I think he was looking at his cell phone. It may have been the radio. Whatever he was doing, he was not paying attention. And–his inattention put me and others in danger.
On Thursday, I was traveling from Dayton to Decatur–a small town across the Tennessee River. Due to the fact that the HWY between the communities is being widened, there are several construction zones. As I approached one of them–about one mile from Decatur–I noticed the large, orange flagman sign. In other words, I needed to be prepared to stop for a one-way traffic zone. When I neared the flagman, I was watching him closely. I also read the sign in his hand. He was looking down at a device. The flag in the other hand said, “Slow.” As a result, I cautiously passed him–assuming the lane was mine.
I was mistaken.
After I passed the flagman, he began to wave at me–attempting to get my attention. From his reaction, I knew that I had better find a place to pull over. Thankfully, I found a spot on the side of the road (right next to where a supervisor had parked) and was able to avoid the line of oncoming traffic. Has that ever happened to you? It was a first for me! A man assigned to protect me actually put me in danger simply because he wasn’t paying attention. I pointed that out to his supervisor.
Not Paying Attention is Dangerous.
Let me give you another example.
Jodi and I are reading the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke prior to Easter this year. We decided to begin in Mark. Several days ago we read and discussed Mark, chapter two. Due to the urgency of how Mark wrote his gospel account, I was paying attention. However, it was clear in the text that not everyone who encountered Jesus was. I am thinking, in particular, of the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus was providing God’s “new wine” (2:22), and they were offended that He did not keep the traditions of men (2:18, 22-23). I wanted to jump into the text and shout, “Pay attention! God is walking in your midst!”
I suppose we all need that wake-up call from time to time.
Have you had one recently?
Sometimes we hear, “Pay attention! God is walking in your midst!” as we read His Word. Other times the message comes through others–like in a blog. Sometimes experiences remind us that God is for us (Rom. 8:26-39). As His people, we know that from His Word. We rest in His promises. But sometimes–like the Pharisees–we focus on the wrong things. This morning I was challenged to ensure that the description of Mark 4:19 not be true of me.
“And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19; NASB).
“The desires for other things.”
Desires for other things assumes a lack of desire for the right things. The Pharisees had desires. The Apostle Paul clearly teaches us that these were passionate men. But they were passionate for the wrong things. They were zealous for their religion, not for God. Friends, I deeply hope that the same cannot be said of me! I want to desire God, for God is the most desirable! In other words, I want to pay attention to what is most important! And–I do not want to be “unfruitful.” Instead, I want to be someone described as “one on whom seed was sown on…good soil…[someone who] hear[d] the word and accept[ed] it and bear[s] fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (4:20).
Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (4:9).
Let us hear. Let us pay attention. The alternative is danger.