4 seats away

I’m at the Simply Youth Workers Conference in Chicago.  The event started today and it has been a full day to say the least.  Let me share with you a true truth that I was reminded of while in the “general session” just a few hours away.

I was sitting in a veritable sea of youth workers from all across the country.  I knew only one person the row I was sitting in; my co-youth pastor and partner in student ministry crime, Steve.  And as I sat and listened to what was going on up on the stage, I heard a still, small voice.  But this time, it wasn’t God.

It was a guy 4 seats away who was talking to the person next to him.  He wasn’t talking all that loud, but he was talking loudly enough for me (4 seats away) to hear that he was talking.  I don’t know about you, but that just bugged me.  Certainly what was going on onstage was louder, better, more interesting, and more worth my attention.  Still, I just couldn’t help but be distracted by that stranger’s voice just 4 seats away.

As the session went on, I began to hope more and more that he’d stop talking.  And I found myself more and more disappointed and frustrated that he didn’t.  I was hoping someone closer to him would shush him, or at least give him an eye roll; something that would send a message to him to shut it.  I’d have done it, but remember–I was 4 seats away, clearly outside the circle of responsibility.

Jesus Christ wants my attention.  What Jesus is saying and doing and thinking is more worth my attention than anything else.  If I allow anything else to distract me from His rare voice, then I’ve got to face the reality that while that chatterbox 4 seats away has responsibility over his etiquette while in a crowd, I have responsibility over keeping my ear, mind, heart and life tuned to the One who is more interesting, more loving, and more worth my attention than anything or anyone else.

As I sat there stewing about this stranger’s incessant talking, I was reminded that where my attention lies is always up to me.  There will always be something just 4 seats away, something calling for me to look over here, give my heart over there, and spend my attention other than where it belongs.

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