I remember it like yesterday. I was in eighth grade, sitting in my math class of about 30 students. In our school there were four math classes (A, B, C, and D), with A having the highest math students and D the lowest. (I was in class B.) One Monday, an administrator walked in and announced the names of two students being “demoted” to class C. My name was called. The two of us stood up and were ushered down the hall into the room with the C group. Ouch! That was quite humbling! Looking back, I know the reason for the demotion…I didn’t pay attention! A couple of my friends and I whispered a lot while the teacher had his back to us as he wrote on the chalkboard. On top of that, I allowed myself to daydream and missed several homework assignments. I think the way the school handled my “math demise” left a lot to be desired, but, ultimately, I had no one to blame but myself. This week I thought about Psalm 81. Here we find God’s offer of amazing grace and bountiful provision. He proclaims His willingness to give of himself and teach all that is needed for life and godliness. The Lord reminded His people of His steadfast love and how, in mercy, He had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt. He said, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But my people would not listen to me…. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies…” (Psalm 81:10-14a). The Lord promises hope and a future for His people, if only we would listen. From reading the Bible, I believe the worst sins are not what first come to mind. It seems the “gateway” sin leading to all the others is the everyday ignoring of God. We choose not to listen to Him and fill our schedules and minds with distractions. I am challenging myself to think about the Lord more and pay attention to Him every hour in my daily life. With all the cares of life, it takes a conscious effort on my part to pay attention to God. Even though I can’t do eighth grade math over again, I don’t have to fail in my walk with God. Hear again the heart cry of God as He pleads with us, “If my people would but listen to me!” May our desires and choices in life proceed from our rapt attention to our Lord and God! He will not steer us wrong.
Pastor Mark Boucher