In my previous post, I wrote about the need to listen. In part two, I want us to consider our need to observe. Just as we often have difficulty listening, we often fail to observe for a variety of reasons.
We use the word observe in a couple of different ways. We may talk about observing the law and our focus is on obedience. However, when we talk about observing a sunset, our focus is usually on enjoyment. As I thought about these two very different reactions to the same word, I began to realize that maybe they are not so different after all.
From a Christian point of view, when we think about observing God’s commands, we define observe as including both the aspect of noticing something and then responding appropriately to it. God doesn’t simply say, “Look at my commands!” Yes, we must look at them. We must take notice of what God has said through His Word, to “gaze intently into His perfect law”. We need to pay attention to the work God is doing in and through us in transforming us to be what He wants us to be. God has given us His very own Spirit and we need to “see” the work He is doing so that we can be a more accurate representative of Jesus.
But we have to move beyond simply noticing, or seeing, when we observe. To observe correctly, we must respond appropriately. It is hard enough to “see”. The distractions and busy-ness of life often keep us from focusing on the things God has placed in front of us to observe. We stumble through our Christian life because we are not paying attention to where we are going. Yet many times when we do take in the information that is needed, we still stumble because we fail to have an appropriate response to what is “seen”. This is where I think the two examples that I started with connect. The appropriate response to “seeing” God’s commands is to obey them. An appropriate response to seeing a sunset is to enjoy it as part of God’s incredible creativity.
When we feel “lost” in our spiritual walk, it is a good idea to stop and take a look around. Ask yourself some basic questions: How did I get here? Does anything look familiar? What do I see and hear around me? What dangers currently exist? How do I get back to where I was? As we ask these questions, and genuinely seek answers to them, we begin to recognize the correct responses that we ought to make. As we begin to put our faith into action and actually do what we observe needs done, we begin the process of truly “observing all that [He] commands”.
I pray that when we observe, we do so not only with our senses but with our actions as well.