Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Eight Second Attention Span

By Brenda Black

She cocks her little blaze-striped nose to one side and stares straight into my eyes intensely, but only briefly. Just when I think I have her undivided attention, a butterfly flits by and I've lost her completely. Sharp, upward ears flop from antennae mode to romp and run position. She's all pup and worth about eight seconds of attention.

At times it's delightful to watch her flit and bounce in playful antics. Other times, not so entertaining. When you desire her full focus and her little mind is gallivanting, it gets frustrating. Callie, a Border Collie pup, is learning the ropes about who is in charge and just where she can wander. She's figuring out which words and intonations mean reward and which signal disapproval. As bright as this little beast seems to be, the lessons must be practiced over and over while she masters just who is THE master.

That's where my son steps in, for this little miss is really his charge. I'm watching them figure it out moment by moment – just who is king and who is the subject. I see glimpses of hope, as long as he has her to himself with no distractions. That's when she looks adoringly up at her tall, two-legged companion and desires to please only him. The true proof of their deepening connection will come when he sequesters her focus in spite of her surroundings. As I watch this new team teach and learn respectively, it becomes apparent the most important components for their strong bond are time, trust, wisdom and obedience.

“Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, 'Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.'

“Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life...

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:1-13, 20-23)
Sounds like more than pups need some training. The Lord is our Master, but do we listen? Do we fix our attention for more than a few seconds on the One who has our best interest at heart? God calls us to “Sit” at His feet. He beckons us to “Stay” in His Word and “Be Still” long enough to hear His commands clearly. But we have to focus in order to truly feel His loving affirmation.

The modern-day attention span has deteriorated drastically. That is evident. Few will stay on task for more than a nano-second without immediate gratification. I find myself less and less able to concentrate on one thing unless I shut out the clutter vying to occupy my brain. I have to turn off the world sometimes by closing my eyes or plugging my ears just so I can think! And I need to do that more intentionally with regards to focusing on my Lord.
I long to gaze into His eyes and stay transfixed long enough to hear from His heart and let it seep into my being. That's going to take more than eight seconds every once in a while. It will take a lifetime of dedication to my Master. The rewards: A bond never broken, trust unleashed, tail-wagging wisdom and joyful obedience.

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