Thrive: Pay Attention to the Road – Pam Durso

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For these days of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday on April 20, Christians around the world will participate in the spiritual discipline of “giving up” or perhaps “taking on.” The intent of Lent is not just to give up or take on. The intent is to pay attention. Lent calls us to be attentive to our relationship with God, to our connection with others. Lent also asks us to be attention to our own our bodies and to our souls. In these weeks of March—as we walk through Lent together—the weekly devotions will focus on what Matthew 7-9 has to teach us about paying attention.

Pay Attention to the Road

“Go through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road is wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.” —Matthew 7:13-14 (CEB)

I am a West Texas girl—born in the town Big Spring. The land there is flat. The trees are small. You can see forever. In West Texas, you don’t really need a sense of direction. You can see exactly where you are going.

West Texas was a perfect place for me—since I am directionally challenged. Seriously challenged. But I haven’t lived in West Texas in a very long time, and along the way, I have had to learn some coping mechanisms—starting with my discovery of MapScope. Remember back in the dark ages when we used paper maps. Well, MapScope was a God-send because it had pages and pages of maps for each neighborhood in a city.

These days being directionally challenged is no big deal—I have Google maps, MapQuest, and best of all a GPS! But the lesson I have learned from seven years of living in Atlanta and owning a GPS is that I no longer pay attention to the roads on which I am driving. I find myself punching in the address—even to places that I go really often—because I have no idea how to get there without “her” voice telling me to turn right in half a mile. It seems rather silly to admit, but I don’t pay attention to street names. I don’t notice the major intersections. I just drive and follow “her” directions.

In this season of Lent, I can hear Jesus’ voice calling to me, “Pay attention to the road, Pam. Check out the street you are driving on. Take notice of the narrow gate.” But while I know he wants me to be an attentive and safe driver, I am pretty sure that what Jesus really is saying to me is “Pay attention to life, Pam. Check on that path you are walking on. Take notice of where you are headed.”

Just as my directionally-challenged self finds it easier to reach for my GPS, my often directionally-challenged faith-self would love to have some precise directions about how to live life. I find myself yearning for a lengthy rulebook that can tell me how to act in every life situation.

But instead of providing me with step-by-step regulations, Jesus tells me to pay attention—to look and really see what is all around me. To see the woman standing behind me in the grocery line, to hear the bird singing outside my window, to notice the little boy running with arms wide open toward his friends, to feel the warm sunshine, and to look up at the deep blue sky. Jesus says, “Pay attention, Pam, and you will sense that the spirit moving. Pay attention, Pam, and you will see God at work here and now. Pay attention, Pam, and you will know where to go. You will know which road to take. Pay attention.”

Long before Jesus, Jeremiah said pretty much the same thing, “Stop at the crossroads and look around; ask for the ancient paths. Where is the good way? Then walk in it and find a resting place for yourselves.” (Jeremiah 6:16) This Lenten season I am reminding myself every day—over and over again—to pay attention to the road.

VBWIM Pam 4Pam Durso is the executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her most favorite part of this work is walking alongside and encouraging women called by God to ministry. Pam also enjoys researching, writing, and teaching in the area of Baptist history. She teaches Baptist history as an adjunct professor at McAfee School of Theology, and previously served as associate executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society and as professor of church history and Baptist heritage at Campbell University Divinity School in North Carolina. Pam earned two of her degrees from Baylor University: a B.A. in religion and a Ph.D. in church history. She and her husband, Keith, live in Lawrenceville with their teenage son and daughter, Michael and Alex.

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Comments

  1. Charles J. Scalise says:

    Pam–

    Since I am also directionally challenged, I really empathized with your Lenten devotional. Isn’t it ironic that directionally-challenged people often find themselves in vocations–like yours and mine–where we have to travel to new places often.

    Best wishes for a meaningful spiritual pilgrimage this Lenten season.
    –Charlie