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On the Side - January 2015

Paying Attention

By Carol Shrader

All four of my children are at a party tonight. My husband is on call at the hospital. And so I have the extremely rare gift of a couple of hours as the only person in my house.

I confess to you that it feels decadent. At first I sat just listening to the still quiet of the night. Then I glanced around and saw the remote. Sweet goodness, I never ever drive the remote control in this house. I didn’t even hesitate to grab it and turn straight to the Hallmark channel. For some reason lately, I am in a sappy, make-me-cry love story kind of mood.

You should know that I don’t like to be home alone on a regular basis. Before the credits rolled I was ready to have my crew back filling the house with noise, vying for my attention and making me laugh (or cry or scream – I should keep it real.). But sitting here tonight, I think back to when the triplets were preschoolers and Dad was a resident. The days were crammed full of my little magpies chirping at me all day long. I could then – and still can – hear three different stories being told simultaneously. We even developed our own brand of “forgetting dust” for when the trio needed to tell me the same story….one triplet could tell me, then sprinkle me with the dust and then the next one could re-tell the same story…yes, three times. Everyone needed a turn. (Today, at 17, they still try to use “forgetting dust” on me!)

So at the end of the day, when our bedtime routine was wrapped up and my three little monkeys were tucked into their beds, I would collapse on the couch and enjoy the quiet, the peace, the calm. I didn’t dare turn on the TV for fear of disturbing my munchkins. And frankly, the quiet was welcome. Besides, the evening paper would be waiting for me. I savored reading it from cover to cover (and no these weren’t the dark ages, I could have gotten my news from the internet, but the former journalist in me loves newsprint!). And then, I would delve into the crossword puzzle. I have no idea why that was so appealing during that season of my life. Perhaps, I needed to stretch my brain muscles, do a little workout. Perhaps it was simply pre-Facebook and I was bored. I don’t know. But I do know that I grew to look forward to my quiet, end-of-the-day crossword puzzle as a treat, a reward for my hard work.

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ “ Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

My NIV Application Commentary draws a picture of God coming into a battle and demanding that the fighting CEASE. God is demanding that all pay attention to Him. My mental image of this is less about wartime and more about standing in the middle of a family room of wrestling children, demanding that they listen. To. Me. Right. Now.

You can picture it, right? And when God had the attention of all around him he told them: “Only when you stop. Only when you are still. Only when you give me the gift of your attention can you recognize that I am the exalted One, I am Yahweh.”

I so understand. In the busyness that can wrap us up it is often impossible to focus on God. In the busyness we forget where our strength comes from. We forget who promises to protect and sustain us.

Be still. For it is in the stillness that we can recognize God. It is in the stillness that we remember who gives us strength, who provides our refuge, who is a fortress of protective care in the midst of whatever our circumstances.

Be still, dear ones. And in the stillness, KNOW that God offers something far better than a sappy movie and a crossword puzzle. He offers knowledge, knowledge of His perfect love.

Carol Shrader

Carol is wife to Wade and mom to three high school seniors and her nine-year-old, little red. She is currently threatening to sprinkle the seniors with forgetting dust so they will NOT graduate from high school this year.

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