Last Sunday we watched the video clip called, “Test Your Awareness. Do the Test.” The video had us count the number of times the folks in white jerseys passed the basketball. We were all busy watching the ball and the white shirts. There were people in darker jerseys mixing around as well. We could see them as we concentrated on the white jerseys and the ball. The passing stopped and the announcer gave the total number of passes. There were 13. Most everyone in church raised their hand that they got 13. Then the announcer asked, “did you see the moon walking bear?” Then the video was played again and lo and behold, there was a man in a bear costume moon walking through the middle of all the passing of the ball, right in the middle. We all had a good laugh because we did not see the bear.
The lesson was that while we concentrate on one thing, there are other things going on. As powerful as our observations may be, we miss things right in front of us.
It always amazes me that when an accident takes place and there are witnesses; how many different accounts there are of the same accident. Some of the accounts actually clash as if they did not see the same event. I have been in court as a witness and was surprised by the varying stories of the same thing I saw. Was my observation correct? Well, from my vantage point it was, but another person had a slightly different account. Often our perceptions of truth are viewed from where we sit. In law, the Bible as well, there has to be corroborating testimonies in order for there to be a conviction or a judgment.
When I was a kid my grandmother Lewis took me to the county fair. We found a drinking fountain that would come on with a surge that would spray the face of the person looking for a cool drink of water. She said, “Let’s sit over here on the bench and watch, this could be fun.” So, we sat there and observed person after person deal with the surge of water. It was fun. We laughed and talked about the various reactions. Observation is an important part of life. Jesus was sitting watching the treasury at the temple as people came and gave their gifts. He had observed people praying in public. He sat at the well in Samaria. Stopping to observe helps build our awareness.
Life’s pace has certainly picked up. We barely allow ourselves to have a moment of quiet. We have at our fingertips so many devices of communication and programs that pressing us for attention. It is hard for us to imagine a time, not that long ago, that books and reading were the family entertainment. Or, families listening to the radio for evening programs of entertainment. But, with all the conveniences, we have lost some of the connectivity of humanity.
The challenge for the people of faith is to once again become aware of our surroundings. Some people may aggravate us, but do we know their situation? Have we stopped long enough to notice things around us? Driving a car along the road at 60 MPH is much different from walking along the road. Driving we often just see the distant view because we cannot focus on the things near because of speed. Walking we notice everything along the road, the flowers, the weeds, the junk that has been thrown, every pebble, crack in the road, everything comes into sharp focus.
Likewise, as we work on our strategic vision, things will come into sharp focus. The valley becomes a town, the town becomes people, people become a person, a person becomes an acquaintance, and maybe that person becomes a friend, and hopefully that friend becomes a follower of Jesus. Even if they do not, the kindness of the Lord can be extended to them. At the least, we can plant seeds and see if God does something with the seed.
I pray we become much more aware. Maybe we can see the moon walking bear.