ourselves to look for him there.

Lord, we want to have a seamless connection in our experience between your voice in your Word and your voice in our world.  Speak to us in both so that we might live more fully for you.

Reader: What metaphor in Scripture or your observations has impacted you recently?  I’d love to hear about it.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.