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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
8:18

Attentive

Attentive

He never steps away.

I had forgotten how demanding small children could be. Not that the three grandkids we have here sans parents are difficult. Just the opposite -- they are about the easiest kids I could imagine. But children under six are, by their very nature, needy. For instance, when did “snacks” become so frequent? It feels like the day is one long meal with breaks for play.

They also need attention. As we explore our town’s most impressive playground, risk and reward await young adventurers, though I note that children’s awareness of risk tends to increase in proportion to how far off the ground they are.

Which is why I stand close with a steadying hand.

God is the ultimate example of vigilant care. The constancy of his focus surpasses anything humans can do:

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep. Ps. 121:3-4

The Bible commentator, Albert Barnes, elaborates:

Shall neither slumber nor sleep - Never slumbers, never ceases to be watchful. Man sleeps; a sentinel may slumber on his post, by inattention, by long-continued wakefulness, or by weariness; a pilot may slumber at the helm; even a mother may fall asleep by the side of the sick child; but God is never exhausted, is never weary, is never inattentive. He never closes his eyes on the condition of his people, on the needs of the world. 

But, to be honest, there are many times when I don’t sense his nearness. It doesn’t feel like I have his attention. Difficulties can make it seem like I’m on my own to figure things out. I know it’s probably my own doing: a kind of home-grown insensibility. Even so, I long for that steadying, reassuring hand on my loosening grip.

John Calvin says experiences like that are folded into God’s wisdom:

For these reasons, though our most merciful Father never slumbers nor sleeps, he very often seems to do so, that thus he may exercise us, when we might otherwise be listless and slothful, in asking, entreating, and earnestly beseeching him to our great good.

So, even the times when he seems distant are a reminder of his closeness. Our cries of “God, are you there?” are not about us waking God, but God awakening us.

Scripture is clear on God’s attentiveness. Both David teaches (and Peter repeats) that the Lord’s “eyes are toward the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.” (Ps. 34:15, 1 Pet. 3:12) The gift of Christ’s righteousness through the cross ensures our inclusion in that focus.

His face is turned to us. His tireless, loving gaze is on us. His shadow of protection falls over us.

Just what his needy children require.

His eyes awake to guard the just,
His ears attend their cry;
When broken spirits dwell in dust,
The God of grace is nigh.     
Isaac Watts

Our watchful Father, your attention is more than we could hope for. We praise you for your constant nearness. Make us more aware of your gaze.

Reader: how often are you aware of God’s attention to you? What helps you be more aware?

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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.

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